Save Time in the Kitchen – Baking in Bulk

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Saving Time by Baking in Bulk, Freezer Cooking

One of the hardest things about trying to eat a more whole foods diet is that you end up spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

You get all excited about baking a special homemade treat for your family, only to find that after you have spent several hours cooking and cleaning up the kitchen, the treats are demolished and you have to start all over again!  Been there?

So I am always on the lookout for ways to save time in the kitchen.

Today’s tip is:  BAKE IN BULK.

Baking in bulk saves time because you just get ingredients out once and you only have one cleanup time.  Yippee!!  You also will save money, because:

  1. You will only be preheating your oven once.
  2. You will only be washing your baking pans and utensils once.

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. Baking pans or baking sheets to maximize oven space.
  2. Storage bags or containers. I use plastic bags from Country Life Natural Foods and secure them with Twixit Clips.  There are similar bread bags available through Amazon, but I have not tested them.

HOW TO:

  1. Decide how many batches you will make.  I have found that for most standard ovens, you can fit 8 recipes of any bar shaped baked good in your oven, so this is a good place to start.  If you are making muffins, then the most you can fit in the oven is most likely 4 dozen at once.  If you are making cookies, you can make more or less, but 8 recipes works great and you just rotate cookie sheets in and out as usual until your batter is finished.  You will, however, need to consider how big your mixing bowl is and how you will be mixing your batter.  You will need a really big bowl to handle 8 batches, so you may want to try to start with an see how it goes.  Another good idea is to mix up 4 batches, bake them, and then do another 4 before cleaning up.
  2. Take the baking pans that you have and determine a layout that maximizes space. Most recipes are made for 8×8 square pans or 9×13 pans.  The measurements aren’t exact, but a 9×13 pan is approximately twice the size of an 8×8 pan, so if you have 2 9×13 pans and 4 8×8 pans, then you can make 8 recipes of any bar or cake type baked good easily.  Just put, for example, 1 9×13 and 2 8×8 pans (one in front of the other) on the top rack of your oven and do the same on the bottom.
  3. Multiply the ingredients in your recipe by the number of batches that you are going to make.  I find it easiest to calculate and pencil in the new measurements prior to baking so you can move quickly through your recipe without stopping to calculate.  You will also have it ready for future reference (and the pencil is just in case you make a mistake :-).

Now, here are some helpful tips that I have acquired over the years:

  • Measuring tips.  Here is where you get to use the math that you learned in school in everyday life.  If you don’t have the exact pan assortment that I mentioned above, you can substitute other pans, but you will need to spend a bit of time calculating the area of the pans and working with the recipe that you have.  Even if you have the pans mentioned, your recipe might be made for an 11×7 pan or a cake pan, so here is where the math comes in.  You mama said you would need math when you grew up :-)!

To find the area of a square or rectangle pan, just multiply one side by the other.  The area of a round pan is 3.14 (remember “pi”) x the radius (half of the measurement straight across the pan) squared.  Thus, a 9″ round pan’s area would be 3.14 x 4.5 x 4.5, or about 63.5″.

You can also be creative and “layer” pans with baking stones or cookie sheets to maximize space and save even more time. (Be careful with this.  Some baked goods have too much oil or are too runny to do this and will either end up morphing into one giant baked good – or worse yet, they can slide off the sheet and onto the bottom of the oven.  This has – er – happened to at least one person I know of :-).)

Baking stones and Chantal stoneware in oven

  • Cool baked goods completely before freezing to prevent them from forming ice crystals.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.  Your pan areas may not be perfect and muffin-baking gourmands state that one must make only 1-2 batches at a time for over-mixing creates a more final product.  However, I have come to learn that in the world of real food and real life, I can’t always have the ideal that I wish for.  For me, saving time and money almost always trumps technique.

Viola!  You now have another way to save time and money in the kitchen!

Looking for more ways to save time and money in the kitchen?  Check out my posts on:

Do you have any great time saving tips for the kitchen?

