Monday, June 18, 2007

Cooking in Bulk

The thought of Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) is kind of terrifying to me. It just seems like hard work. But I don't mind the idea of doing mini cook-ups. It's nice to have some meals in the freezer that have been at least partially cooked and give me an easy meal when I'm busy or not feeling great. It saves on buying take away or prepackaged type meals as well.

Last week our local supermarket had roast beef on sale for $5.99 a kg. I'm always on the lookout for beef priced under $6 a kg so I grabbed 2 big ones. One of these I'll cook in the slow cooker as a roast. The other I've diced up and cooked in the slow cooker with some of the cream of mushroom soup I made. Boy did the house smell good yesterday while it was cooking! Usually when I do something like this I have in mind to have some for tea the same night and then freeze the rest when it's cooled. I knew it wouldn't be ready in time for tea last night though so we had to put up with the smell without even getting to eat some of it. LOL.

This morning I divided it up into meal size portions. One of the benefits of cooking up a bulk lot of meat is the way I tend to get a "free" meal of meat from it. I usually work on around 500g of meat (without a bone) feeding us for a meal. I cooked up 2kg of beef and made enough for 5 meals instead of 4. I'm not inclined to put aside 100g per meal of meat but when I cook it up in bulk like that it just seems to stretch to the extra meal. This works out to around $2.50 (including the cost of the mushroom soup ingredients) per meal for our meat portion. Bargain!

Sometimes I add some beans to the meat to stretch it even further. I decided against that this time as I've been adding them to so many things lately and it's nice to have a change every once and a while. They are cheap and very healthy though. And go quite nicely with the steak and gravy.

I tend to use this precooked meat in either a shepherd's pie (with mashed potato on top) or in a pie plate with a single sheet of puff pastry on top. I think I'll also make some individual pies as well. I'm sure they'll go down well as a warm weekend treat.

I remembered something about cornflour as I was making this too. It doesn't like being cooked twice. Next time I make cream of mushroom soup I think I'll cook and freeze the mushrooms and just make up the cream of anything soup either at the time or as a dry mix in advance. It didn't really turn out to be a problem as I usually need to add cornflour when I'm using the tinned variety anyway. It just didn't stay thick once it had been cooking for a while. Not cooking the actual cream of anything soup in advance will actually turn out to be less effort for me anyway.


Kin said...

I'm gonna have to read that when I'm a bit more coherant LOL.

I often do a similar thing with mince. I use the same mix for spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, shepherds pie, taco's etc, so I usually make 2kg at a time and that does 4 meals.

And if I'm really lazy, there's 4 meals in the freezer if I can convince DH to make spaghetti hehe

lightening said...

Yeah, I do the same with mince. I get 3 meals from 500g though. It sort of evolved from 1 meal to 2 meals and now 3 meals. Actually my last batch (which was admittedly 600g of mince not 500g) did us 4 meals (1 spaghetti bolognese, 1 tacos and 2 meat loaves - mixed with lentils). No one seems to be noticing there's less and less mince and more vegies and pulses per meal.

I find spaghetti bolognese is a great one for DH too (not that he's not capable of cooking just about anything but prefers the easier stuff). We use wholemeal spiral pasta instead of spaghetti as it's easier for the kids. So he just needs to cook the pasta and reheat the sauce.

Kin said...

Oh, what proportion of lentils do you use? I've been meaning to try that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are so not going to believe me Lightening! I just bought 2 roasts (for $6.99/kilo though)LOL. I cut 4 slices off to make steaks for a "steak bake" (recipe off SS site), the rest was diced to make steak & mushroom pies. The other roast will be divided to make 2 roast dinners. Good value hey? Love to make that dollar stretch!!
Madly Saving

lightening said...

Madly Saving - I do believe you but your comment sure did make me laugh. :-) Interesting coincidence.

Kin - I don't really measure when I'm adding beans or lentils - I just add some. That's not much help is it? I usually add grated zucchini and carrot to the mince plus a couple handfuls of lentils I guess. I also add oats to mine as a thickener but it does change the texture so it kind of depends if you like that.

If you mean the meatloaf/lentil loaf - ummm... I just added what I happened to have left of my spaghetti bolognese sauce (I'm guessing it was 2 cups or so) to the original recipe. The 2 loaves were a little smaller than the original loaf the recipe makes but that was okay as we had leftovers with the first one.

emma said...

Hi Jodi,

I will be at work from 5-6pm this afternoon - not long, but can be tricky for dinner - so I made up some soup I can reheat for dinner. It's the 2nd time I've had a made-ahead dinner when I've been working the 5-6 hour, and it makes life so much easier. My soup was very frugal - a wombok (chinese cabbage) bought for $1.50, carrots, pkt French Onion soup mix and some soup mix (pinto, borlotti beans, pearl barley and lentils) - tasty and nutritious too (except the French Onion pkt mix probably isn't).

lightening said...

Hey Emma,
The soup sounds great. Great idea. Do you get paid a higher rate when you only work for an hour? Especially at such a frustrating time of the day. Sounds like you have it worked out anyway. :-)