Bulk cooking for the freezer is one of the most popular ways to meal plan, but it does not have to mean “Once a Month Cooking” (OAMC). Bulk cooking the Add Salt & Serve way avoids spending one to two days in the kitchen and then hours cleaning up. We also offer bulk cooking plans for hamburger, chicken, potatoes, and more.
The idea behind full-fledged OAMC is to set aside one to two days each month and cook all day for the freezer. For the rest of the month, all you need to do is thaw and reheat the prepared meals.
Bulk Cooking Secrets of a Busy Cook
The Menus4Moms method of bulk cooking that is integrated into our menu plans relies on two things to help busy cooks:
- Bulk cooking individual ingredients for the freezer
- Doubling or tripling recipes and freezing the extra one(s)
Although cooking for the freezer is the base the Busy Cook’s Pyramid and the most important method of saving time in the kitchen, our way assumes you don’t have 2 full days to devote to filling the freezer.
Takes less effort: The combination of bulk cooking individual ingredients and doubling recipes periodically takes far less effort—both in cooking and cleanup—than once a month cooking.
Gives more flexibility: Bulk cooking ingredients gives you much more flexibility. Pulling out a bag of cooked chicken or ground beef that can be added to a recipe cuts the preparation time in half (or more) without locking you into the choice of whatever frozen dish you have left in the freezer.
Fits your schedule: Busy moms can easily incorporate these two things into their existing schedules and fill their freezers by working a little bit at a time. We go into further details about this way of cooking in the Menus4Moms Primer.
Bulk Cooking Planned Into Free Meal Plans
Since our easy way of bulk cooking integrates well with the cooking you are already doing—it doesn’t take much more time to cook five lbs. of ground beef than one lb., and you certainly don’t double your time in the kitchen when you double a recipe add a meal to the freezer—we incorporate it into free weekly meal plans.
Here is an example of how we incorporate this bulk cooking method and the other aspects of the Busy Cook’s Pyramid into our meal plans:
Hash Brown Potato Soup – Quick and easy recipe using frozen hash browns
Poppy Seed Chicken – Cook extra chicken during prep and stock the freezer
Black Beans and Rice – Quick and easy recipe
Crustless Broccoli Quiche – Double the recipe and stock the freezer
Baked Ziti – Double the recipe and stock the freezer
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Bulk Cooking Plans
If you prefer to spend more time cooking all at once, you’ll find these plans based on a single ingredient helpful.
Here is my “Hamburger Plan”, probably one of my most used so far. I love having all of my favorite recipes in one place, and I find myself referring back to it often… Here are many ideas pertaining to hamburger, “master recipes” are on the left, “secondary recipes” are indented – you assemble these from the master recipes. You can also freeze the portion of the master recipe that is required in the secondary recipe and assemble the secondary recipe on the day you want to eat it. I do this a lot when trying and/or learning new recipes. [Read More...]
Here is the first plan I wrote, out of necessity! I couldn’t figure out how to deal with so many different parts of the chickens I was doing unless I had everything written down and the recipes gathered together… My Strategy – When dealing with meats that have different parts, you need to think about how you will use each to get the maximum amount of food for your dollar. Here is how I handled chicken (the same approach can be used for turkey and many of these recipes will work for turkey). [Read More...]
I’m a bulk cooker and one of the types of sessions I do is potatoes. Many people are surprised by this because they assume that potatoes don’t freeze successfully. I assumed the same thing at first but after years of experimenting I’ve found that they are one of the easiest and most versatile foods in my repertoire. When they go on sale I buy at least 20#, frequently 60# or more. I never buy potatoes unless they are on sale and I never have to deal with watching them slowly go bad in the dark recesses of my pantry because I ... [Read More...]
Bulk Cooking: Recipes that Freeze Well
This barbecue chicken dinner is not only a great slow cooker recipe, but it can easily be used as a freezer meal to help make weekday meal planning easier. You could also make prep easier by using frozen hash browns instead of chopping up your own potatoes. [Read More...]
Zucchini quiche is a delicious way to use an abundance of zucchini, and it freezes well. [Read More...]
Grilled Chicken with Garlic Soy Marinade is as delicious as it is easy to prepare. It is similar to our favorite grilled chicken and is a terrific recipe for cooking in bulk for the freezer. The extra flavor from marinating and grilling will enhance any casseroles, skillet meals, or soups that you add the chicken to. [Read More...]
Simple comfort food that is easy to make. The patties can be prepared and frozen, making this an easy way to double or triple the recipe and stock your freezer for quick meals. [Read More...]
There’s no need to heat up the oven to make this delicious chicken with Thai-inspired peanut sauce. It’s ready in 30 minutes and the meal can be completed with a green salad. [Read More...]
Stock your freezer with a pan of homemade stuffed shells with ground beef, spinach, onion, and garlic, and enjoy the other pan for dinner tonight. [Read More...]
