Ask the Readers: Do You Do Batch Cooking?

By Ashley Jacobs on 19 April 2016 74 comments

One way to save time and money on food is to set aside a few hours a week to do all your cooking, all at once. This way, you'll have dinner ready to reheat even on super busy nights, without having to go out for dinner or resort to unhealthy alternatives. However, batch cooking won't work for everyone. Some people don't have large blocks of time that they can use for cooking, or they might not have the freezer space to store the food.

Do you do batch cooking? What challenges did you face when you started cooking in batches? Do you have any tips and tricks for someone who's new to this frugal tactic? What are your favorite dishes for batch cooking? If you don't do batch cooking, is this something you would like to try?

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Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

I don't set aside an entire afternoon to make a month's worth of meals, but I do do batch cooking. I'll make a huge pot of soup and freeze two-thirds of it, or make an extra casserole and freeze one. We usually have three for dinner, and we're not going to eat an entire lasagna at one sitting, so leftovers go in the freezer. I'll cook a chicken and have meat for soup or casseroles later in the week. Then, when schedules are tight, dinner's done.

Guest's picture
AN G

Yes I try to because I cook for my parents too. Hardest part is finding the storage in fridge or freezer

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Guest

Some things are to messy or to much hassle to make in small batches, so freezer building is my answer

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cherie

YES all the time! I winds up being a combination of my emergency meals [like meatloaf, or meatballs - last night I had no time to make dinner, nuked a pack of meatballs and tossed it on some baguette with sauce and the kids thought I was fabulous] and partially prepared things

Guest's picture
Guest

I just started about a month ago. It's going well so far, but I'm not one to freeze meals, so I tend to batch cook on Sundays and eat it through the week, which I guess is more meal planning. But, sometimes I do get bored by the end of the week. I just haven't figured out the best way to freeze food without getting freezer burn

Guest's picture
Kellie Baker

I have done a combo of batch cooking all at once and every once and awhile. Unfortunately not everything does well re-heated. Surprisingly rice does really well re-heated, frozen, etc. I have also found that casseroles are the easiest to re-heat. I really love the foil pans at the Dollar Tree. You get 2 for $1 to really help save cleanup time during the week.

Most recently though, I have switched to only doing a few batch meals a week. For example, if I am making home made macaroni and cheese, I do a double batch and freeze half. Eventually I start accumulating meals in the freezer for those nights when you just don't feel like cooking. I have found this to be the most efficient with my time.

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Donna Sako

Yes, I do batch cooking. I make homemade pot pies which I can freeze for several meals. I also make soup, chili, lasagna, and my own TV dinners.

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Mami2jcn

I don't do batch cooking but I can see how it's a good idea.

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Julie Wood

I do batch cooking because I cook for 4 people and I can not cook every night. It is too hard. I make Crock Pot meals and cassaroles. By cooking batch meals I have enough dinners to last all week!

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Guest

Steaming a dozen eggs, Giada's Bolognese. So easy.

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Paul

While we don't do batch cooking as a special project, when we are making food that works well as a batched job we will make more (often doubling or tripling the recipe) in order to freeze lunch portions or future dinners.

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Christie

I do at times. If I'm making something that I know I'll use in the future on a busy day, (like meatballs), I'll make a huge batch and freeze them for a quick meal on days our family is scattered working. It does save time when I don't have to worry about cooking that night and can have a great meal ready in minutes!

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Elena

I don't do batch cooking

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Chris

I do almost all my cooking in batches on the weekend, so that I have breakfasts, lunches and dinners almost complete for Monday through Friday. Lots of fruit/oatmeal, homemade soup and homemade veggie burgers, along with sauces, etc. Saving money AND eating better!

