Sunday, September 04, 2011

Bulk Cooking

Every once in a while, I come across programs for bulk cooking -- buying a month's worth of food, and cooking it all in one day and freezing it. Often, this is so much work that the recommendation is to do it with someone else, get the kids out of the house, kick the husband to the curb, and make sure to take that double dose of Zoloft or Tequila (not both, no matter how tempting it might be), and don't forget to hire a maid to handle the aftermath.

I've never really given these programs much more than a passing glance. Often the recipes are full of more processed foods than I am comfortable with, especially with my dietary restrictions. Not to mention, I don't really want to cook with someone else. I'm pretty elitist when I cook -- and also kind of grumpy. And for some reason, I just don't get around to eating dishes that I've cooked and frozen. And affording a months worth of food.....

Monday, I surprised my hubby by bringing into the house an "Every Day with Rachael Ray" magazine. He knows Rachael Ray hasn't been one of my favorite chefs for a long time (just think she's over-marketed, and her dishes on her t.v. show are never enough for a family of four, especially when one of those family members is a teenage boy). I don't mock her or least not like I do the skinny Italian chef (How can I believe her food is good when she clearly doesn't eat it?), or like the plastic Sandra HER I mock with her kitchen decorations that change EVERY episode.

But I digress.

The reason why I brought the magazine home is because it had a different take than I've seen on making meals for a month. Rather than making many different entrees, instead, it calls for preparing the ingredients -- Five different base ingredients that can be combined to make twenty different dishes. In the article, the building blocks were :

  • Pulled Pork -- 2 shoulder roasts that are seasoned, roasted, shredded, and frozen in 1 cup portions
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Roasted Veggies -- yep, roast Bell Peppers, onions, squash, garlic, etc. and then put in freezer bags to add to recipes later.
  • Pulled Chicken -- same idea as the Pulled Pork.
  • Rice Pilaf -- a large recipe of rice that also gets frozen and added to other recipes.
While I looked at a lot of the recipes offered (and the fact that I'm SUPPOSED to avoid tomatoes, peppers, and rice -- at least I'm working on that), most of them wouldn't fit my lifestyle, but I then looked at a lot of the recipes that I do make on a regular basis, and realized that I could really do something similar.

Roasting all of this stuff is not a bad way to go, because most of it can be cooked in the same oven, so actually, it saves some energy, too. I so love roasted vegetables, too!

These are my categories:

  • 4 Pulled Chickens -- because I use chicken in a LOT of soups and stews, not to mention it would be nice to have it around for salads and such , too. Once the bones are cleaned of meat, they'll be thrown into a stock pot to make chicken stock .
  • 1 Boston Butt Roast -- Not sure how much I'll need of this.
  • Roast Vegetables -- onions, garlic, beets, and squash. Oh, and cauliflower. LOTS of cauliflower (we use a lot, and Meijer has a good sale going on)
  • Hamburger mix for meatloaf and meatballs.
My pumpkins are ripe in my garden, I'll be doing a lot of roasting the meat of those and putting them in 1 cup freezer bag portions, too.

I'm embarking on this today, but not whole hog, so to speak. Probably enough to get me through a week and a half to two weeks, I hope.

I still have a week of work left, so I hope this helps (and I will probably divide it up into two evenings because of this, too). I want to ease into it , because if this IS a good idea, I don't want to kill myself over it so I don't do it at all.


Jane said...

Love this idea. This could really work.

Sage said...

Great ideas! I loved the pulled pork/chicken frozen ahead. Today I'm cooking up a couple pounds of bacon and making my new found choc. chip cookie recipe made with almond and rice flour instead of wheat. I added an extra egg (3 instad of 2) and freeze it in rolls to slice when I want to cook. The other thing I discovered was to cook them at 325 for 15-18 minutes instead of 375 for 10-12. They come out cakey and moist.

I'm all for cooking ahead and doing the basic ingredients makes much more sense. I freeze blueberries and strawberries whole when they are on sale, just pop them in ziplocs. Yesterday I made my husband a cake w/ the froz. blueberries dumped in. He loved it.

Beth said...

Oooh, I'd never thought of freezing roasted veggies. Do they retain their texture ok, or turn to mush?

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


As I was doing it last night, I realized that in a day at home, it wouldn't be a big deal to have the oven going most of the day, and have everyone help...chicken's ready to shred...veggies need bagged. It really isn't an INTENSE process like most bulk cooking is. We could set aside lessons for 20 minutes and deal with what's done and get the next batch ready.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Beth, I have only used the garlic from frozen, and it was amazing. I held cloves in my hand for a couple of minutes, and they just melted into complete softness, and then I blended them with mayonnaise.

I'd only put the cauliflower in the fridge, and they certainly retained enough of their texture to hold up in a "potato" salad.


Great ideas!

Maren said...

Which issue was this? I bought one of her magazines, but it must have been the wrong one...

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Maren, It's the September, 2011 one.

Kaylen said...

Eating Italian food is very different than overeating or gorging on Italian food. Giada has said in her cookbooks that she does eat it, and the reason she doesn't gain weight is because she doesn't overeat it.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Kaylen, I'm sure she does. And you are right, it's kind of the whole "French Women Don't Get Fat" point. She does come up with some amazing recipes...but 80% of Italian food is out of my repertoire now and "blaming" her makes me feel better.
(just kidding)

Maren said...

I was never able to find the September issue, it was gone from the stands when I started looking. When I search on the internet for "Rachel Ray Bulk Cooking" your site is 3rd for results! Will try and email the magazine for the article...