Crockpot Stuffed Bell Peppers make a classic dish even easier, and you can prepare everything the night before to save time in the morning. The filling freezes well, so if you’d like you can double the filling recipe and stock your freezer. [Read More...]
This recipe makes two quiches, so one can go in the freezer for a night when you have less time for meal prep. [Read More...]
Pimentos and green chilies combine with cheddar to give Cheddar Chicken Spaghetti casserole its unique flavor. The casserole freezes well so if you want to double up on the recipe, it’s a good dish to stock the freezer. [Read More...]
Keeping fresh basil on hand makes homemade pesto easy. Basil is the basis for pesto, and using fresh basil that you have just cut from the stem makes your pesto incredibly flavorful. If you are serving pesto with pasta, the pesto can be made in the time it takes for the pasta to boil, so this is really a quick stovetop meal. Pesto freezes well, so it’s easy to make a bulk batch and keep it on hand in the freezer. [Read More...]
This recipe makes enough chicken to plan leftovers for a later meal. Any Asian-inspired recipe that calls for cooked chicken would be a good follow up meal using the leftovers. [Read More...]
Easy Beef Empanadas make it look like you spent all day in the kitchen but are easy and delicious. They make a great freezer meal, too—make extra to freeze! [Read More...]
Maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar make a delicious sauce for this easy freezer chicken dish that can be prepared in advance and cooked in the crockpot. [Read More...]
Tasty marinade with basil, lime, and dijon mustard is the base for this delicious grilled chicken. Basil Lime Chicken makes enough for a meal with extra to stock your freezer with cooked chicken for quick meal prep. The chicken needs to marinate in the tasty Dijon lime marinade overnight, so be sure to plan ahead. [Read More...]
Tortellini Zucchini Soup is an easy 20 minute soup that is good to the last drop—so good that you might need to double the recipe! It freezes well, so it’s a good dish to stock your freezer. [Read More...]
This flaky, buttery pie crust is a delicious foundation for pies, quiches, and pot pies. With only 3 ingredients plus water, this bulk pie crust recipe omits the lard and preservatives found in most commercially prepared crusts and is always available in your freezer. [Read More...]
Using dried beans instead of canned beans is an easy way to save money. Cooking dried beans takes several hours but only requires checking on them a couple of times. For our menus, you can cook a bag (or two if your pot is large enough) of dried beans and freeze the beans in their own juice. These bags of frozen beans, which are far less expensive, can be used in place of canned beans. [Read More...]
A feature of Menus4Moms menus is having food prep already done before dinner time, and one way we accomplish this is by bulk cooking and freezing chicken in meal-sized portions. Here is a wonderful recipe for cooking chicken in bulk. Have grilled chicken for dinner the night you cook it, then chop and freeze the leftovers in dated freezer bags. The longer the chicken marinates in this mixture, the more flavorful it will be. [Read More...]
These 3 ingredient buttermilk biscuits from scratch yield consistent, delicious results. This large batch makes enough to freeze half either before or after cooking. Freezing them before cooking makes it easy to have fresh, hot biscuits for breakfast, but if you cook them first, you can make your own breakfast biscuit sandwiches for the freezer instead of buying them already prepared. [Read More...]
When ground beef is deeply discounted, we buy large quantities and prepare both browned ground beef for the freezer and bulk meatballs for the freezer. This recipe calls for baking the meatballs instead of frying them, creating less mess. [Read More...]
Cheesy Spirals is from the Menus4Moms e-book, Bulk Cooking for the Freezer: Ground Beef and is also featured in the Busy Mom Menu. It is a good recipe to prepare when you buy bulk ground beef. You can brown your beef, use 2 lbs. for the Cheesy Spirals and freeze the rest in 1 lb. portions. The Cheesy Spirals recipe makes 2 pans, one for dinner and one for the freezer. If you have a smaller family and prefer to cook in smaller batches, you can probably get 3- 8"x8" pans out of this recipes instead of 1- 9"x12" pan ... [Read More...]
Bulk Cooking: Articles
For Lisa Donatelli of Cuyahoga Falls, nirvana is not a day at a spa, but dinner in the freezer. Donatelli spent one evening last week making dinner with four of her friends. They made 80 meals — enough to stock their refrigerators and freezers with 16 dinners each. The women did not make the dinners in one of those new meal-assembly shops. They made them in my kitchen, in a do-it-yourself session with recipes developed for the project. Not only did they save money, they had a ball. [Read More...]
List member Christy recently wrote to me . . . “I am looking for a cookbook or ideas on making meals for a month (or at least a week) and freezing them. I know they have cookbooks that you can do this for a month. Has anyone used one and which would you suggest? Thanks for any help.” . . . And then the very next day, I happened to get an email from my dear friend Ann Marie on this very topic: [Read More...]
