How to Bulk Cook

Assembling salads in a jar for our cooler

Assembling salads in a jar for our cooler


Bulk cooking gives you power to be generous spontaneously. Taking a meal is simplified when cooking ahead. If you see a need, you are prepared to meet it. In Proverbs 22:9 (NLT) God reminds us that , “Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.” In addition to practical needs being recognized and resolved, you will be filled with the joy bursting from magnanimous action!

People that are fed feel loved!!

Cookbooks and books on bulk cooking already exist in the market. If you are a confident cook, just start researching this idea. If you are new, start with simple meals. If you are just beginning all of your experience with food preparation and kitchen management, explore recipe books and blogs that teach cooking. Ask someone in your life who is fantastic with food to share their most well received and well loved meals.

Most people who are excellent at something are thrilled to be asked to teach someone what they know well.

This section will demonstrate how to plan what works best for your situation.

  1. Look through what you have in your pantry and freezer. Incorporate what you already have purchased. This only costs you time. Using what you already have saves you from making the purchase again. It also keeps you from wasting food that has to be thrown out when it expires. You do not purchase items that you already have because you know your inventory. You may need to look back to what items make up a well-stocked pantry and add some of these to your supplies.

  2. Determine the length of time you will need to prepare food for as you bulk cook. Let’s start with one week.

  3. Write down “breakfast,” “lunch,” and “dinner” and “snacks.” Allow for space to write food plans for seven days under each of these. Plan all the breakfast meals first, then lunches, then suppers and snacks. (see example below). If you are keen on saving money, look through the weekly sale flyers where you will be picking up food.

  4. An alternate start to this process might be to start by writing down dinner plans for the weeks to come. Later, once you are in a routine with dinner, add breakfast and lunch and snack plans.

  5. Based on your current supplies, make a list of what you need. Sort your food needs into categories of like items. I sort by areas of the grocery store. For example, if you follow my list, it will take you to the right side of the grocery store, through the middle, across the back and then up the left side. I really aim to stay in order and not back track. Laugh at this, I know. Almost every sizable trip to the store has me on a hunt for one or more items they have moved. Consider ordering your food online where this service is optional. It saves so much time. Also, you can send a teenager or your husband to pick it up. That is happening right now as I write. My college daughter is picking up our groceries. I smile because this is wonderful. I ordered them last night online.

  6. Pick up your groceries. Unload. Keep in mind if you are working a system like this, you will not be buying very much that is not on your list because you know what you have. You built a stockpile for items you use all the time. Your list should be shorter. Your weekly cost should shrink. Honestly, the only time this does not work for us is when I send my husband to the store. He is a very enthusiastic person who loves to go to the grocery store. He buys what is on the list, but adds lots of other “fun” food. Maybe you have one of these fun loving guys at your house too. If you are this person, really consider shopping for your groceries online, because it will eliminate the distractions of adding items to your cart that are not on your list.

    One of the most exciting changes to grocery shopping has been the online shopping with the pick up outside the store. I love this option. When shopping for many new items or just buying a sizable number of things, the pick-up is quite a time saver. By being thoughtful in food planning, trips to the grocery store should be limited. Going frequently to pick up “just a few things” adds great cost to your budget.

  7. Keep all produce out on the counter. Wash and cut all fruit and veggies for the week. Bag, mark and store. Exceptions might be bananas and apples stored on the counter for grab and go snacks.

  8. Cook for the week ahead. I usually start with the meat or the main dishes for the evening since they are more time consuming. Store all food in containers or bags they will be used in. Store in proper portions. If you are making lunches for the week, distribute them into containers or bags that make grab and go easier for the morning rush. Check out bento boxes for lunch. They fun up the process. I am a snob and only like YETI cooler packs for lunch boxes and coolers. The cooler packs stay cold so long and do not leak. What else could you ask for?

  9. Stand back and look at your refrigerator shelves. Admire all the stacked containers and bagged food. Congratulate yourself for all of your hard work. Contemplate knowing all week what food is available. Anticipate the fast grab for the rush hour in the morning for work and school. Enjoy not being anxious as the dinner hour approaches. Your food is prepped or mostly ready to cook or just heat.

A helpful hint for your prep time would be to keep the prep day meal simple. It might even be pizza or something in your Instapot. Consider using paper products to ensure a quick and easy clean up.

A few notes on bulk cooking:
If you live the homeschool lifestyle like our family or pack up everyone for school and work, this system of preparing in bulk works beautifully. Breakfast is ready to go with minimal mess. You pull up to the 11am protein snack break ready to eat cut veggies and hummus. Maybe your kids like protein smoothies like mine at break. Because you are preparing food ahead, your valuable homeschool time can remain just that. As you finish schooling for the day, there is no stress about what to make for dinner. Decisions are already made. No energy is expended on what to make. Just pull your meal out to cook without investing time in food preparation. Minimal prep and minimal clean up.

Packing a cooler or lunches is easier when you bulk cook. One of our favorite main foods to pack is to pack salads in jars.

Taking a meal is greatly simplified when you plan ahead. Create a duplicate of a meal that you are cooking for your family. Add a dessert and salad and a meal is ready to share. Prepare this meal in disposable tins so no dishes will need to be washed or returned.

Just a quick note on caregivers. Please develop a sensitivity to this group of people. They are all around us. Look for parents of handicapped children, adult children caring for aging parents, family caring for their loved ones suffering with cancer or ALS or a myriad of diseases. Often the weak or sick person is given treatment and attention is paid to their needs. However, the caregiver usually implements the transportation, movement, and nursing, often to their own neglect. Be sensitive to these people. Look for them. Take them a meal or muffins or frozen main dishes. See a need and meet it.

An alternative would be to double or quadruple meals when you make them. Put the extra meal in the freezer properly marked with a date.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that your freezer was full of possibilities of meals already prepared? Consider the ease of pulling out a chicken dish and cooking it with steamed vegetables and a tray of warm, homemade chocolate chip cookies. Envision a day full of unexpected happenings which delays your arrival home. No worries. Select a prepared dinner from the freezer. No need to pick up expensive, processed food on the way home. Imagine finding out suddenly that a friend’s husband is coming home from the hospital this afternoon. Because you have meals put up, it is easy to pull out a lasagna and begin cooking it. Add a quick tossed salad and garlic bread and you have a warm meal that meets the need you see. Magic? No.

The benefit of routines and rhythms is how they allow you to be generous.