My ‘Big Cook’ Weekend

This past weekend my sister-in-law and I went to her aunt’s house for our first Big Cook. If you’re not familiar, Big Cooking is preparing multiple meals at once for your freezer so you just have to throw it in the oven or slow cooker and supper is done! Sounds pretty awesome to this momma who is always looking to invent a few hours every day!

Given that this was our first time doing a Big Cook, we decided on 10 recipes to try; preparing two meals of each recipe, giving each of us 20 total meals. Since both my sister-in-law and I have households of two adults and each recipe recommends a serving of 4-6 adults, we further reduced each meal (except one casserole) by two, giving us a meal total of 38 each, plus her aunt’s 20 meaning we prepped 96 meals in one day! Pretty awesome right?

We made:

  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs
  • Tatertot Casserole
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Amazing Chicken
  • Cranberry Chicken
  • Honey Sesame Tenderloin
  • BBQ Pork
  • Friendship Soup
  • Bruschetta Chicken
  • California Chicken

All this required a multitude of ingredients including:

  • 60lbs of boneless/skinless chicken
  • 20lbs of lean ground beef
  • 24lbs of pork (tenderloin/roast)
  • 24 cups of cheese
  • 24 cloves of garlic (minimum, because we all love a little extra garlic!)

When we started adding up everything we needed I began panicking at what we were going to have to spend, 60lbs of chicken?! It ended up working out pretty amazing though.

For all the ingredients needed, everything listed, plus probably close to 100 other items from soup stock to canned tomatoes to green peppers, we spent a grand total of $461.09

$461.09 total=

  • $153.70/per person or…
  • $15.37/ recipe or…
  • $7.68/meal (4-6ppl) or…
  • $1.53/serving (5 person average)

$1.53/serving for fresh veggies, lean meat and no ”cooking”!

Planning was key in saving money.

We planned for about a month. Decided on the recipes and shopped the sales for the 3-4 weeks leading up to it. Just as I would for any normal meal plan. Costco came though for items we needed a lot of (tomato paste, chicken broth for example) but wasn’t great for meat prices per kg price. We ended up buying the chicken and beef from a local butcher and it was a beautiful product. He sold it to us for his sale price given the volume of the order. We got the chicken for $3.77/lb and lean ground beef for $2.49/lb. Bulk Barn was also a huge resource for all spices/herbs/powdered stocks.

It was a LONG day (8hrs of prepping the meals) but so worth it. I have 38 yummy, healthy meals in my freezer that I can throw in either my crock-pot for 6-8hrs on low or cook in my oven for 1-2 hours if I’m home.

Tuesday being my birthday, I certainly wasn’t cooking, so took the opportunity to try one of the recipes. We ate the sweet and sour meatballs and they were delicious! Even with me halving the recipe, my sister, husband and I ate and were stuffed! This full recipe could easily serve 6-8 average adults (they were healthy sized portions).

It was a great experience and we’re already planning our next one for the new year!

Have you ever done a Big Cook? Will you try now that I’ve incited you with no ”cooking” and budget friendliness?


Photo Source




  1. I have never done it but I think it’s a great idea. I really love when I have a dinner somewhat premade or when I use the crock pot. It makes life so much easier after I have worked my ass off all day!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..“Best of Craigslist” – November 2012 EditionMy Profile

  2. It sounds awesome. At best I prepare one very big recipe and freeze 12 portions of it. A deep freezer is on my to-buy list, I want to buy a sheep or a quarter of a cow and start big cooking!
    Pauline recently posted..Earn money while traveling? (part 2)My Profile

    • Haha I love that you immediately want to buy an ENTIRE animal to cook with! A family I know bought a cow, had it butchered into different cuts and have enough beef for like 2 years.

  3. My wife has been invited to a few of these by friends but has never been able to make it. She’ll do a bit of it on her own and make meals for a month or so at a time to freeze. But, I imagine the cost savings would be greater by doing in as a group.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..October Blog Goals UpdateMy Profile

  4. Wow this sounds great! I’m going to go send my sister a message right now and see if she’s interested in doing this!
    Jordann @ My Alternate Life recently posted..iPad Mini and $100 Cash Giveaway!My Profile

    • It’s amazing, and the authors of the Big Cook cook books are Canadian! If you do do it, let me know b/c I can tell you exactly what items you need (the size freezer bags etc). Totally worth it, we borrowed the 2 cookbooks (Big cook 1 and 2) from the library.

  5. I don’t know if I could ever handle a big cook since I live alone now, but I LOVE this concept and think you executed it masterfully. Way to go Cat!
    L Bee and the Money Tree recently posted..Broken Heart, Broken Wallet Part IIMy Profile

  6. I really need to do this! We have done a few things, like my spouse (with a LOT of assistance from me) made some lasagnas to freeze a month or two back. The problem with them is they need to thaw forever before you can eat them. Given that we have been really busy as of late, we’ve been meaning to do this and really should get around to it. I even have some containers that my mom gave me. Whenever my parents come to visit, my mom ends up freezing a few meals for us 🙂
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..Gift Giveaway: iPad Mini and Cash!My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      Yeah for moms! We used freezer bags except for the casserole. They do take time to thaw but take it out the night before and you’re good to go!

