Bulk Cooking in Pictures

Every other month five large families gather together to cook 2 months worth of food for our freezers. Here is our latest cooking adventure in pictures.

The kitchen before the storm.Kitchen befor bulk cooking

A central area for the spices.Bulk spices

Before cook day starts someone sorts through all the groceries and puts all the non-perishables into bags labeled with the recipe name. Then when you begin a new recipe you can grab the bag for that recipe and have all the  items the recipe calls for. It also makes it harder to use ingredients meant for one recipe in a different recipe although it still happens.

Family bags

We use the front and back porches and lots of coolers to store frozen or perishable ingredients until we need them.corn and cheese

We have separate tables where we prep the raw meat.

raw chicken table

Mixing massive mounds of meatloaf.meatloaf prep

Everyone brings a laundry basket and lots of freezer containers for all the wonderful food they will be taking home.containers

Action!

action 1

Action 2Making progress.chicken rollups

action 3

Time for a break, well for some of us.nick sleep ergo

action 4

Some finished meals

Finished

Yum!chicken strips

Dividing meals into dishes.

dividing

We generally finish cleaning up around lunch time and then head home and fill our freezers to the brim with meals that should last us for the next two months. This cook day we made 22 different recipes for a total of at least 40 meals. Now if I could only remember to take dinner out of the freezer…

You may be interested in:

How to bulk cook with a group.
More specifics about our bulk cooking.
Some of our beef recipes.

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22 Responses to Bulk Cooking in Pictures
  1. Kristin
    April 9, 2009 | 11:58 am

    This sounds like such a great idea. I’m curious, though, how do you keep everything straight? Do you have to specially label meals missing ingredients ie. a meal minus peppers. Do you all split the cost of the food amongst the families? Who does all of the shopping?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    Kristin,

    Thanks for the questions. Currently two of the women that do all the shopping and they do it together, going to many different stores and keeping track of where they get the best prices, etc. They also buy spices, foil, powdered milk, etc. Then at the end of each cook day they do an inventory of the supplies to see what we still have left . This allows them to know what we have on hand for next time and helps to figure the total costs for these particular meals. For example, we may only use half a box of powdered milk so they will only add half that expense to the total for the groceries and they know that next month we have a half box of powdered milk on hand.

    We do split the total cost for all the items between the families. Because of this we measure and divide carefully when we are putting the food into each families containers.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the first two questions. Sometimes we don’t keep everything straight. :o) But this is generally how the day works. I start on a recipe, say chicken enchiladas. I make the whole recipe then I go and gather the containers or dishes that each family brought. I know according to the recipe that each family will get 20 chicken enchiladas. So I divide the recipe evenly into each families food containers and LABEL them. The label for my family may look like this: Kimberly Chicken Enchiladas. Then I take the dishes and place them in the area where finished food is stored, each family has their own section. (I have that in one of the pictures) Several of us are doing this and then others are helping or washing dishes, etc.

    At the end of the day we make notes on how the recipes worked, if we changed the recipe while we were making it (like adding the wrong type of cheese) and any adjustments that we would like to make for next time we prepare that recipe. Just generally put our heads together with any thoughts. Then one of the mom’s in our group goes through the recipes and emails everyone with cook day directions. For example, the chicken enchiladas will just need to be thawed and heated, but the beef and spinach bake will need to have some buttermilk biscuit dough made into a crust and then it gets cooks. You get the idea. Sometimes we have separate bags of cheese or spices for topping some of the recipes and these are also noted in our prep directions email.

    I hope that helps a little. If I didn’t really answer your question, please let me know. This has been such a blessing for our family, I would love to help others do this also.

    I love questions and comments. It lets me know that someone is interested in what I’m writing about.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

    [Reply]

  2. Joy
    April 9, 2009 | 12:04 pm

    I LOVE THIS! I should run this by my MIL and SILs. It would be so much fun!

    [Reply]

  3. Penny
    April 10, 2009 | 1:06 pm

    All I can say is WOW! I love this idea, I think cooking is my greatest challenge having a get-together would be fun and meals for 2 months would be a dream!

    I popped over after you left a comment on my blog and I have to say I love your blog! Great ideas.

    [Reply]

  4. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
    April 16, 2009 | 1:21 am

    I’m super impressed! I would love to do this, but I don’t know that I would want to mess around with the logistics of it. Kudos to you and the other families!

    [Reply]

  5. Gretchen
    May 16, 2009 | 2:51 pm

    I do this by myself every month. I have done it with one other person. Actually I am about to do it again with my friend next week. I am very impressed that you get together with 5 families. I love this type of cooking. It works so well. Thanks for sharing. I hope you do more posts on bulk cooking. I think we could learn a lot from you!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Gretchen,
    Don’t be too impressed. I am not the brains behind this. Two of my friends have been doing this for years and they are the ones who plan and shop. I am so thankful for them being willing to include our family.

