Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Going Batching! What it is I do

I know I have posted many times about batch parties. I love them and they are really my favorite part of Menus, Meals and More. I get to hang out with fun people, learn new things and show a couple of my favorite cooking techniques and help people ffed their families healthy meals in an economical way. What could be better? Ok well sometimes it is better when there is wine and snacks, but that makes everything awesome.

There have been posts in the past about what a participant does at a batch party, but I have never really detailed what it is that I do. Its more than just shopping and setting up..... A LOT more.

The first thing that I do is come up with a selection of recipes that contain somewhat similiar ingredients, but don't taste alike. This way there isn't a ton of wasted ingredients left in a bottle, but you don't get tired of eating the same thing over and over again. After everyone has chosen the recipe that they want to be responsible for assembling, I write down every ingredient of each recipe and multiply the amount by the number of people participating.  When recipes call for the same ingredient, I combine them. Most of the time this involves some conversion fun because one recipe will call for teaspoons and another will call for tablespoons, etc.  Once the ingredient list is made, I will look through the local warehouse stores website to see what they carry in various amounts and prices.  This also involves some math because they don't sell soy sauce by the tablespoon. I have learned a ton about how many cups of cheese are in a pound and how many pork loins are needed to make 48 chops!  Learning the price break on buying a case versus individual items also helps everyone save a ton of money.

After I make the list, I estimate the total cost of groceries add my fee and divide it up by the number of participants. This is the "buy-in" that  is due before I do the shopping. The host of the party is responsible for collecting this. Most of the time I know the participants and they end up bringing me to the money, but I really need to delegate this more as a host duty.

Anyway after the buy-in is collected, I go to the various stores where I can find the best deals on the ingredients. Sometimes this includes going to Sam's Club, HEB, the local farmers market and Asian grocery store. The shopping usually takes me 2 full days and then I spend at least one day prepping. I butcher whole pork loins to make chops and roasts and trim all the chicken myself. There is a significant cost benefit to the participants when I do this, but it does take some time. I also mix fillings and chop veggies so that things just have to be assembled on party night.

On the day of the party, I come to the hosts house with tables and all of the food. I set up the tables and "stations" for each participant. Ideally, when the participants arrive all of their ingredients are set out for them with a copy of their chosen recipe. We hang out, chitchat, make up some meals and have a great time. I am there to help when needed, show techniques, run out for needed ingredients and kind of "conduct" the assembling. After everyone is done, I clean up and we settle up any differences in the estimated cost versus the actual cost of groceries.  Everyone goes home with a bunch of meals to stuff their freezer and a bit less stress. How could I not love this?


Hollis said...

I'm glad that I have you to do all that when we do batch cooking b/c there is now way I would be able to do it on my own. You are amazing!

Anonymous said...

There is no way you are making very much for the amount of work you have to do! I am amazed and can't wait to come tonight.
One thing that might make it easier on you is to consider charging a non-refundable deposit for the class-that way you can get come of the shopping done whenever you need to and when it works for you.