Today I am going to share with you some of the reasons I love to bulk cook, tips to make it easier, as well as my Swedish meatball recipe which tastes *amazing,* even after a stay in our deep freezer.
We bought said small deep freezer off of Craigslist for less than $100 before Philomena was born two years ago. We needed to store our share of a grass fed cow from an Amish farm that we went in on with friends. I had plenty of room left after the meat was delivered, so I figured I would make some breakfast egg burritos and a few dinners for the post partem period.
Those meals were lifesavers as we navigated the first days of parenthood. When Zelie arrived in July, my mom handled the meals during her stay, but after she left it was us alone with this super active toddler and a new baby who wanted to nurse 24/7. I was, again, so glad I had cooked meals in bulk.
Need a few more reasons?
Why You Should Cook in Bulk
1. Bulk cooking uses less dishes and time. Making rice for a meal? Why not add a few more cups of water and rice to the same pot and have rice for 4 meals instead of one? Instead of spending the time measuring out the rice and water, cooking it, and washing the same pot four different nights over the course of a month, you do it once.
2. Bulk cooking saves money, as you eliminate unneccesary and unhealthy take-out or pizza delivery when a hectic day derails your plans to cook dinner. You can also buy more of an ingredient on sale to use in bulk cooking to take advantage of a good price and ensure that none of it is wasted.
3. If you store your bulk cooking dinners as I recommend below, you will have extra meals on hand to easily bless someone you love with when you find out they are sick or had a family emergency that day.
4. Preparedness – if you suddenly had a family emergency and one of your kids is in the hospital, or if you or your spouse loses their job and there is a gap between paychecks… having some meals stocked up will be very helpful when the nomal family routine is disrupted.
Bulk Cooking Tips
1. Don’t worry about seeking out special recipes labeled for use as freezer meals. We have bulk cooked almost every single one of our favorite recipes, from breakfast muffins to savory dinners, and even cookies, and the only one I wasn’t thrilled with was the texture of whole stuffed bell peppers.
2. Use these handy leftover storage containers from Dollar Tree.
They come in packs of 3 for a dollar, in various shapes and sizes. Their lids allow for easy labeling and dating using a permanent marker on top. They eliminate smushed food in freezer bags, the meal can be baked or reheated right inside, and they’re perfect for blessing others with a meal since there are no dishes for them to wash and return.
3. I love making homemade pizzas and freezing them on these pizza pans from Dollar Tree wrapped with plastic wrap or tinfoil on top.
I usually cook mine on a pizza stone, but this is a great option to have quick meatless pizzas for Friday stacked and ready to go in the freezer, no heavy stone or expensive pizza pan required.
4. Store sauces (like the Swedish meatball sauce recipe below) in baggies on the side so that your pasta or rice doesn’t absorb them and the dish taste dry or flavorless. If you need to thaw out your sauce bag in a hurry, simply place it in a bowl full of cold water in the sink, with cold water trickling over it, and it will thaw in minutes!
5. Keep some frozen veggies on hand to serve as quick sides to go along with the meals you prepare. Broccoli cooks up in no time, and tossed with butter, salt, and pepper is our favorite quick side to go with a frozen meal.
6. Instead of one massive bulk cooking day a month, just pick one day a week to make a few extra recipes worth of that night’s dinner (or that morning’s breakfast) for your freezer. This method stocks the freezer slower than huge cooking days, but is less shocking to the budget, is less exhausting than cooking for 10 straight hours, and it let’s you get a feel for what meals you like frozen. (And who can spend a whole solid day cooking with little ones?)
Now on to the meatballs!
1 lb ground beef (I use grass fed if the budget allows)
1 slice bread (I use a sprouted whole wheat bread), cut into small pieces
1/4 c plain whole milk yogurt
Splash of whole milk
1tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, smoked paprika, and pepper
Mix together and form firm small meatballs. See how I lazily lined my cutting board with tinfoil? No raw-meat-touched cutting board to wash.
Pan fry in butter (I love Kerrygold), a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Serve over rice with sauce. Don’t wash the pan! You need it to make the sauce below…
4 cloves garlic
1 T butter
3 T whole wheat flour
16 oz beef broth or stock
1/4 c heavy cream or milk
1/4 c whole milk yogurt
1/4 c parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely chop the garlic and sautee in butter on medium high heat for a minute in the pan used to cook the meatballs, scraping up the cooked bits to make your sauce taste amazing. Whisk in the flour and slowly add the beef stock, continuously whisking, to prevent lumps. Add in cream, yogurt, and parmesan, with plenty of pepper and some salt to taste. If the sauce is too thin, whisk in more flour. If it is too thick, thin it with more milk or cream.
1 recipe of this makes about 15 – 20 balls. Multiply it by however many baches you want to make. I did 4 batches last time which was enough for 6 meals for my husband, toddler, and I. We like to eat bell peppers and hummus and roasted carrots on the side of this meal.
I am no recipe developer, and am one of those annoying people who cook by sight, so these measurements are approximations. Feel free to adjust to suit your taste.
Do you bulk cook? I would love to hear what your favorite foods are to freeze for future meals in the comment section.
Thanks for reading and may God bless your day!