Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Cooking in Batches

This is my second "Thrifty Thursday" post. I want to stay motivated as I work on our family budget--part of that motivation is sharing what I am doing. It can be discouraging to read frugal blogs and see how people feed their families on so little money--I feel like I am trying hard and yet I don't see those results. I am sensitive to the fact that many people are frugal out of necessity and don't have the option to "not succeed" in their attempts. The last thing I want to be is patronizing. Nonetheless, I feel like we are bleeding money around here and there are some expensive things we need to save for. I know there are people who want to reduce their spending but do not know where to I am writing these posts for them and myself :) I hope you are inspired and if you can add any ideas of your own I hope you will comment below :)

As a stay-at-home-mom, I am very fortunate to have the time to bake and cook from scratch. I am really so grateful that I am home every day with my kids. The flip side to that is that I am home everyday, EVERY. DAY. with my kids!!

Let's just say that as much as I like preparing the meals that we eat, I do like a break from it now and again. Likewise, we are often out and about and returning home at meal time can be an ordeal if I am not well-prepared. It often leads to impulsive trips for take-out food as we leave town, or expensive ready made meals from the grocery store. On average it is about $40-50 to feed my family of four a meal of fried chicken or Chinese food. That leaves enough for Husband to take a lunch the next day, but is not comparable to a homemade meal that might feed us all for under $10.

So, to combat boredom with the every day meal preparation around here, and to be better organized for our busy times, I have begun cooking batches of food on Wednesdays. Last week I made an extra large batch of meat sauce and from it made a lasagna to freeze for another day.

 The remaining sauce was also frozen and can be served over pasta or combined with beans and spices to make a quick chili. If these two frozen dishes prevent us eating take-out twice in the next month, that is a savings of $80 or more. I estimate that the sauce cost me less than $7 because the hamburger came free from my parents' farm. Even with the cost of cottage cheese, lasagna noodles and mozzarella on top, these are some frugal options when we are in a hurry. I am so fortunate to have a small chest freezer and a stand-up freezer in which to store extra meals. For anyone interested, I have written about cooking in batches here and here.

Do you ever prepare food ahead of time? Can you suggest any meals that are quick to prepare when we are on the run?


  1. Hi Jill. I read your earlier post on spices and it was good. Spices I think save my life considering I eat such simple foods. But a sprinkle of this and that is all it takes to improve a dish.

    This post is also so important for everyone trying to stick to a budget. I like making beans in my slow cooker and freezing them. Lasagna or any other casserole is also fab. Burritos and muffins (for breakfast or snacks) are also good.

    Although not part of batch cooking, I am a big fan of frozen veggies. It's easy to make them into a stir fry or just bulk out a pasta dish. Hmmm...I think batch cooking is good but a slight alternative is to also have separate ingredients prepped (and frozen) - like stuff for a taco night etc (cheese, meat and even tortillas freeze well). ~ Pru

  2. You are right Pru! Frozen veg really rounds out a meal. Even better when I manage to grow them myself :) I made extra taco meat earlier this summer and froze it into smaller portions--so super handy to whip up taco salad when company drops in. I also took it to a potluck supper with greens out of my garden which was a big hit! Having something that can be prepared quickly really helps me resist the urge to pick up takeout! Thanks for stopping by!