Batch cooking

From Sunday night: Cooking large batches of food can be tiring, but for us, it’s worth it. Today, W- and I baked two pans of lasagna, stuffed and roasted two eggplants (eggplant and sausage stuffing), four peppers (rice, tomato, and sausage stuffing), and two roast chickens (couscous and dried fruit stuffing). No special recipes – just notes from the Internet and from cookbooks.

Cooking roughly 48 servings of food and cleaning up along the way took a little less than five hours, with both of us working in the kitchen. Ingredients came to about $2 per serving. Eating out costs roughly $6.50-11/meal. $210-$430 after-tax savings is pretty good for 10 hours of enjoyable work.

Now we’ve got a pot of baked beans in the oven. Because the beans will take a few more hours to bake, W- and J- made brownies. The difference in sizes between the small and extra-large eggs prompted a quick economics lesson on pricing strategies. In the meantime, I’ve heated up some strawberry-rhubarb tarts for a late-night snack. Life is good.

We could scale up even more. If we converted the raw ingredients in our freezer to cooked portions, bought more food containers, and planned the additional recipes, we could double our capacity easily, and maybe even reach quadruple the capacity. The chest freezer can hold around 60 square Rubbermaid TakeAlongs with some additional room for loose ingredients, and the fridge freezer can hold some more. The Internet has many sites dedicated to once-a-month cooking and other batch cooking ideas, so it’ll be easy to find recipe ideas to add to our repertoire.

What would doubling our output look like? Let’s say we use today’s cooking as a template. For variety, we’d add two Shake-n-Bake chickens and a large pot of curry. We’d probably need 18 additional cups of rice, and more food containers. It would probably take 2-3 more hours; maybe just one additional hour if we use pre-sectioned chicken thighs and drumsticks. If our freezer restocking time coincides with a sale on chicken, I think we’ll give it a try.

Hmm…

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  • http://baonkobento.wordpress.com Patricia

    Sounds good! The important thing to note I suppose is how long these dishes can last in the freezer. But then again, 48 dishes for 3 people makes food for about 5 days, so I doubt any of those will even approach “old”.

    You mentioned your chest freezer. May I know what brand you have?

  • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

    Patricia: Believe me, the lasagna gets finished pretty quickly. =) We’ve never had freezer burn issues with our individual portions of meals. Frozen ingredients, on the other hand…

    We’ve got a 5.3 cu.ft Haier chest freezer. It’s compact, but a useful size. I’ll work on using our current space more efficiently before I try making the case for a bigger one.