Linked to Monday Mania, Domestically Diving Homemaking, Organizing Mission Monday, and Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.
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  1. I have been thinking about this also since we discussed it yesterday. My Kitchen Aid mixer is a 5.5 qt. and although I love it, there are limits as to how much I can increase a recipe. I was thinking I could measure out several recipes worth in seperate bowls then process them seperately.

    Also have you used those freestanding oven racks? I wonder if that would get you more space. My understanding is that you need space around your pans for the air to circulate to get adequate and even heating.

    I love thinking of ways to be productive and efficient!

    • I think your thoughts measuring out several bowls’ worth is great. You can also just mix by hand, which is what I do frequently.

      I have never used those racks….that’s a great idea. You want the air circulating. Try putting your pans in the oven to see what kind of space you have around them. I have even “layered” a 9×13 pan with a baking stone slanted on top of it on both racks so that I could bake a lot at once. There is plenty of air around the sheets still and the baking didn’t seem to be affected at all.

  2. hmmm, you’ve got me thinking now. We’ll see how big my batch of almond flour/cream cheese brownies I go for tomorrow!

  3. Oh! I am inspired. The thought of going out and buying natural, good-for-you stuff intimidates me- I’m scared of the price, and you’re right, scared of the amount of time it will take. But I’m going to keep reading you and maybe I will get brave enough to give it a shot. I am ordering organic grass-fed beef for next year, you would be proud ;)

    • I still get intimidated by price, time, mess – everyday almost! I’d love to help anyway that I can. Let me know if you have any other questions / concerns. And I still haven’t purchased a 1/4 cow yet, so you are ahead of me on that one! :-)

  4. I have not baked in bulk, but I mix up cookie dough and freeze dough balls. When we want a treat, I just bake a few at a time. I’ve learned over the years that my husband and I can’t be trusted when I bake a whole batch at one time.

    Thanks for linking up to Kitchen Economics. I hope to see you again this Wednesday.

  5. Great information. Thank you for sharing and linking up to Domestically Divine.

    Blessings,

    Jasmine

  6. Thanks for the info. I didn’t know you could stack things in the oven. Is it because they are stones that they won’t bake things unevenly?
    Thanks for linking this to my Organizing Mission link party!

    • I haven’t had a problem. They aren’t really “stacked” – just partially stacked. I think my oven is a bit on the large size and since one pan is rectangle and the other is a circle, the air still flows pretty well. That being said, I am not a “baking perfectionist.” I am willing to have things not baked perfectly in order to save time. Now, with my 2-tier convection oven, I do have a problem with having to switch the top and bottom items in order to have the items on top not burn on the top. Of course the stones help as well! Let me know how it works for you. I sure need a lot of help organizing!

  7. I have similar clips from IKEA….cheaper, I think. Great post!

  8. I just discovered your blog through frugallysustainable.com. And I am hooked. Our family is also trying to move to eating whole foods. I am going through the archives and finding a ton of information. Thanks for sharing your recipes, tips and general information. I especially liked how to make chocolate chips. That’s a great way to use coconut oil. Thank you

  9. I was just looking at the bags you suggest from Country Life Natural Foods. What size do you suggest for freezing baked goods?

  10. Yes! There are only 3 people in my family, but when we make quick breads we always make 4 loaves because that’s how many pans we have. We store the extras in the refrigerator until we’re ready for them, and sometimes we freeze one to enjoy much later.

    When making a large batch of batter that has baking powder in it, I find it’s best to add the baking powder last, sprinkling it over the top surface and then mixing it in. That way I get all the other ingredients thoroughly combined (which can be difficult in a big batch!) without over-mixing bursting the bubbles created by the baking powder.

  11. Hi! I hope you will see this question. Can you make ahead and freeze baked goods that have alternative flours in them like coconut flour, rice flour, almond flour, etc? Do they freeze well? Thanks!

    • I have never had a problem freezing them. Gluten free goods do better made in smaller sizes, however.

      • Thanks for replying!! So what you are saying is they freeze fine, but do better if they are made in small batches? So as long as I make a small batch, I can freeze it? In other words, don’t double the recipe before you freeze? Thanks! I love your blog!