    I am hoping to do more bulk cooking posts, but time will tell.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

    [Reply]

  6. Kristen
    July 11, 2009 | 2:05 pm

    That is marvelous. I’ve always wanted to try this with a group, but have feared that everyone’s tastes, restrictions, and budgets would be too different to make it worthwhile.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Kristen,
    We have 3-4 regulars in our group and the 1-2 open spaces each time are offered to those who express an interest. Our regulars don’t have any food allergies and are not too picky, so it works for us. As far as budgets go, we are feeding larger than average sized families (8-11 people) for $5-$6 per main dish. Some of the grocery stores give us an additional discount for buying meat, etc. by the case which further lowers our cost.

    You do have to have some basic similarities between the regularly cooking families, but it is nice to have a couple slots open for people to try it out or cook only occasionally. We’ve never had a problem filling the open slots and usually have several families who want to cook waiting for an invitation. It has been a huge blessing to our family.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

    [Reply]

  7. Nikki
    July 11, 2009 | 6:06 pm

    Wow! This is incredible! I have a friend here who does once/month cooking, and she keeps inviting me. Maybe I should join her. This would make our school year run MUCH smoother, I’m sure!

    [Reply]

  8. Sheila
    July 24, 2009 | 3:58 pm

    I’m wondering what you freeze in – I see some containers, but are there certain kinds you use? Do you use a lot of freezer Ziplocs? And/or foil pans?
    (I’ve got a baby due in Nov., and I’m planning to do some cooking/freezing ahead, so my main questions have to do with storage.)

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Sheila,

    I like to freeze as much as possible in freezer Ziplocs since our freezer space is at a premium. Some of the women use reusable plastic containers and then each month we have several meals that will go into a 9 x 13.

    [Reply]

  9. Mama Mirage (Jessica)
    August 13, 2009 | 1:27 pm

    I loved this post! I only have a family of 4 but I would love to start doing this now… I have two toddlers under 3 and it’s really hard to get anything done in a timely manner because they have to “help” and I don’t have an older child to really help. It would be so nice to have some freezer meals for those crazy days. I used to do it just me myself. I’d make double whenever I cooked something freezable and then we’d eat 1 and save 1 for next month. It would be so much more fun to do it with friends on a larger scale! :)

    [Reply]

  10. Young Wife
    August 29, 2009 | 12:37 pm

    What a great idea! I’ll bet you get a lot of great fellowship this way, too.

    [Reply]

  11. Kimberlyb
    September 24, 2009 | 4:07 pm

    Do you do this with only one stove/ oven?

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Kimberlyb – We have a double oven in the kitchen where we cook and the girl that lives across the street cooks with us, so we have access to that one if it is needed.

    [Reply]

  12. Kimberly B
    October 7, 2009 | 3:49 pm

    Ok I have 3 familys doing this together I would love any tip and tricks to get started. we are probably only going to try for a 2 week supply not 2 months. That would NOT be taking on more than I can chew. lol.

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Kimberly B – We usually pick around 20 recipes to cook and each family ends up with two meals of each recipe. I think that I would try for longer than 2 weeks. The hard part is the planning and shopping, the cooking is the easy part.

    We have all the meat cooked, veggies prepped and cheese grated before cook day. Another thing that is a big help is that we divide all the groceries into recipe families. For example all of the non-perishables for our chicken spaghetti will be together, labeled “chicken spaghetti”. (We put the cans etc. in grocery bags and tie them together and label them.) This way if you ended up substituting something when you were grocery shopping, it helps you know which ingredients go with which recipe and it also makes the day run more smoothly.

    I’d love to hear how it goes!

    [Reply]

  13. Rebecca
    February 22, 2011 | 8:57 pm

    Would you recommend doing this with more than 5 families? or is that a bit too much do you think?

    [Reply]

  14. Kara Curfman
    June 24, 2011 | 9:45 pm

    Oh my goodness, your last comment made me laugh because that is what I often say….”Why can’t I remember to take that meal out of the freezer?” I cook with a group of 4 and we cook for about 5 hours and come home with 24 meals each and 4 to be left in our church freezer for families in need. We each bring 6 recipes and make them 4 times. We have 24 different meals. There are no duplicates. I couldn’t imagine actually REALLY cooking ever again. This is the only way to go for our family. We 5 kids, home schooling and foster kids coming and going this keeps us fed and happy no matter what life may bring!

    [Reply]

    Kara Curfman Reply:

    We mainly use large baggies for ours. I am loving your recipes & hearing about how your group cooks. It’s always great to hear different ideas. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  15. Veronica
    April 25, 2012 | 4:35 pm

    what computer program do you use to do the compiling of recipes into shopping lists?

    [Reply]

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