I had yesterday off and, while I wanted to relax and watch Deadliest Catch or shop, instead I went to the grocery store and did some serious cooking.

For a while, I’ve been trying to plan which freezer meals I want to cook. In my mind, I thought I would take a giant trip to Sam’s, buy all my ingredients, and cook all my meals over the course of two days, Once a Month Mom style.

But, I remembered that I’m supposed to take meals to two families who recently had babies. Since one of the dishes (easy lasagna) I planned on freezing for myself makes 2 casseroles per recipe, I thought I would just double the recipe and have 4 casseroles, 2 for me and 2 to share. I also thought I would cook some chicken and brown rice for me to take to work this week for lunches.

Let me tell you, this experience made me so, so glad I didn’t do a giant cooking weekend.

It wasn’t hard to get the timing of everything down, especially since I’ve made this several times before, and rice and chicken are both pretty easy and only require occasional checking, but after making 4 casseroles, I was beat!

The experience was a good one though, especially since I’m one step closer to having the meals I wanted frozen and ready, and since I have lunches for the rest of the week and into next prepped and ready to go. I did learn a few things I thought would be helpful for anyone else who tries batch cooking soon:

1. Always start with an empty dishwasher. I emptied mine right before I started cooking, filled it up and ran it again before we fixed dinner. This made life a lot easier for me since I could rinse things off quickly and pop them in the dishwasher instead of having a sink full of dirty dishes.

2. Plan to cook like things at the same time. One of the easiest things I did yesterday was brown four pounds of ground beef. It had the space to brown another pound or two in the same pan, and could have used part of the browned meat to make another dish.

3. Have an empty (ish) trash can. Maybe its just me, but I make a lot of trash when I cook, and starting with a full trash can is just bad news and a whole lot of extra trouble for me.

4. Be familiar with what you’re cooking. This probably isn’t a requirement, but I found that having already cooking the lasagna several times and being very familiar with the recipe really helped speed the process up. I knew what I was doing, didn’t have to second guess myself, and was able to multi-task more efficiently since I didn’t have to pause and check what I needed to do next.

5. Don’t take on too much at once. Part of my problem was that I was also trying to clean and organize my kitchen pantry while I was cooking. This meant that not only was my full attention not on my cooking, but also that my counter space was more limited because some of my things from that cabinet were spread out on it.

6. Plan lunch breaks. I didn’t eat lunch until 2pm because I was never in a place with my cooking that was a good pausing point. No food makes me cranky and tired, which didn’t help my being exhausted from being on my feet all day!

Have you ever tried batch cooking? I’m definitely doing this again, but I wonder ifyou have any pointers for me!