Batch cooking has become a way of life in this household, since the discovery of my intolerance to wheat products 10 years ago. In a nutshell, it just means preparing food in a full recipe that serves 6, 8 or 10 people and freezing the leftovers. It isn’t really rocket science, but in this day where cooking at home seems to be a dying art in our fast-paced world, it just means returning to our roots somewhat. Our mothers and grandmothers did it almost every night, so why can’t we?
In my case, to take it one step farther and make it even easier, I separate and freeze the leftovers in single serving containers. That way, I have a complete and balanced meal in one container, ready to bring to work for lunch or to pop in the microwave to enjoy anytime I need a quick meal.
It takes a bit of preparation and organization, but it definitely pays off in the long run when I know exactly what went into each meal, I am not risking the repercussions of an accidental dose of wheat, and I can control portions of everything that I make.
Sometimes, the fun part of batch cooking is the ability to buy regular or family-sized sized portions of ingredients and know with certainty that with careful planning, little will get wasted. Better yet is the prospect of getting a deal or being able to save money on the ingredients, especially when the recipes you would like to make align with the weekly specials at the grocery store.
Then we have those serendipitous moments like the chicken lottery:
Some of the grocery stores nearby sell prepared (gluten free) roast chickens as a convenient option for busy families on the go. To me they are also a great shortcut to my batch cooking as I can take 15 to 20 minutes to remove all the meat from the bones and save the meat in a container for an upcoming recipe involving chicken (like a gluten free pot pie, chicken à la king or chicken minestrone). If I feel so inclined I can also save the bones to make chicken stock, also a key ingredient in many of my recipes.
But what happens if the store seems to have made more than they sold? One evening I was passing by one of those stores just a little after dinner hour to notice that the chickens had been marked down… by 50%.
I think I broke out in a cold sweat that first night as I thought I had hit the jackpot. To me it was like winning the chicken lottery!
Or perhaps it was more like a game show “bonus round” chicken question as I immediately felt the stress of quickly considering my options, trying to find the right answer: How many to buy?
My brain immediately went into overdrive calculating how much time I had in the next couple of days to remove the meat from the chicken and then freeze it for future use. I also had to consider how much room I had in the fridge to store these chickens until such time as I get through the de-boning process. Then was the question of exactly how much room I had in the freezer to take full advantage of this deal and pack the freezer with hearty chicken-based meals at an amazing price.
Of course the next step was over-analysis mode, when I started recalling that I noticed a couple of meals (resulting from cooking experiments with below average results) looking a little frosty and probably getting a little freezer-burned. I could make some extra room by tossing those out. So not only will there be work in taking these chickens home and preparing them like “André’s mini food processing plant”, but I should also precede it by a little spring cleaning of the fridge and freezer to make sure I make the best use of available room to fully take advantage of this deal of the century. As I said, it takes preparation and organization!
As I stood there in my brief analysis paralysis of poultry, another shopper swooped in and took two chickens. Fortunately there were 4 left, but I realized I had better make my move quickly.
I turned around to get a shopping cart only to return and see another shopper take notice of the deal and scoop up a chicken too.
Thank you fate, you have made my decision easy… I did the chicken check-out with the remaining three.
The weekend that followed was a little intense with the slow cooker, stove top, rice cooker and both cavities of my double oven operating at the same time. I expected a thank you note from my electricity supplier for that day, but that didn’t happen.
Either way, that weekend I was able to top up my stock of home-made frozen meals to the freezer’s full capacity. I saved a bit of money and was able to not worry about my gluten-free meal preparation for a few weeks after that.
Winning the chicken lottery really did offer me a little freedom while living the gluten-free dream.
NOTE: Always review ingredient lists before purchasing or consuming prepared products to ensure foods do not contain allergens or ingredients to offend food sensitivities or intolerances. If you are uncertain, please confirm with the grocery team staff.
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