  7. Oh wow, I’ve never done a “big cook”, but I sure wish I had freezer space to try one.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Should You Tell a Friend They Make Bad Financial Decisions?My Profile

  8. I have always been put off this in the past as it seemed to be cooked, frozen,, defrosted then re-heated which my family are not keen on. I have just clicked though to the site though and it looks great. Thank you very much!
    lizzie recently posted..Feeling craftyMy Profile

  9. I’ve never done one, but what an awesome idea! I keep swearing one day I’ll use my crock pot but there it sits…
    Budget & the Beach recently posted..Question for Readers: Do I take the leap?My Profile

  10. Holy cow! 2 questions immediately pop to mind.

    1 – how big is your freezer???
    2 – how many casserole dishes and tupperwares do you own???

    WOW. Just WOW.
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..IRS Double Standard – How Much Is Hair Worth?My Profile

  11. freezer cooking is so wonderful. Now that I’ve done it I’ll never go back. I kinda wonder what the drama was with the big cook ladies. The first book had three friends, and the 2nd book only 2. Cooking with friends should bring you together, not tear you apart!
    Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom recently posted..The Big CookMy Profile

  12. Ooh, I just did this same thing this weekend. I made 23 meals. I put the serving size our family would eat into containers and froze those. The night before, we pull out what we want and put it in the fridge. It’s ready to heat up at dinner the next day. I need to post about my big cook. I used to be such a non-cooker, but it’s really turning around. I may do this every month. No temptation to grab fast food or go out. Thanks for sharing. I’d love to see the recipe for Friendship soup or Amazing chicken.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..How To Have a Cheap European HolidayMy Profile

  13. I need to do something like this! i just have no patience and would eat everything. 🙂
    Michelle recently posted..Home Security On a Budget: 4 Alternative Methods of ProtectionMy Profile

  14. i have always wanted to do one of these.. i have a co-worker that is always bringing in awesome lunches with tons of healthy veggies, and using a service like this is a key to making that happen..

    it kind of feels like we have a few go-to dishes that we stick with in our rotation, and i think that places like ‘my big cook’, really encourage you to try new things and spice it up

    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..Find Yourself Bored and Broke? Head OnlineMy Profile

  15. That’s seriously awesome! I’ve never thought of doing a communal giant cooking fest. Perhaps another twist would be for each couple/family to prepare a ton of one or two dishes, and then everyone swap servings?
    CF recently posted..Considering a short term loanMy Profile

    • That would work too, the advantage to prepping everything together though is that the cost of all ingredients was shared. Some dishes may have been more expensive than others but divided 3 ways was even.

  16. justin@thefrugalpath says:

    Wow that’s pretty good. You can’t even get unhealthy frozen foods for $1.53 a serving. And if you cook with a big group of people it probably doesn’t feel as like you’re slaving over a stove.
    justin@thefrugalpath recently posted..Friday’s Fork in the Path: Posts that Kept me on Track 11/9/12My Profile

    • Well you don’t actually cook anything (except some ground beef), it’s meal prep. You prep the meals then cook them when you want them, it was great!

  17. This is a great idea, I am looking forward to trying this when I move out on my own in a few months ( I currently live with fam.) Last year when I lived alone in a different city, my older sister came to visit and she did something similar, she cook and froze the meals, I lived alone at the time and would have friends come over to my house because they knew there was food in the freezer. She did this in october and I was eating the food till december when I had help with eating the food in form of my kid sister who came to spend her vacation with me. It really helped because when I was at work, I didn’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner or what she will eat for lunch, she just had to have her pick of what was frozen in the freezer. But am definitely going to try this, it would save me time and money hopefully.


  1. […] Plunged in debt – My big cook weekend […]

  2. […] at Plunged in Debt goes over the financial benefits of making many meals at once. I definitely want to try […]

  3. […] of having a cooking marathon one day a month from Mandy at  Money Master Mom and Catherine at Plunged in Debt. The idea is to cook like a fiend for one day so that you can take a cooking vacation for a few […]

  4. […] 21, 2012 by Catherine I received a lot of interest in Big Cooks/freezer cooking after my post few weeks ago, including people wanting recipes and info about the cookbook(s) themselves. Well […]

  5. […] a cooked meal. Bonus, less time cleaning up, less pot/pan usage. Go a step further and partake in a Big Cook freeing up even more […]

  6. […] how hubby and I manage to eat on a $300.00/month budget through meal planning and partaking in Big Cooks but today I will share some other ways to help cuts food costs for your […]

  7. […] without going bad.  A fantastic option would be to follow the lead of Plunged in Debt, who did a months worth of freezer meals in one day with her sister!  One of their best tips: Take the Big Cook Cookbook out from the […]

  8. […] in Debt presents a great idea – a big cooking bonanza where you make a massive amount of food using a few recipes with the idea of being able to stick […]

  9. […] a ”big cook” can be hugely convenient and save a lot of time (especially on maternity […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge