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Save Money by Cooking for Six

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In my household, there are two of us, not six. However, one thing I learned from my mom is that you can save a ton of time and money by making large batches of food. Whether you save it for leftovers or freeze it for next week, there are quite a few benefits to cooking 2-3 times the amount you actually need for one meal.

Buy (and cook) in bulk
When we need chicken or ground beef for dinner, I cook a couple extra breasts or an extra pound of ground beef because we’ll likely use it later in the week. We’ll have grilled chicken for BBQ chicken pizza and use extra cooked chicken for quesadillas or chicken caesar salad later in the week. It saves a lot of time from having to defrost and cook a piece of chicken every time we need it.

As for other bulk items, a dozen hardboiled eggs make a great nutrition-packed addition to our packed lunches (did you know you can save $2-3k per year just by packing your lunch instead of eating out?!). I’ll cut up a 2lb bag of carrots, a few bell peppers and a head of cauliflower or broccoli Sunday evening and it makes packing lunches during the week a breeze. Open a few cans of tuna then mix in mayo, hard boiled eggs, and pepper to get a couple days worth of tuna salad or sandwiches. I could go on and on with examples. You’ll find a lot more of them at my site, Budget for Health.

Produce stays fresh
What if you only have time to do a grocery run once a week? By the end of the week some of the produce you bought is looking a little sad and may get tossed out (aka money thrown out). Making a big batch of baked penne with roasted vegetables (peppers, onions, mushrooms, & zucchini) over the weekend lets me use up a lot of produce early in the week and I can freeze the dish until I’m ready to throw it in the oven. No mess from dirtying dishes, no effort put into cooking on a weeknight, no spoiled produce to throw away.

Avoid spontaneous eating out
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I mention this quote a lot to my clients. If you have 2-3 meals in large quantities already prepared, it can lessen the temptation to just order pizza or swing by the fast food drive through on your way home.

Cook less per week
Not everyone has the time or energy to cook a meal every night of the week without relying on some form of sodium-filled, processed convenience food item. If I make a big batch of my baked penne for dinner, I’ll pack some leftovers in our lunch for the next day and there’s enough left for dinner the next night. It’s enough food so you don’t get sick of having the same thing 4 nights in a row but it lasts you through more than just one meal.

What meals/food items do you prepare in bulk?

This has been a guest post from Jessica. She is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness, and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget For Health.

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AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

17 Comments

  1. I cook a lot of things like curry, tagine and chilli in bulk (am vegan). One huge advantage no one seems to talk about is that these foods improve with age. So cook a curry the night and leave a batch or two in the fridge. It will taste even more awesome over the next 2 days.

    • That is a very good point! Soups, casseroles, pasta dishes… They seem to double in flavor by the following day!

  2. Heck the wifey and I are always cooking for six so most of the things we cook are bulk. We are a family of five and with two teenage boys that are growing we tend to have to cook for 8-9 its seems. Things like pastas are our favorite easy large meal. I have to agree with Forest something just taste better if you try it a day or two later.

    • My mom did the same for my three sisters and dad. She had giant aluminum pans stocked in the pantry or her bulk cooking days. It’s very time efficient for a family your size!

  3. We’re a family of 5. I cut large chicken breasts in half so we get 2 meals out of them and cook lots of rice, beans, and pasta. I cook 2 lbs of ground beef at a time. We’ll have tacos one night and the next I’ll add the leftover ground beef to pasta sauce for spaghetti night. We have salad about every night, too, & I try to make a large one that will last for 2 meals.

  4. In your case it’s more like cooking for 10-12! I like the concept of using leftover meat for a different dish so you don’t have to get sick of having leftovers too many times. Thanks for sharing, Renee.

  5. As a busy mom, I usually cook in batches most of the time. I cannot afford to eat out a lot and so cooking in batches helps me save a lot of time and money.

    • It’s very hard to eat out these days without spending WAY more than you would on a home meal. My husband is one of 5 kids so he rarely remembers a time they ate out growing up!

    • Hi Jeremy. That’s a practical thing to do especially since money disappears very quickly these days, and I see nothing wrong with that.

  6. I usually cook way to much food when I’m hungry and end up with lots of leftovers to use for lunches. This week, I made enough Paella for dinner that night and 4 lunches. It was delicious and so easy!

  7. That sounds delicious! It’s a relief to come home some nights knowing I don’t have to make a huge mess in the kitchen since leftovers are ready to go.

      • So do I, Monica. Not sure if you’d agree with me, though, but some leftovers taste better than when they’re just served at the table.

  8. Guess we’ll have to cook for 12, since there are 6 of us in our family. 🙂

    Great post, and very appropriate Jessica.

    • Guess so! It’s worth the time you’ll save NOT cooking dinner the next night 😉


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