Call me crazy, but there are few things that excite me as much as stocking my freezer with ready-made meals and prepared portions just waiting to be turned into family dinner.
Like you, I lead a full life, and while I’m pretty passionate about getting a decent meal on the table each night, it doesn’t always happen easily. Sometimes I’m making dinner during breakfast, and other times I’m fortunate enough to have time in the afternoon to cook something just before serving it, but the best way for me to feed everyone is to equip myself with a well-stocked freezer.
And so, I threw a small batch cooking party earlier this month to help me do just that.
If you aren’t familiar, batch cooking is a term that refers to making a lot of food at one time and storing it for a later use. It doesn’t only have to be food destined for the freezer, but for me that’s really what works best.
My plan for the party was to invite people (fellow moms/friends) who would really appreciate making foods to tuck away for another day. I also wanted to use the new KitchenAid attachments that had generously been sent my way, and the two seemed like a marriage destined to work.
I started by creating recipes that would work well with the attachments I had received. Fortunately, I own two stand mixers so we were able to accomplish quite a lot in a small amount of time. There was no actual cooking done on the day my girls were here – anything that needed to be heated or sautéed was done so earlier in the day – and I equipped everyone with the tools and ingredients needed to make their recipe.
Our batch cooking menu for the day included:
- Garlic and herb sausage patties (made with the Food Grinder)
- Chicken meatballs (made with the Food Grinder)
- Ricotta and spinach ravioli (made with the Ravioli Maker)
- Lemonade concentrate (made with the Citrus Juicer)
- Cornmeal pancake mix (made with the All Metal Grain Mill)
Once made, everything was frozen in zip top baggies and freezer-safe containers and we divided the loot between us. A few hours of work yielded my friends with a couple of meals for their own freezers, and while we didn’t go crazy with the quantities, each recipe could have been tripled or quadrupled, if desired.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to execute a batch cooking event. It’s possible to invite a group of ladies over to make everything from soups and stews to casseroles and chicken fingers, with cookie dough balls thrown in for a quick sweet treat. Ask each guest to bring the ingredients for one full recipe and take charge of cooking it when you’re together, or alternatively, purchase all of the groceries needed for the recipes, and divide the bill by the number of cooks in attendance, with friends pitching in for the price of the food. You cook together – which is so fun – and everyone leaves with the same number of meals for their freezer.
As you can see in the photos the day was a great success, and I’m hearing reports that the food was well received once cooked and eaten at home. The dish that impressed me the most was the sausage patties. You all know those boys of mine can EAT, and having these in the freezer lets me whip up a homemade version of a popular breakfast sandwich quite quickly, sending everyone off to school and work with protein in their belly via good-for-you ingredients.
P.S. Stay tuned for part 2 where I'll share a tips for filling your freezer, as well as recipes for lemonade concentrate, cornmeal pancake mix, and ricotta and spinach ravioli!
Garlic and Herb Sausage Patties
Makes 2 dozen patties
- 1 - 4lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1” thick chunks
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup dried sage
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons fennel seed
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Affix the food grinder attachment to a stand mixer, and place a large bowl underneath.
Set the grinder to medium speed and pass the pork through. When completely ground add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, mix well with your hands, and push everything through the grinder once more.
Shape the meat into 3 - 4 inch round patties, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for 25-35 minutes, or until firm. Remove from the freezer and package in zip top bags or freezer-safe containers.
To cook: defrost patties in the refrigerator overnight. Pan-fry, or bake for 10 minutes in a preheated (400 degrees) oven.
A HUGE thank you to KitchenAid Canada for making this party possible by providing me with the attachments!