Chatelaine Kitchen

How to tackle big-batch cooking

Not all ready-made meals that head into the freezer come out just as nice, so here are some of our best tips and recipes for big batch cooking.

Stew_chili pork posole

When we’re hungry and pressed for time, it’s hard not to reach for that take-out menu or zip through the drive-thru for a quick pick-me-up. But there’s another saving grace and it’s closer to home – your freezer! Dedicating one weekend day to batch cook is economical, and a big time saver in the long run. I’m partial to hearty foods when the weather starts to cool down. Soups, stews and pastas usually do the trick when I’m looking for an easy and tasty supper. Simply cook and freeze, then re-heat and eat at your convenience. But not all ready-made meals that head into the freezer come out just as nice, so here are some of our best tips and recipes for big batch cooking:

To store your batch cooking, ladle your cooled-down food into labeled, re-sealable Zip-loc bags (small bags for single portions, larger bags for 3 to 4 servings). Remove as much air from the bags as possible to prevent freezer burn. A great tip to maximizing your freezer space is to lay your packages flat. Stack flattened packages on a baking sheet and freeze until frozen, then remove the baking sheet. To re-heat, place bag in a bowl or sink of hot water for 5 to 10 min, or until contents can be broken into smaller pieces. Heat pieces in a saucepan until hot.

One of my favourite hearty soups is this lentil, kale and sausage soup. It’s packed with protein goodness, so it eats more like a stew than soup. The great thing about this dish is that all the ingredients in it freeze very well. (Kale and lentils are both fibre-strong ingredients that withstand freezing.)

Making a big batch of bolognese sauce couldn’t be easier. And doubling this recipe won’t increase the cook time by much. It’s perfect on polenta, pasta or for making lasagna. Pasta doesn’t freeze and re-heat well, so I always cook the pasta fresh before topping with delicious sauce.

Let’s not forget an easy grab-and-go breakfast – muffins! Our streusel crunch blueberry muffins are ideal for baking and freezing in individual portions. Leave it on the counter to thaw overnight, and in the morning you have a perfectly portable breakfast.

Here are a few more recipes that are great for freezing: