Monday, June 25, 2012

Another method of Batch Cooking - Taking Advantage of Specials

Today I'm going to introduce something different.

I've just finished giving you a series of menu plans and cook ahead plans to go with them and hopefully you are finding them useful, but I've been doing some thinking, and I want to start a series based on a different premise.

When you follow my 10 Easy Steps to Becoming a Permanent Paleo Eater you will find that step 3 is to organize your freezer and cook ahead at least 2 meals a week.  Just doubling what you make for dinner each week is a great way to do this, but there is another way as well and it's one that I tend to follow now.

Step number 6 is to set up a storage pantry and put aside some money each week to buy specials. When you find something like organic chicken or grass fed ground beef on special you can of course just pack it up and stick it in the freezer to use later, but wouldn't it be great to cook ahead a few meals with the fresh meat and then freeze it?

That's what I do now.  My cook ahead session each weeks tends to be based on whatever special I find that week.

So what I'm going to do with my future cook ahead plans is concentrate on a specific food and then give you a plan which includes 3 or 4 meals you can make from it for your freezer.  I will start with the foods that I find on special in my area, and then build on that list.

Eventually I hope to build a reasonably comprehensive library of plans.  Then, when you find something on special, you can check the Cook Ahead Plans and Downloads tab above and find at least one and maybe several plans that use that food.

This is a great way to fill your freezer and not be limited to a specific menu plan.  When you have 20 or 30 different meals in your freezer ( and yes, this is possible regardless of how small your freezer is - see this post ) then you can just choose the night before to defrost whatever strikes your fancy.

You can easily put out different meals for different people in your family according to their preferences, without creating a lot of work for yourself. You can even microwave the meals, so you have all the convenience of bought processed frozen dinners - except that your dinners are healthy and not full of additives and preservatives.

This is a great way to cook ahead if you have a picky family.  Instead of trying to cook 2 or 3 different meals (and have a nervous breakdown trying to keep up with everyone's requests) you can just fill your freezer bit by bit and then everyone can just choose what they want.  Of course you will need to freeze in individual portions in that case, but that is easily done.  If you use medium freezer bags they can still be frozen flat and stacked. (see the example here)

Cooking ahead using a menu plan can be very useful for some, and if that works for you I have given you a series of plans that you can use.  But if you prefer a bit more freedom, and also want to be able to take advantage of a lot of foods that are on special but can't think of how to use them, I think you will find these plans will be a lot more useful.

Look for my first Specials Cook Ahead Plan tomorrow.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

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