Cooking in Bulk

Cooking in Bulk

familycookingby Cathe Olson

Between work, driving kids to activities, and running errands, it can be hard to find the time to cook a homemade meal from scratch every day. If you set aside time on the weekends to do some cooking in bulk, you will have food prepared for the busy week ahead. Cooking in bulk is also a great idea when you’re expecting a baby. Stock up your freezer before the baby comes so you’ll have lots of nutritious, homemade food during that demanding first month with a newborn. 

Here are some foods that can be prepared in large quantities and frozen. 

Beans and Grains
Beans (black, pinto, kidney, navy, etc.) and grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa, barley) store very well in the freezer and are great to have on hand to make burritos and stirfries or add to soups and stews. Store them in small containers, e.g. two to four-cup sizes, or the size you need for one meal. 

Soups and Stews
Use your largest pot to make a big batch of soup (e.g., split-pea, black bean, etc.) or stew (chili, bean and veggie, etc.) and freeze in meal size containers, and some individual sizes too for a quick single meal. 

Muffins and Cookies
Make a double or triple batch of muffins or healthy cookies. They are perfect to pop into a lunch box, or for a snack or dessert at home. 

Pancakes, Waffles, and French Toast (vegan of course)
We love to have a leisurely breakfast on the weekends but during the week breakfast can be hectic. Double or triple your recipe of pancakes, waffles, or French toast on the weekends and freeze the extras. They can be popped in the toaster for an easy breakfast or snack, and my kids love them in their lunch box with some fresh fruit and soy yogurt. 

Following are recipes that can be made ahead and frozen: 

Squash and White Bean Soup
This recipe can be double or triple if desired. 

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 butternut, kabucha, or hubbard squash, peeled and cut into cubes (about 7 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon tahini
1 (15-ounce can) or 2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or watercress
Sea salt and black pepper to taste 

In large soup pot over medium-low heat, add onion and oil. Stir gently to spread and then cook about 15 minutes without stirring until onions are brown and caramelized. Stir in garlic. Add water or stock and squash. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes until squash is tender. Puree squash mixture in blender or food processor with spices, miso, and tahini. Add water if soup is too thick. Return to pot and stir in beans and parsley or watercress over low heat. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Garnish with roasted pumpkin or squash seeds if desired. 

Makes 6 servings 


Black Bean and Corn Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
3 (15-ounce) cans or 5 cups cooked black beans
2 large carrots, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt to taste
2 cups corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in soup pot. Stir in onion. Sauté 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, jalapenos, and cumin. Sauté 5 minutes. Stir in stock, water, beans, carrots, and oregano. Simmer covered 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender. Puree soup in blender or food processor. You will have to do this in several batches or use an immersion blender and puree right in the pot. Return to blended soup to the pot. Season with sea salt to taste. Stir in corn and cilantro. Heat to desired temperature. 

Makes 8 servings 


Pumpkin Seed Pesto Ravioli
Using prepared wonton wrappers (available in the deli section of most markets) makes it easy to make ravioli. If you get your family to help wrap up the raviolis, it won’t take any time at all. 

1 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 cup packed parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon miso
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 ounces firm tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (50-piece) package egg-free round or square wonton/dumpling wrappers 

Mince pumpkin seeds, parsley, and garlic together in food processor with metal blade. Add miso, sea salt and tofu, and process until mixed. While processor is running, drizzle oil through the top. 

Flour a tray or board for prepared ravioli, and flour a small work surface for their preparation. Place a cup of water next to your work station. Form ravioli as follows: Place a wrapper on floured work surface and put about 1 teaspoon of pesto filling in center. Dip finger in water and wet edges of wrapper. Fold wrapper over diagonally to form half-moon (round wraps) or triangle (square wraps). Press to seal. Place ravioli on floured tray or board. Continue with remaining wraps and filling. Ravioli can be frozen at this point (see freezing instructions). 

When ready to serve, drop ravioli into a large pot of boiling water. Cook 2 to 4 minutes, or until they float to the top. Remove to serving platter with slotted spoon. If cooking all the ravioli at once, do it in several batches. 

You can serve the ravioli with traditional marinara sauce; however, I prefer it tossed with just olive oil, salt, and pepper (and maybe a little nondairy Parmesan cheese) so I can taste the delicious flavor of the pesto. 

Makes 8 servings 

Freezing Instructions: Place uncooked ravioli on a tray or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place tray in freezer for several hours, or until ravioli are frozen. Transfer ravioli to freezer container or bag. Cook as directed above; however, increase cooking time by a couple of minutes. Do not thaw before cooking. 

Leftover cooked ravioli and sauce can be frozen in individual-size containers. To reheat, warm in pan or microwave until heated through. 


Cranberry-Orange Muffins
These tangy, eggless muffins are made with flaxseeds which supply omega-3 essential fatty acids. 

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
3 tablespoons honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons flaxseeds, ground

Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil muffin tins. Place juice, grated orange peel, sweetener, and cranberries in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until steam begins to rise. Remove from heat. Stir in oil. 

In separate bowl, sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt together. Stir in ground flaxseeds. Mix cranberry mixture into flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out dry. 

Makes 1 dozen 
Note: Use a coffee grinder, seed grinder, or blender to grind the flaxseeds. 

Cathe Olson

Author: Cathe Olson

Cathe Olson is the author of the new nondairy ice cream cookbook: Lick It! Cream Dreamy Vegan Ice Cream Your Mouth Will Love, as well as Simply Natural Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook. Visit Cathe’s blog at http://catheolson.blogspot.com.

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