Doubling or even tripling a recipe requires only a little extra time and effort but can save a great deal of money, time, and energy later on. Whenever you are baking or cooking, ask yourself if that recipe would be one that would hold up well in the freezer. Consider if there are other uses you might have for the ingredients later on in the week.
I remember how much more of a temptation eating out was when I was working full time. When I started having a cooking day once a month, our eating out expenditures went down significantly. Because I would make everything from quiches to lasagna on that one day, all I had to do was pull something out of the freezer for us to eat. Being Southern, I like to bring a meal to someone when they are sick, have just had a baby, or are struggling in some way. It is so nice to be able to say, "Can I bring some soup by?" and know that all I have to do is pull it out and head to that person's direction. I hope these ideas will help make your meals a little easier.
- Instead of only making a cup or two of rice, make a large pot that can be used for other meals during the week--stir fry one night, arroz con pollo another, and rice pudding for a dessert on the weekend.
- When chopping vegetables, chop extras and put them in small containers either in the fridge or freezer. You will only have to clean up once but will have vegetables handy to make a quick meal at a later date.
- When making a soup or stew, pull out the big pot. Both of these items freeze beautifully.
- Wash extra lettuce for salads or sandwiches. Wash the whole bunch of grapes for a quick snack or to pack in lunches.
- Either roast a chicken at home or buy a rotisserie chicken from your grocer. One night have pieces of chicken. The next day have a small batch of chicken salad for lunch, and then use the chicken bones and skins to make a broth for the freezer.
- Double the recipe for muffins and freeze them with wax paper in between. Pull out one or two for a quick snack or breakfast. Either defrost at room temp, in the microwave, or in the toaster oven.
Need some ideas? Chef Robin Miller of the Food Network offers tips and meal plans centered around the idea of bulk cooking. I have never tasted her recipes, but when I've seen her shows I've picked up ideas which have later made cooking easier.
Need some help? Have a cooking day with one or two friends. Plan ahead on what you will cook and who will bring what ingredients and cooking utensils. Each friend will go home with a variety of dishes for meals that week or the freezer.