Guest's picture
Gina

I do batch cooking on Sundays to prepare my breakfast and lunch for the week. For breakfast I normally prepare a sausage and egg frittata although I sometimes do overnight oats (the oats & brown sugar are portioned into containers and only need the milk added each night). For lunch I normally prepare some sort of pasta with meat. Since pasta is so versatile with shapes, sauces, and meats that I can add it never gets boring. I normally cook dinner fresh each night although sometimes I'll batch cook things that reheat well like lasagna or macaroni and cheese. Batch cooking saves a lot of time and money and makes life easier - I just have to heat and eat!

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Elle

I do not do batch cooking.

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Guest

Batch cooking has saved me - money and time! I make three main meat dishes: beef, chicken, and pork. I divide each one dish into the proper portion so I can make my lunch in about five minutes every morning. I can use any of these dishes for dinner as well. I also make a bunch of breakfast sandwiches. It works really well for me.

Sometimes I'll do this for my mom and sister so we can split the costs and have a greater variety. Win-win!

Guest's picture
lisa

i know it's a great thing to do but i don't do if often. it's great for saving money and for me it's relaxing, so it's therapeutic if nothing else. the key is to not batch cook anything you don't really love and make sure it's something that holds well to freezing/storing. when i batch cook it's with soups or goulash. and i make amazing soups. i've seen my boyfriend literally use his finger to scrape the bowl when i make my vegan lentil chili. i love thawing something out the night before and knowing you made it and will eat it the next day. i'm growing less impressed with restaurant offerings because most of the time i think i can make it better plus making it affords total control of what you ingest. you know the salt content, fat content, etc. with any restaurant you're just trusting them to do what they say they do.

Guest's picture
Kellie

I haven't tried this for meals, but I do cook batches of things occasionally - beans to freeze and use later, lasagna rolls, etc. Batch cooking is interesting, and I would like to try it sometime soon!

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Julie Lundstrom

I do some batch cooking for a few days but I don't do a whole weeks worth at one time. I would like to try some freezing meals.

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Lisa

Since becoming an empty nester, I stopped batch cooking. Instead, I make a larger main dish at the beginning of the week and then reuse the leftovers in new recipes or warmed over if in a hurry. Two meals will generally stretch to feed us for the week with just the addition of a few staples. Frugality requires changing with your circumstances and this works for me and my husband.

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Michelle Taylor

I batch cook about once a month...and it keeps us out of the drive thru! I can easily do 24 meals in less than 3 hours. It's really simple.

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Mike in PA

I don't set aside time to make meals to freeze, exactly...but since I live alone, I'll make a full or double recipe of whatever I'm making that night and then have it for lunches for the next couple days, and then freeze the rest for later.

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amanda sakovitz

I have never done batch cooking before.

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Mary W

I do not batch cook but I do cook large quantities every night. The leftovers get packed for lunches the next day or roll over into another dinner. The smell of a home cooked meal heating in the microwave and wafting through the office makes everyone drool. Great way to save money and time.

Guest's picture
Mila

Absolutely!! Taco soup, chicken enchiladas, posole, green chile stew, pinto beans, broths for soup, spinach quiche and the list goes on and on.

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Susan P.

I cook large quantities of whatever I'm cooking and then have leftovers and freeze some. I don't cook multiple things on the weekends for freezing to have all week.

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guest

I batch cook. A tip is to freeze in single servings.

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MELISSA HANSSON

Yes, I try to cook in batches. I also do most of my cooking on weekends, when I'm not too exhausted from work to care what I eat. And I do some crock pot batches that go in the freezer, too.

Guest's picture
MelodyJ

We take turns cooking. It would take a lot of planning on everyone's part to do batch cooking. So, we don't.

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Jeff

yes, we package up and freeze individual servings for lunches and/or quick dinners

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Emily S.

I generally cook a large portion of meat (grilled chicken, crockpot pork) on the weekends and then use it for lunches (rice bowls, salads, etc.) during the week. I am also a fan of breakfast casseroles, sliced into individual portions, and frozen. They can be reheated for a quick breakfast!

Guest's picture
Albanyjulia

I roast sheet pans of vegetables, and it took me quite a while to learn what temperature, how long, and in what order to do them--but now that I've got it, it saves me tons of time and lets me eat well every day.

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Guest

I do not do batch cooking, but may try it in the future.

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BRB

No, I prefer to have my meals trail into each other. The few things I have leftover from one night get used as a side or included in a main for following evenings. We can only handle the same meal so many times in a week before we give up on it.

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Jenny D

I batch cook but not every week - sometimes it's just one thing like a whole bag of dried beans, using what I need right now and freezing the rest in freezer zip lock bags...other times I double what I'm making for supper and freeze the other half for a busy day.

Buy good zip lock bags. Fill to the top of the bag, but in a single layer. Freeze them laying flat in freezer and then store upright in the freezer. Also label the bags with contents, amount, and date. Sometimes I write a use by date.

So many foods can be frozen. If you're not sure, just do an online search. I love to do dry beans, pizza sauce, rice, soups, casseroles, and cooked meats such as ground beef and chicken. A really easy soup to throw together from separate frozen items is Stuffed Pepper Soup...I even dice up green peppers and freeze them for later.

Guest's picture
4dogz282

with just two of us -no-with four dogs -i pull out the slow cookers and let them do the work-chicken or turkey with vegetables work well .mb

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Jenn P

I do! Nearly every Sunday I cook for most of the week. At the very least, I take care of food prep to make weeknight cooking easier. I also buy in bulk and freeze items. I also just started meal planning which has helped me eat the food we make. I waste much less. I highly recommend it!

Guest's picture
Louly

Sometimes I will make a casserole or giant meal in the slow cooker but I typically don't take an entire day to make meals ahead.

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Catseye

No, I don't do batch cooking. I want to but I have an apartment-sized fridge with very little freezer space. I do try to cook meals that provide me with lots of leftovers.

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Guest

I do cook in batches often. It's a great time saver and it is also great for cutting costs.

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Ashley

No, we don't. There are a couple reasons. First, we really don't have the freezer space. But the real reason is that almost all of our dishes are grilled,seared , or roasted and the quality is just so much better fresh. If you are going to go to the trouble to prepare something, it should taste delicious.

Guest's picture
Monique

I sometimes do batch cooking, but I want to make an effort to become better organized and do it more often. I recommend gathering a bunch of recipes you like or want to try that use some of the same ingredients or that some ingredients are on sale and set aside an afternoon to cook and store the food (and clean). I love soups and casseroles for batch cooking!

Guest's picture
katherine

I batch cook. Saturdays/Sundays for the following week. Around Wednesday night or Thursday, I get sick of the food and need something new (just for one meal) and then I go back to eating what I (I = my husband) cooks for the week.

Guest's picture
Matt

I do some, but it's more meal planning than batch cooking. I'll make things on Sunday afternoon and eat it all week. I don't freeze a lot because I have a tiny freezer and no room for a larger one.

Guest's picture
Arthur

Yes, I try to do batch cooking every Sunday when I have time.

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Susan Smith

I do some batch cooking like making a crockpot of chili and freezing a lot of it. My biggest challenge is not having enough room in our freezer.

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Donna D

Some things I make in bulk and freeze for a handy meal, stews, soup and enchiladas.

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Jackie

When my life used to be a bit busier, I did try to do batch cooking as much as possible to make lunches and dinners easy throughout the week. Something that I remember working really well is cooking some type of big and versatile thing on Sundays (like a pork butt) and making it into a variety of meals throughout the week - like pork tacos one day, and a pork salad the next, maybe finishing off with a barbecue pork pizza. The biggest challenge for something like that was not getting sick of the item that you prepared by the end of the week, and making sure it stays fresh until you've eaten it all!

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Kristin Goodson

I don't do batch baking or cooking often. During the holidays, I will occasionally do a batch cooking of breakfast items to keep in the freezer. This really is an excellent way to save time and money.

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Kris B.

As a busy single person I do batch cooking every Sunday. I make things that I can freeze and eat for lunch or dinner throughout the following week when I am too busy to cook. This saves me a lot of money and I get to get healthy hot meal without relying on unhealthy fast food.

