Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hooray for Guest Bloggers!!

Wow, this week has been crazy and I can't wait to catch you all up on it! For now though, Kimberly at It began in Camp 4 has written an amazing review of one of my favorite cookbooks - Fix, Freeze, Feast. Make sure to check it out as well as Friday's post on Fair Trade Chocolate, also written by Kimberly. Enjoy!

I have been batch cooking for years. With small children at home, it's just been easier to spend one day cooking a bunch of meals so on those hectic weekdays I just have to pull something out of the freezer and warm it up. I got by with a lot of casseroles and muffins for a while. It was boring. The food wasn't that good.

Then one of my friends bought me a copy of Fix, Freeze, Feast* (the first edition) and my whole batch cooking world changed. There are so many things I love about this book that I don't even know where to start.

Maybe I should start with opening the book. The way it's bound, it easily lays open and flat on the counter when you're using a recipe, which is a key point so many cookbooks neglect. Once you get the book open, it gives you step by step directions for batch cooking. How to plan your shopping lists, prepare your ingredients and assemble and freeze everything. Each recipe makes several meals (6-8 for most of them) and you can easily create a month's worth of family size dinners in an afternoon's worth of work.

The recipes are scaled to "club size" measurements wherever possible, so instead of needing to buy 20 cans of tomato sauce at the grocery store, the recipe is based on the 100oz cans, large containers of dairy products and the packs of meat sold at Sam's Club or Costco. This makes shopping a lot easier. I made notes on the inside cover of my book about the prices for ingredients I use a lot so I can easily compare prices if there are sales at the regular grocery store.

I also love that most of the recipes don't require you to actually cook anything before it's frozen. Not only is it faster, but since you are assembling cold ingredients, you can immediately put them in plastic zip top bags. Even recipes that include pasta have you use raw pasta and compensate by having extra liquid so they cook up properly. Some of the meals, such as lasagna and manicotti, are easy to just throw in the oven on a hectic day. Others, like raging garlic pork stir fry (one of our favorites), require some assembly and cooking, but all of the prep work is done so that you just have to throw everything in the pan in the right order.

Lastly, the book is organized by type of meat. There are chicken, beef, pork, vegetarian, sauces and breakfast sections. Since meat is often the most expensive ingredient, this is helpful for deciding what meals to make. For instance, if chicken is on sale, you can pick several recipes from the chicken section to make. Within each section, the recipes are further grouped by the cut of meat used, so you can focus on chicken breasts or leg quarters, depending on what you're working with.

I can't say enough how much I LOVE this book! The only major change I've made is that I halve a lot of the recipes. Our family consists of 2 adults, 2 small children and a baby, so with a full recipe, we often have leftovers and I don't like leftovers. Also, when I was first trying out the recipes, I didn't want 8 meals of something I didn't like in the freezer (though, it's turned out there hasn't been anything yet that we really haven't liked).

The "look inside this book" feature on Amazon lets you see the basic layout of the book and several recipes, it's definitely worth checking out if you are interested in batch cooking. The only thing easier than this book for getting started on batch cooking is hiring a service like Menus, Meals and More to do the leg work for you and help you through the process while enjoying an evening with friends!

*Affiliate link. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own!

Kimberly Hill blogs almost daily at It Began In Camp 4 about cooking, food preservation, homeschooling, sewing, road tripping with kids and anything else that comes up.

Check out other posts like this on Wanderfood Wednesday


Lizzy said...

What a neat guest blog! Sounds like a great cookbook...I need to be this organized to have homemade freezer ready meals :)

Thanks, Elizabeth and Kimberly~

All That's Left Are The Crumbs said...

I love guest blog posts too because I get introduced to some amazing new blogs.