The Benefits of a Cooking or Baking Day
I just spent an hour in the kitchen and was thinking how beneficial it is for me to have a cooking day or a baking day. I don't do it often enough actually. There are many benefits to taking a day, an afternoon or even an hour or two and devoting it to cooking things for the freezer.
Over the weekend I had purchased four pounds of ground beef. Rather than freezing that large of package all together or dividing it up into smaller packages and freezing them, I decided to make my life easier in the future and get some meals started for the freezer. I browned half of it and while that was cooking I took the other half and made it into two meatloaves. They were both done about the same time. I put the meatloaves in the oven to cook while the browned ground beef cooled.
I figured while my oven was on I should take advantage of it and cook up something else. I made a double batch of pumpkin bread - one for our breakfast tomorrow and one for the freezer. Then I made a batch of chocolate chip muffins for the freezer. It took me one hour of hands on time to have four meals worth of meat in the freezer ready for dinners and a couple of breakfasts ready to eat.
Not only is having all that food ready to eat a good pay back for my time, but it saves me time and stress later in the month. I can complete four meals very quickly now which will prevent stopping at a restaurant or ordering pizza. Also, by cooking all these things at once, I am saving energy by just using my oven one time. If I had cooked all these things separately it would have required my oven to be on for 3.5 hours and my stove top (to brown the meat) to be on for 30 minutes. By doing it all at once, I used my stove top for 20 minutes and my oven for 1.25 hours. I saved over two hours of energy use, by cooking in bulk.
When you are planning a baking or cooking day you can also save money by buying in bulk. I was able to get a lower price per pound on the ground beef because I bought four pounds. Had I bought one pound at a time I would have paid $1 more per pound. You can have a cooking day with chicken just as easily as I had with the beef. You can buy twenty chicken breasts at Sam's club for much cheaper than just two or three at a time at the grocery store.
Once a month cooking wouldn't work for me, but by modifying it I have found a way to reap some of the benefits of it without having to spend a couple of eight hour days in my kitchen. Spending an hour or two in the kitchen here and there throughout the month makes my life so much easier and I bet it would work for you too.