September 24, 2020

Easy Cooking Hacks

I used to do a lot of batch cooking back in the days when I had three children at home, had to work full time, and had to cook for and take care of my parents as well. I would often do a cook and freeze day once a month to have lots of meals set and ready to go all month long.

I thought I'd put this out here because batch cooking is not only great for busy families, but for anyone! Seriously, the fewer you cook for the more variety of meals you can make. Batch cooking can really be great for people who just don't enjoy cooking too. It saves so much time and effort - less shopping, planning, food prep, clean up, and cooking time!

Let's start with slow cookers, I don't have an Instant Pot but I don't see why it couldn't be used in place of the slow cooker, and let's talk beef for today. (I feel a series of posts coming on lol)

Most slow cooker recipes for beef use a cut like chuck roast. My choice is London broil. It might cost a little more per pound but there is almost zero waste on London broil, where chuck roast is usually a ton of fat and gristle that has to be discarded after cooking. I think the London broil comes out cheaper in the end and a lot it's less work when it comes to the shredding too.

I cut a London broil into large cubes, add a cup of beef broth, and season with my go to Montreal Steak seasoning. I don't bother with searing, but you can if you prefer. Cook on low for 8 hours. (If cooking for a family, 2-3 London broils could easily fit in the slow cooker to be cooked at the same time). One makes plenty of meals for us since I'm only cooking for two, and I don't like to leave it sitting around in the freezer for too long.

Photo from Pinterest

Once cooked, shred with two forks, and put back in the slow cooker for about 15 minutes to absorb some of the juices. Next, remove from slow cooker and divide into meal portions depending on how many you are serving for each meal. 

Keep out what you want to use right away and freeze the rest of the portions for some quick and easy meals. Let cool first and then store flat in freezer bags to save freezer space, be sure to label them too.

The first night I usually serve it over egg noodles with a quick steamed green veggie on the side - thicken sauce for gravy (optional) or make French dip sandwiches. Both are basically using it as is. You could use all portions just for these two easy meals or add some extras to make totally different meals.

Here are a few ways I have used the portions from the freezer in the past...

Korean Beef (In place of ground beef for lettuce wraps, over rice or rice noodles)
BBQ beef sandwiches (Just add BBQ sauce and buns)
Beef, egg, and cheese breakfast tacos
Steak and veggie quiche (great way to use up leftover veggies too)
Shredded Beef Tacos (Add a teaspoon of salsa per serving and fry until meat is hot and starts to crisp. Your choice of toppings. I like mine on the authentic side with crumbled Caso Freso, diced onion, jalapeno and cilantro)

All super easy and dinner will be done in a flash!

59 comments:

  1. Ooh, that sounds delicious! I like the fact that, once cooked, you can use the meat in so many different dishes. Thank you for posting this and I look forward to others like this. :)

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    1. Thanks Bless, batch cooking really makes cooking a breeze! :)

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  2. This is a great idea. Now that I live alone I absolutely hate cooking. I like something that I can eat for a couple of days then freeze the rest for another time.

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    1. I thought of you when I was writing this. With batch cooking it doesn't take any longer to make a meal than it does to make yourself a sandwich. And there are so many different meals you can make from one batch cooking session!

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  3. Hello,

    I like using my slow cooker too. Your tip and meal ideas sound great. I like having some meals ready to go. Have a great day and a happy weekend!

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    1. Thanks Eileen! I didn't used to like using the slow cooker, flavors always tasted watered down to me, but using this method the extras are added after slow cooking so everything has full flavor. Now I love it using it this way :)

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  4. I don't mind cooking. In fact, I enjoy it. But this idea (to save time preparing a meal) is terrific. Great menu ideas too.

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    1. Thanks Anni! I really enjoy cooking too, this just makes it quick and I also like that other ingredients and seasonings are added after the slow cooking. I think most slow cooker recipes normally lose a lot of flavor.

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  5. I am still considering whether to get a new slow cooker. My old slow cooker is out. Love the way you save time.

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    1. Thanks Nancy! Looks like the Instant Pot is the way to go these days, seems it's taken the place of slow cookers. I've yet to get one but it sure seems like a fantastic time saver!

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  6. I feel like every other meal I make these days is batch cooking as I have so many leftovers that I either save for lunches, or freeze for future meals. We do not do much beef other than an occasional steak and hamburger, but I like th eidea of these meals.

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    1. It does make things easier and saves money in the long run too. I plan to do another post or two with ideas for chicken and pork too sometime soon :)

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  7. When Danny cooks meals for us, he always makes a dish for my mother, which we freeze, and take to her when we have enough of them collected. It makes things so much easier on her.
    Blessings, Martha!

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    1. That's so nice of you and Danny to do that. That's what I used to do for my parents too. It's always nice to have extras ready to go whether for ourselves or to help someone else. These days it comes in handy for me to help the boys out when they have busy weeks and no time to meal prep too.

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  8. I love my slow cooker and don't have an insta pot either. Slow cooking tenderizes the beef and it just seems to fall apart. Thanks for alll the good ideas.

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    1. I'm thinking about getting an Instant Pot, how about you? Everyone really seems to love them.

