Making fresh and quick meals for your family can be made easy with batch preparation.
Being a mum is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. It’s also one of the hardest. I have always been an organised person but when I became pregnant just over 4 years ago I knew I needed to kick it up a notch. The change to how we lived was going to be huge so I wanted to have systems in place to make the transition as easy as possible.
I decided to start with the kitchen. I loved cooking but never really put much thought into how I was doing it. I would decide each day what was for dinner & pop to the shops for the ingredients. I realised that this was not practical with a baby & also that it was costing us a lot more money than if I put some planning into it.
Meal planning & shopping for batch freezing fresh food
I created a list of all the dinners we like to eat & then made a 4 week rotating roster. This roster mean that I know what is for dinner each night & can shop in advance. I also created a master shopping list, which includes all the items needed to make these meals, along with extras such as breakfast cereals, etc. In the beginning I did my shopping weekly but over the following few months I adapted it to make things easier for myself.
I now shop for pantry staples & meat monthly, fruit & vegetables fortnightly & fresh items like milk & bread weekly. In order to keep costs down I stick to a weekly budget & shop the specials at Coles, Woolworths & Costco. I get my vegetables from a local green grocer & meat from a local wholesale butcher as I find it fresher & cheaper.
The biggest part of this system is the food preparation. Once a month I do a meat, fruit & vegetable shop. The following fortnight I shop again for fruit & vegetables.
Food Prep for batch freezing
Once home I start my prep. I divide the meats in to portions for each meal & I cut it for the purpose. For example, chicken breast I cut into two sizes for the different types of meals, small pieces for stir-fry’s & larger pieces for baked dishes, etc. I then pop the portions into Décor Tellfresh containers, labelled with vinyl labels from Lovely Label Co, & into the freezer ready to be used over the next month. I love this system as every container has a specific purpose & is reusable, I just pop it in the dishwasher after use & then it’s ready for my next shop.
Preparing fruit and vegetables to freeze
For fruit & vegetables I follow a very similar system. I wash, dry & cut it all for their purpose. With fruit, I store the first week in the fridge. I use a container for a weeks’ worth of each item. For the second week we use items that will not spoil quickly such as apple, oranges, grapes, etc & pop freezable items in the freezer & grab them out when needed.
Fruits that freeze well
The fruits that I have found freeze well & tend to use the most in this way are apple, blueberries, banana, pineapple & watermelon (for smoothies), mandarin, mango, pear, raspberries, strawberries & tomatoes.
We also eat a bit of salad but most of this keeps well in the fridge for the fortnight when prepped this way.
Preparing vegetables for batch freezing
Vegetables are a little different as I portion them per meal, like with the meat. I store the first week in the fridge & the second week in the freezer. In the second week as I need vegetables for my meals, I cook them straight from the freezer, no defrosting, as this ensures they are still fresh & yummy. Our usual vegetables for freezing are beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, corn, mushroom, onion, pumpkin, red onion, spinach, spring onion & sweet potato.
I prepare potato directly before using as I feel they go a bit watery after being frozen.
This system not only saves us money but also time as most of the elements for the meals are ready in advance. I just need to add them to a pot, dish, frypan & it’s good to go. Due to the few hours I spend preparing this food, most meals my family have require less than 20 minutes to prepare which is a huge relief when hungry children are running around my feet while I am trying to cook.
About the author:
Karlie is the mother of 2 young girls with another due in July. She’s a small business owner, work from home mum & the co-creator of Facebooks Mums Who Organise & its affiliated groups. She loves an organised house & spending time with her family.