Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bulk Freezer Cooking - Prep Day Tips

We will assume at this point in the process, you've gotten all of your groceries -- and you've recovered from that shopping trip. The next day would be your Prep Day! Believe me -- when it comes time for you to do your marathon of cooking, you will be thrilled that you had this day to get everything prepared.

  1. Prep the night before. Take it from us, do the chopping/prep the night or day before. You will thank us on your cooking day.  That way, you can wake up fresh and ready to go without having to chop 10 cups of onions or brown 5 pounds of ground beef. (Don't miss the meat prep -- I did!)
  2. Invest in a good knife. I never knew what I was missing until I received a good quality knife for Christmas one year.  Also, make sure to sharpen the knife before you begin to chop so you don’t have to waste time sharpening halfway through.
  3. Have several cutting boards. We talked about this before but having two (or more) can be incredibly helpful.  That way you don’t have to clean yours as often during Prep.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.  I prefer to be barefoot nine times out of ten but when it comes to being in the kitchen for that long, the support is important. (Cue barefoot in kitchen jokes).
  5. Brown ground beef in your crockpot.  I know it sounds strange but if you are like me, there’s nothing more obnoxious than browning ground beef.  It’s so easy and yet so time consuming all at the same time. If you're browning more than 3 lbs of ground beef at a time -- use your crockpot, add a 1/2 cup to a cup of water, and let it sit for 6 to 8 hours on high. I do this even when I’m not doing a big cooking day so I can make batches of spaghetti sauce and chili without having to do much work.
  6. Separate your ingredients. After chopping, take the time to separate out the chopped ingredients for each recipe.  This helps for two reasons.  One, it saves time if you can pull out a bowl that has all the needed vegetables for a specific recipe.  Two, it can help you see before your cooking day if you forgot something at the store or if you thought the onions you bought would be 10 cups of onions but it really turns out to be 8 cups.  We do our best to give you accurate chopping amounts but vegetables can vary in size and shape.  
  7. Read through the recipe cards and instructions. It is really important for cooking day that you make sure you understand them. It also gives you the opportunity to read and comprehend the instructions with a clear head.  Once you start cooking and have muffins in the oven, soup on the stove, and are trying to get the next recipe together, it’s easy to get confused.
  8. Make sure you have all the kitchen supplies you will need. You'll need several mixing bowls, stock pots, measuring cups, measuring spoons, sheet pans, muffin tins, 13x9 pans, 8x8 pans, and liquid measuring cups as well. I have about 3 sets of each of these things, and on my cooking day -- I used them all! You may even need a second crockpot for cooking day depending on the menu you chose. Remember that the disposable metal pans from the grocery store can be a lifesaver too. I got 6 of the 8x8 pans to use for my casserole type dishes to be frozen in.
  9.  Do yourself a FAVOR... Invest in some onion goggles! I'm not even kidding you how much you will thank me when you are chopping 10 (TEN) onions in one session. The fumes will kill you! 
  10.   Take some time the night before cooking day to set all your ingredients on a table. Include your freezer bags, labels, sharpies, and all of your ingredients that don't need to be refrigerated. Set it all out so that you're not looking for items on cooking day - that can really slow you down. Also you'll have that one last opportunity to double check that you have everything you need.

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