Last Friday I told you about my different take on the phenomenon of bulk cooking in this post HERE. I do recommend one specific cookbook which focuses on bulk cooking and prepping your own mixes to make cooking from scratch easier. You can find my favorite book, "Make A Mix" HERE, and for the record I have no financial stake in this book or in Amazon. I have used this book and its two volume predecessor from the 70s since I was married (which was the 90s not the 70s). Stop back and check out that post first so that you have an idea of what I going to cover in this and the next two posts. This post will cover selecting a cooking schedule and budgeting options. Next Friday, I will cover shopping, prep work, and actual cooking for the one and two day methods and the following will cover the week long method. I will add an unofficial one next Thursday which will be all about budgeting for a cook-a-thon.
There are basically three ways of tackling the bulk cooking for a 4-6 week period: all in one day, all in a weekend, or over a week. Each has it's pros and cons and you need to decide what works best for your family.
All in a Day
This is actually closer to two days than one, but bear with me. The idea is that you will shop, prep veggies, make your seasoning blends and plan your meals and snacks for the cooking day the day before you actually cook. The next day you will cook literally all day in a specific schedule, but your family will depend on cold pre-planned meals. If you have small children you will need a sitter or help from a friend. When my kids were little, this was my preferred method and I did the first weekend of the month. We planned no get togethers, no cleaning, nothing so that Ben could watch the kids while I cooked and he washed dishes after.
Pros: gets it all out of the way all at once with a payoff of 4-6 weeks of meals
Cons: takes carefully planned timing and enormous work, it is exhausting
All in a Weekend
This is more like a three day plan. You will need to prep the day before but the cooking will be split over two days. Sometimes when I had a very small infant, it was easier to do it over two days so that I could plan more opportunities for sitting down to nurse the baby but it still meant that my time was completely occupied by cooking that weekend.
Pros: it is less exhausting than the all at once plan with same payoff
Cons: it can be difficult to be motivated to "do it all over again" after such a long day
Over a Week
This plan requires that you shop and prep on one day and on each of five successive days prepare large batches of food, some of which can be used for the evening meal and the remainder frozen. If you have no help available, this can can be easier because the work load for each day is manageable but there is still a large amount of work. If you have a large family, then this is the only reasonable method. By the time I had six and seven kids, this was the only way I could bulk cook. When a regular meal needs three pounds of meat, it means cooking 72 pounds of meat to get a month's worth. When your family uses one pound it is only 24 pounds. That is a pretty big difference.
Pros: it less exhausting than either of the other two methods but still gives a good payoff (though it is only about 3-5 weeks because some of the food is eaten as it is prepared)
Cons: it can seem like a never ending cycle of one week of insane cooking and only three weeks off, which can hurt your motivation
So while I can tell you what I found worked for my family, only you can tell me what will work for you. Figure it out and get ready to roll up your sleeves, next week is going to start the long posts which will cover the nitty gritty. So, what method are up for?
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