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:
- You will only be preheating your oven once.
- You will only be washing your baking pans and utensils once.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Baking pans or baking sheets to maximize oven space.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 :-).)
- 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:
- How to Why to Dehydrate (Saving Money) – Part One
- How and Why to Dehydrate (Saving Time and Space) – Part Two
- How and Why to Store Prepared Beans
Do you have any great time saving tips for the kitchen?