Recipes that I usually batch cook are: enchiladas, pasta dishes, rice dishes, soup, and chili. I portion out all my batch recipes in individual tupperware containers and freeze them. Then when I need a meal, just grab it from the freezer and heat it up. Add some fruit or a salad and I have a meal. Easy Peasy

Guest's picture
Lynda

yes sometimes i do batch cooking - really makes it easier when i do it!

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Amanda D

Yes, I batch cook. I find that it really saves time during the busy week; after work I am able to have dinner on the table with minimal effort. I also batch prepare lunches, so that I am not as rushed in the mornings getting everyone out of the door. Occasionally, I freeze portions but also run into storage space issues in my freezer.

I also batch bake and freeze. I figure if I am already going to messy up the kitchen with flour and sugar dust I might as well make a day out of it and it's convenient to have treats on hand for those last minute potluck days at work or last minute weekend guests :)

Guest's picture
Kat Skull

Yes, I usually cook all my lunches on Sunday and prepare different snacks for the week. It keeps me healthy and my diet on a schedule!

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Evie B.

I do not batch cook but it is an interesting idea.

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Ernest S.

I don't batch cook my meals, but I've definitely thought about it. The only thing I will prepare in advance is my breakfast (i.e., overnight oats)!

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Rebecca Ross

No, but we should.

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Kat L

I don't batch cook as I live alone (my batches usually come in a cereal box) ;) But my girlfriend does batch cooking. She has to eat both lunch AND dinner at work (long shift) and has about 100 food allergies. So by batch cooking she has portion control and allergy control plus lots of convenience and savings!

Guest's picture
Sarah

No I don't because it's just me and my roommate

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Samantha

I don't do batch cooking but have often thought of starting.

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Miss Kim

I don't do batch cooking but I do usually double the recipe so that I can have leftovers the next day.

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Guest

I don't do "batch cooking", but when cooking a dish using a normal recipe, I usually end up with leftovers for me and my boyfriend for another meal or two.

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Liz

I batch prepare my lunch for the week on Sunday afternoon.

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Laurajj

I do some batch cooking every week, but not as much as I would like to do. I have really been interested in the freezer cooking and planning out meals for the month.

Guest's picture
Suz_Glo

I do simpler versions of batch cooking. For instance, I will cook 4 chicken breasts with the intention of using the meat in 3-4 different ways/meals over the course of the week. It is very smart to think ahead like this. I feel as if I have given my future self the gift of time and less stress!

Guest's picture
Michael

I don't but my wife will make rice and then freeze individual portions so we always have it.

Guest's picture
Dorothy

I don't currently have freezer space as my landlord uses it all, otherwise I have been a huge fan of cooking in larger quantities to save money!

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Ashley

I try but don't do it all the time. I have to be in the mood.

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Kat

I make a giant pot of soup on Sunday and we eat it throughout the week. I try to pack in tons of veggies so that it's a healthy way for my family to eat more vegetables.

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Yvonne

I cook both soup and spaghetti sauce in batches to freeze.

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Happy Love

I don't think this qualifies. I just cook enough for 2-3 meals, including left-overs.

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Ana Lee

I do occasionally when I make casseroles or soups. Most of the time though I prefer to eat fresh foods.

Guest's picture
JL

I'm a huge fan of freezing soups, rice, cooked chicken, and sauces. Rice does really well if you portion it out while its still warm and wrap with plastic wrap. I think it traps more of the moisture, and re-steams when you microwave it later. These little packets don't take up much space and are a great supplement to leftover meals made during the week.

Soups and sauces I store in the individual, round ziploc containers (they stack like a charm!) or freezer bags if I'm running low on space - if you freeze them flat you can then store them vertically. Lunch is a meal I often forget about, so taking some premade soup out in the morning will defrost by noon. A simple way to ensure I don't eat out from desperation.

Guest's picture
Thomas Murphy

I don't do batch cooking