How to Prepare and Customize your Bulk Cooking Plan –  With Printables

How to Prepare and Customize your Bulk Cooking Plan – With Printables

One of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made in the history of motherhood was venturing into bulk cooking freezer meals. There is nothing better than a healthy and delicious hot meal on the table at the end of the day.  As much as I love cooking, doing so requires energy and effort…both of which run a little low when stuck at home with a preschooler and an infant.  Having a stock supply of both heat and serve and crock pot meals sitting in the freezer has really taken the pressure off.

They are great on long exhausting days that I find myself propping my eyes open with toothpicks just to get through, and busy days when I’m on the go trying to keep my sanity in tact. I’m sure they will be equally appreciated when I am back to balancing both work and family responsibilities.

While planning and preparing for my dive into this new cooking concept, I spent some time online checking out what I later realized to be, too-good-to-be-true bulk cooking plans.  Things like…”how to make 20 meals in 30.8 seconds and still keep your kitchen clean” and “how to be the perfect house wife and make enough meals to feed the starving children of Africa in 20 minutes”.

As much as I TRY to be superwoman, it’s just not always possible so reality check: there is absolutely nothing wrong with investing in a full day of cooking to prepare a month or more of meals.  In this post I will share step-by-step how I went about my most recent batch of bulk cooking and pass along some tips so you can customize your own plan.

  1. Create the menu:  Many of the meal plans I came across online included less-than-appealing optionsweet corn bread cooling while the chili is cooking s and were not suited for my family’s tastes.  I ended up picking and choosing  recipes from a number of online sources, some of which I added to my freezer meals board on pinterest.  I also threw in some tried and true favorites from my collection of family recipes.  I tried to build a menu with variety including soups, stews, vegetarian, chicken, pork and beef meals that would pair nicely with fresh made rice or noodles.  I also incorporated thaw and heat, cook from frozen and crock pot recipes.  I was also mindful of selecting recipes that shared common ingredients to shorten my grocery list and to save time with batch preparing the meals.
  2. Plan ahead: Originally my plan was to spend one full day power-cooking although I soon realized I was a little too ambitious considering it was in the heat of summer, I was 9 months pregnant and in early labor.  Seriously…what was I thinking!?  Since my giant belly kept me over a foot away from the edge of the counter, I reluctantly gave into the idea of breaking my cooking up into two, four hour sessions over two days to spare my back. If I wasn’t pregnant, I’m quite confident my a-type stamina would have kept me going in one long session.  In my advance planning I decided I would spend day one cooking food that required pre-cooking and day two would entail raw assembly line style cooking.   I had selected 11 recipes so I decided to double each recipe and ration so I could feed 4 adults with one meal.I carefully planned out some of my quiche ready to cookfirst steps so I could multitask and minimize my time by working on a number of meals at the same time instead of cooking one meal end to end then moving onto the next.  Do not…I repeat…DO NOT attempt this with children running around the house.  Send them to Grandmas for the day or make arrangements for them to be out of your hair.  Trust me on this one.You will also want to put some thought into how you will store and freeze these meals.  I used large freezer bags so I could lay them flat and stack them to minimize freezer space.  I also used some disposable tinfoil containers that I picked up at Dollarama for meals that can be baked or heated up in the oven.   This makes for easy clean up and gives you the option to bring a meal to a guests house or pass along some soup to a sick friend.  You could also use freezer safe plastic or glass containers.  Be prepared and have space available in the freezer.  I did my cooking after a recent visit to Costco so had to rely on my expert packing skills to make everything fit in our freezer.  I outlined my meal and cooking plan below, indicating where I was able to squeeze an extra meal out of the doubled recipe.  My efforts resulted in 27 meals and 2 batches of mini corn bread loaves.  Check out the printable recipe cards for my bulk cooking menu here.
  3. pea soupDay oneSome Precooking required
    Split pea soup with ham x2= 3 meal
    Chilli x3
    Sweet Corn bread x2
    Sweet & sour meatballs x2
    Taco soup x2 = 3 meals
    Quiche with ham, veggies and cheese x 2
    Day twoRaw assembly line style
    Chicken cattcitorre x2
    Orange chicken x2
    Coconut curry chicken x2
    Maple dijon chicken x2
    Hearty beef stew x 3
    Maple mustard glazed pork chops x2
  4. Groceries: I went through each recipe to create a shopping list of ingredients and increased the quantities on my list as I found them listed on additional recipes.  Check out the printable grocery list for my menu here.  Here are some other tips I came up with:
    • Buy bulk – I picked up a bulk bag of peppers, onions and zucchini at Costco and saved a ton of money
    • Check your cupboards and work with what you’ve got to shave down the grocery list
    • This isn’t gourmet cooking so no need to get the finest cuts of meat, chicken thighs are a cheaper alternative to chicken breasts for recipes that call for meat to be cubed
    • frozen bulk meals stacked to save freezer spaceAlter recipes to have more of the vegetables that are in season, on sale and what you love
    • Consider saving some time for a little more money: boneless skinless meat, thin-skin variety potatoes that don’t require peeling, pre-chopped vegetables etc.
    • When in doubt, always buy the larger package.  It’s not fun to have to go out in the middle of cooking to get more of something
    • Don’t forget to add food storage to your grocery list if applicable i.e bags, foil containers, saran wrap etc.
    • Bring a calculator to determine the number of cans you need to buy to equal the volume required based on your grocery stores selection