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  9. We do this with chicken and have it for burritos when the family comes over and then we divide what is left between them and us and use it for salads and whatnot. Usually do 5 pounds of chicken breasts in the crockpot.

    great tips Martha!

    betty

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    1. Thanks Betty, this is exactly the same idea. I'll probably do a couple more posts with batch cooking recipe ideas for chicken and pork too :)

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  10. This sounds wonderful! Thank you for the tip about London Broil also. Will definitely put these on my must make folder. Thanks Martha :)

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    1. So glad Denise! Definitely go for the London broil, works perfectly! :)

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  11. I recently got given a slow cooker and have no idea how to use it! I must start learning! Have a great day, enjoy your food! Hugs, Valerie

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    1. It's so easy Valerie! If you eat beef you can start with some of the ideas here, if not I'll be doing more posts with ideas for chicken and pork too :)

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  12. I think I am going to enjoy this series. I might not do them, simply because I do not have the freezer space. But it makes for interesting reading.

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    1. The best way to save the freezer space is to store in Ziplock bags and freeze them flat. I have just one freezer shelf for these kind of meals, it will hold about 30 bags when frozen flat :)

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  13. Great ideas. Looks and sounds delicious.

    I did the same when I was working. Cooked one weekend and froze meals for a few weeks. First one home got everything ready.

    Now when my husband and I are gone on bike, we come home to meals I have prepped and frozen ahead of time too. So much easier than having to cook, especially when we are so hungry after cycling.

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    1. Thanks Marie! I thought about you when I was writing this since I know you do freezer meals too. It definitely makes things a lot easier. Happy cycling :)

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  14. I have a couple of London broils in the freezer. I need to dig them out and use this slow cooker method.

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    1. The London broil is so perfect for slow cooked meals, I wish I would have discovered it sooner, I always hated how much waste there was on chuck roasts. I hope you'll try some of the recipes too :)

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  15. Brilliant to cook enough, to have meals ahead, in the freezer!!!!!!!!!!!!

    🍁✨🍂✨🌼✨🍂✨🍁

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  16. Yumm, yumm, yumm...now I am hungry.
    My hubby is definitely a beef kind of guy.
    I use our crock pot all the time and have an Instapot too.
    They truly make my next to stellar cooking habits so much easier.
    Sue

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    1. what I meant was my NOT so stellar cooking ....haha
      Sue

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    2. Too funny Sue! Do you have a preference between the two? Does the Instapot tenderize the meat like the slow cooker does or does it turn out more like it would be from the oven?

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  17. Several of these recipes look so good, especially the Italian Sandwiches and the stroganoff. But I don't have a slow cooker or an instant pot. I must be the only person on earth who does not!

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    1. Lots still don't have Instant pots but I think you might be the first I've ever know not to have a slow cooker! Do you just not like food cooked in the slow cooker or just never had one?

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  18. You are amazing, and must be so organized! Great ideas, and you inspire me!

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    1. Thanks Rosealea, that's so sweet of you to say! Being organized is probably high on my list of strengths. No better compliment than hearing that I inspired you! :)

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  19. I think my crockpot is still the best for one-pot meals. I don't recall ever having tasted London broil -- but yours is a good argument. Aside: Reading the above comments? We've done a roast once in the InstantPot and Tom really enjoyed ... me not so much. I think the 'low and slow' method is the way to go. If you've got the time, that is.

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    1. Thanks Myra, that's great to know! London broil is super lean, has great flavor but is a very tough cut. If cooked like a steak it has to be med rare and sliced paper thin to be able to chew it. It comes out fantastic in the slow cooker though. Give it a try :)

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  20. Great idea and right up my alley..Thanks

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    1. Thanks, and thank you for visiting today :)

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    1. Anytime Christine. Have a great weekend :)

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  22. Fun ideas. I used my crockpot a lot in the winter and spring and took a hiatus for the summer. I got it out again this week and cooked chicken and beans and it was delicious. Four meals all done and very little prep. I'm planning to do a different combination every week and will look for interesting spices.

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    1. Slow cookers can really be great for meal prep and cook and freeze. My favorite is finding ways to cook once and make a bunch of different meals, just take a little creativity :)

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  23. It felt like a million years since I'd cooked like this, but I started doing it again in March just to avoid leaving the house! I do slow cooker and insta pot both depending on the recipe, but this style works great for both.

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    1. Exactly the same thing here Tamy! I'd really like to hear your opinions on the differences between the Instapot and the slow cooker since I don't have an Instapot yet.

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  24. Thanks for the tips on batch cooking, Martha, like you I use London Broil instead of chuck,, and the slow cooker makes it so much more tender. Sometimes my grocer will run them on sale, I stock up!
    The recipes sound wonderful too!
    Sue

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    1. Thanks Sue! London broil is one of the things my grocery store does BOGO every few months, I always stock up too, can't beat that! Enjoy the weekend :)

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  25. Really good tips. I don't batch cook because my daughter and I take turns cooking. But we both like to cook.

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    1. Thanks Mary! I love to cook to so I don't batch cook like I used to, but I still like having something quick and easy on hand for busy days (like we have those anymore lol) or days I just don't want to cook. Have a great weekend :)

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  26. I need to do this maybe when things calm down around here! :)

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    1. It definitely helps in busy times Connie. I hope you will enjoy some of the recipes :)

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  27. That sounds very good. A great tip on using the London Broil for it, too. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Jeanie, the London Broil works so much better than chuck roast!

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