It’s 5 pm and the kids are hungry. You rummage through the refrigerator looking for leftovers – no such luck. You hastily attempt to prepare a simple Spaghetti Bolognese and realize that you’re out of pasta. We’re all aware of the chaos that a lack of organization around mealtime can bring! Instead of dinner being a time when the family comes together, it can be a time of frustration. For Kathy Cottrell, a schooling mother of two teenage sons who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, part of the solution has been planning and preparing meals in advance. [Read More...]
It’s been at least six years since I balanced working outside the home almost full-time and having two kids. Friends were always amazed that I managed homemade meals on the table each night. Becoming a stay home mom with three kids made meal planning a bit easier because I was home, BUT several of the lessons I learned as a work outside the home mom still apply. I’ll give you a sample menu for one week to show how I would pull all these easy lessons together. [Read More...]
Okay, I admit it. I’m a Once-A-Month-Cooking drop-out. I tried to make a month’s worth of meals for the freezer, but I couldn’t come up with enough time or enough meals. Next I tried to make 2 weeks of meals for the freezer and stopped because I ran out of dishes, freezer bags, and patience. I had good intentions, but I’m just not that organized. Even though I flunked OAMC, my freezer is not empty. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share. [Read More...]
Making chicken broth doesn’t have to be an arduous process. It does take a little more time than opening up a can of store-bought broth. But, I look at it as a gift I’m giving my friends and family. A homemade chicken broth is the cornerstone of any great homemade soup. The time it takes to make the broth is only to bring out the wonderful essence and wholesome flavor that’s characteristic of a great broth. Below are my favorite 12 soup cooking tips for making that happen. [Read More...]
One of the most common questions I hear from people who are interested in freezer-meal cooking is: “How do I know what will freeze well, and what won’t?”If you’re unsure of how well something will freeze, freeze a single serving when you prepare the dish for a regular family meal. This way you can check on how well the item holds up to freezing and reheating. The following lists should give you a good start at identifying potential freezing problems with various food items. [Read More...]
Popular Bulk Cooking Cookbooks
Once A Month Cooking (affiliate link) by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson – This easy-to-follow, family-tested cookbook explains how to: plan ahead, spend less time in the supermarket, cut down on prep time, group similar kitchen tasks together to get them all done at once, make kitchen clean-up more manageable, use the freezer, computer, and our head to create a month full of delicious, nutritious meals and actually have enough time to relax and enjoy them.
Frozen Assets (affiliate link) by Deborah Taylor-Hough – Frozen Assets is small in stature, but jam-packed with meal-planning advice. It contains recipe ideas, plus detailed instructions on how to get the maximum value from your food dollar, while also slashing meal preparation times.
Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family (affiliate link) by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik – Cooks will find 125 delicious, healthful recipes to choose from. Each one includes directions for dividing, preparing, and storing raw ingredients; a second set of simple direction is included for thawing, cooking, and enjoying the food. Designed for the way people cook today, Fix, Freeze, Feast meals are lighter and fresher than traditional bulk-cooking recipes, with a focus on simple stews and stir-fries, quick grilled or broiled main courses, and popular ethnic meals such as Beef Fajitas and Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry. Fix, Freeze, Feast, also includes ready-to-bake cookie doughs, soups, side dishes, smoothies, and snacks.
Make-A-Mix (affiliate link) by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover – Make-A-Mix is really two cookbooks in one. The cookbook begins with 67 make-ahead shortcut mixes for everything from all-purpose cake mix to meatball mix. These can be made on a weekend-or whenever there’s free time-and used to speed food preparation on busy days. The mixes are a key ingredient in one or more of the 306 recipes that follow. The kitchen-tested recipes run the gamut from breakfast dishes to after-dinner treats. They include hearty dinner entrees, like enchilada casserole, onion pot roast, and shrimp & vegetable stir-fry; international fare like green chili burritos and quick chow mein; soups and other appetizers, like New England clam chowder, and even freezer treats like fruit slush. With the Make-A-Mix method, home cooks can control the amount of sugar, salt, and preservatives in a recipe, and save money on store-bought mixes.
OAMC Introduction from Ellen’s Kitchen
Budget101 OAMC resources from Budget101
Freezer Cooking Recipes You Can Count On – LifeAsMom’s OAMC
Bulk/OAMC/Freezer recipes – Genius Kitchen OAMC
* If bulk cooking 20 meals all at once is your thing, our eBook Bulk Cooking for the Freezer: Ground Beef will guide you through the process with ground beef:
If you like the idea of an all day bulk cooking session but feel lost getting started, Bulk Cooking for the Freezer: Ground Beef will guide you through the bulk cooking process with step-by-step instructions for each dish. This ebook is available for immediate download from the Menus4Moms website. Each book is filled with tips, color illustrations, grocery lists, and step-by-step instructions. The ground beef plan includes 14 different ground beef recipes that make 20+ meals for your freezer. Bulk Cooking plans include both printed grocery list and Shopping List software grocery list file. (Shopping List software is Windows only).
Save time and money with this detailed guide to bulk cooking 20+ meals with ground beef. $6.95 ebook Download now