    $236 /27 meals = $8.74/meal portioned for 4 people = $2.18/person per meal


  5. Start cooking & freezing: This is the hardest part.  You know you have a full day ahead of you so make it fun.  Grab a girlfriend to help, pour a glass of wine, crank the music…whatever motivates you.

Cooking tips:

  • Clean and sanitize your work space before you begin
  • Organize and layout all your ingredients on the kitchen tablehearty beef stew
  • Set up your work station by pulling out knives, cutting boards, can openers, mixing bowls, measuring cups etc.
  • Set up a sink of soapy hot water so you can easily rinse off measuring cups and spoons for reuse with other ingredients
  • The food processor is your friend – invest or borrow
  • A kitchen scale is also helpful to have
  • Keep your garbage/green bin close by with the lids off
  • Tidy as you go, putting away ingredients you will no longer need
  • Work in an assembly line fashion whenever possible – wash all produce, open all cans, prep and chop each vegetable type and keep in prep bowls for use in multiple recipes
  • You cook, your partner cleans at the end…. that’s only fair right?
  • Ensure your containers are sealed well to prevent freezer burn and label appropriately.  Check out printable instructions for the meals I cooked.

I guarantee you’ll stop at the half way mark, look around the kitchen and want to cry.  There will be food on the floor and in your hair, dishes in the sink, and it will look like your kitchen cupboards vomited all over your counter tops.  You might ask yourself, ” What was I thinking?  Am I really cut out for this?  I wonder if I could pay my mother-in-law to come over and finish for me?  Could I squeeze in a nap while the biscuits bake?”  Keep going…. YOU CAN DO IT!!! A-type power being sent your way!  You are about halfway to realizing the greatest sense of accomplishment, peace and ease of mind that a mother can possibly achieve.  Don’t stop now…you got this!



  1. Tracy - February 10, 2016

    I planned to do this back when you first posted it! What took me so long? My B-type tendencies, that’s what! It appears you got all the A-type genes, but I’m so gonna do this!

    • Sarah Barah - February 10, 2016

      LOL! I’ll give you a little “a” if you give me a little “b” 🙂 Bulk cooking would be perfect for your busy life Tracy especially with the extra mouths to feed during the school year!

  2. Jenifer - February 10, 2016

    I do this as well, such a time saver for busy working mommies too!
    thanks for the post.. reminds me to make my list for this weekends grocery trip!!

    • Sarah Barah - February 10, 2016

      I’m actually in need of another bulk cooking session. I have only a few meals left. I kind of hoard them… I have trouble allowing myself to run out LOL Silly, I know. So, I would love to partner with someone at some point to save on effort and time so let me know if you’d be interested!

  3. Michelle - February 10, 2016

    I just started doing this! But so far just on the weekend prepping and freezing for the work ahead! Would love to get organized and the time to myself to do a full months worth! It definitely makes the weeks that much better coming home to supper cooked and not having to deal with trying to cook something while the kids are whiney and starving!

  4. Dawne - February 10, 2016

    Love this post! I keep saying “some day” but haven’t done it yet.

    • Sarah Barah - February 11, 2016

      I received a comment on this post via facebook with more great freezer meal ideas that I thought I’d share for those following comments:

      – baked beans
      – turkey / chicken pot pie
      – scalloped potatoes with ham
      – turkey / chicken quinoa soup
      – beef and barley soup

      I think I’ll add the pot pie and baked beans to my freezer meal list for my next bulk cooking session!

  5. Kerri - June 14, 2016

    Thanks for the post! I’m a super busy, stay at home mom of 3 and also run my own business. I’ve been freezer cooking for awhile and it’s a huge sanity saver ?
    We’re getting ready for a big move and having meals ready in the freezer is just one less thing I have to think about.

    • Sarah Barah - June 14, 2016

      Hi Kerri, We just made a big move as well from NB to Ontario! Now that I’m settled I think i’ll be making another batch before i return to work. Have any favorite recipies you use?

  6. Kerri - June 14, 2016

    I really love the book Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik. Everything I’ve made from it has been really good and it’s healthy…no canned soups etc. It’s also geared toward people who bulk shop at Costco.

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