Cooking in quantity: Feed an army (or a teenage boy) for less

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.

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You may find it hard to stay out of the poor house when you're trying to keep a big family or a growing teenager (and his friends) well-fed, but cooking in quantity can save you time and money.

Mom serving teen sons

1Buy in bulk

Buy key ingredients in bulk to save money while cooking in quantity. Packaging costs the manufacturers money—the larger the container, the less total packaging the manufacturer uses, and the less the item will cost. Opt for the giant container of pasta at the grocery outlet, rather than the smaller, individual boxes at your neighborhood store. The key is to choose non-perishable dry goods or frozen foods that you can stock away for later use.

2Stock up on sales

Even if you don't need a vat of canned tomato sauce right now, if there's a fantastic deal and you have the space to store it, make the purchase. Next time you want to make a week's worth of Italian cuisine, you'll be prepared. When you buy in bulk, you're prepared to cook in quantity at a later date.

3Stay flexible

If you normally purchase the smaller package of boneless, skinless chicken breast, but the larger bag of skin-on chicken breast is on sale, allow yourself to be flexible and purchase the larger bag. Sure, it's going to take a little longer to cut the skin off the breasts, and maybe your family can't eat 16 chicken breasts in a single sitting, but you can continue using the chicken in meals all week if your menu planning is right.

4Get back to the basics

Buying a large bag of beans, rice or potatoes costs a lot less than pre-packaged, fully cooked beans, rice or potatoes. They may take a little longer to prepare, but the extra food and the lower cost of these basic items will keep your family full and your grocery bill low.

5Make your menu multitask

Careful menu planning can help you cook large quantities of food that continue paying dividends throughout the week. Take the example of a Thanksgiving turkey: you cook the turkey, eat a traditional meal on Thanksgiving Day, and then continue using the leftovers for turkey sandwiches, soups, pasta and casseroles. You can apply this same type of mentality to almost any meal-time staple. For instance, at the beginning of the week, brown several pounds of ground beef, then use the beef throughout the week for several meals: spaghetti, tacos, taco salad and chili. You can save money by purchasing the larger package of beef, and you save time by only having to prepare the meat once.

6Do double duty

When cooking lasagna, casseroles or stir fry, plan ahead and cook two-times the normal serving size. Generally it won't take much longer to prepare, and you'll end up with double the food for a fraction of the cost. Plan on eating one meal with your family that night, then package the second meal in freezer-safe containers and pop them in the freezer to eat at a later date.

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Laura Williams, M.S.Ed.
Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness, fashion and beauty clients. After working hard to receive her Master’s Degree in Exercise and Sport Science, she now spends her days writing, working out and developing her own website for the "sporty woman" - GirlsGoneSporty.