Small Batch Cooking Made Easy
Updated: Jul 31, 2019
For most of my married life I have been cooking for four and often for more than that. I was also taught well by my Italian mother how to cook for large groups and for always having “enough” if someone happened to drop by. The biggest adjustment I have had in my 2-person household has been “downsizing” my cooking habits. If I cooked like I was used to, there were always leftovers, and they would soon overwhelm my fridge only to be tossed. Since I have been retired, I have revamped my meal planning for our week-to-week meals. I still love the holidays and can easily cook for 10, 12, 20 or for a party of 40, but here are my secrets for downsizing your meal prep:
Freeze in Singles or Doubles: I still buy in quantity to save on costs but freeze in smaller portions. This job is usually left to my husband, who has mastered the art of buying a whole filet of beef or boneless pork on sale and then cutting them into one-inch steaks. For us he packs them in twos, but they can easily be packed individually. He does this with all cuts of meat and poultry, and it makes dinner prep easy. If we happen to have company, we just take out more than one pack.
Use a Smaller Size Slow Cooker: After many months using my large 6 quart slow cooker with smaller quantities, I searched Amazon for another option. Amazon does indeed sell smaller versions. We bought a 1 ½ size Crock Pot for less than $15. Follow the link to purchase your own. Extra Hint: It is great for hot dips or sauces at parties.
Cook in Batches & Store in Portions: I have some recipes that I just love and I still cook in large batches. My Turkey Chili is one of our favorites, so I cook it up on a Sunday afternoon, eat for dinner and then pack away the rest in two-serving size containers. You can use plastic containers, but I find glass containers more versatile as you can safely store, freeze, cook and microwave (not with lids) and they last for years. I also like this set from Amazon because they are sold in 8 identical sizes. 8-Pack Glass Food Storage.
Recipe App: I have used RecipeBook for years. It is only available for IPad, Apple Watch and IPhone at $.99, but there are many other Apps that Store and Organize your recipes. The best part about RecipeBook is that it automatically changes a recipe for example 4 to half or multiplied. It then stores a new version for the smaller or larger quantity. You can also print or share your recipes and build a printable shopping list (you can select the items that you need).
Use an Electric Pressure Cooker: I still use my 6-quart Instant Pot to cook 2-portions of meat and to cook all types of rice. There are smaller versions, but I have found that it still makes fork tender pork chops for two in less than ½ hour. I make large batches of rice to freeze for adding to recipes later and I scale down my Rice Pudding recipe for a delicious dessert.
Follow the links below for some of my favorite recipes.
Share your secrets for small batch cooking in the comments section.