Don't be afraid of recipe multiplication. If you can't find a big batch recipe, just take a recipe you like and multiply it two or three times, says Wendy Trusler, author of The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning.
If you are going to make a soup that serves four, you might as well make one that serves 14, Trusler says. She honed her big batch cooking more than 20 years ago when feeding hungry tree planters; she then became the camp cook at Project Antarctica II at Bellingshausen, South Shetland Islands. Her work as a caterer, food stylist and Antarctic cook has been alongside her career as an interdisciplinary artist, and her reflex is to always double and triple a recipe, so that her family of three in Peterborough, Ont., has a plethora of options in the freezer year-round.
Soups, stews and dough for bread and cookies will last for many months in the freezer, Trusler says, so find a recipe that you can use different ways. Her bread dough (with 20 cups of flour) doubles as the basis for cinnamon rolls and other baked goods. Trusler's husband also has the batch cooking bug and cooks up a bushel of tomatoes into red sauce that can be used in stews, soups, spaghetti sauce and for taco night.
Shop big: "I got in the habit of keeping a well-stocked pantry when I couldn't reprovision easily while cooking in remote sites. I still find shopping in bulk, especially for dry goods, a huge time and money saver," says Trusler, who stores a couple of 10-kilogram bags of flour and oats at home.
Storing all the food you've made means developing useful habits, such as freezing your recipe in different size containers, from freezer bags (the ones that stand up are especially useful) to large reusable containers. This way, you can thaw just a little sauce on the days you need it, and a lot on the days you need that. During her three months in the Antarctic, Trusler was forced to freeze soup in individual water bottles when she couldn't find any containers.
Always use a felt-tip marker to label bags and containers. Adhesive labels will fall off in the freezer and you don't want mystery containers taking up coveted freezer space.
Freezer burn can ruin your food, so make sure that there is as little air touching the food as possible. Trusler squeezes out as much air as she can, but admits that she has been known to suck it out as well. Forcing out the air when the item is almost frozen can also work.
Trusler recommends organizing your freezer by category: She has a deep freezer and rotates its contents often enough that she has no surprises at the bottom. Oh – and freezing balls of cookie dough on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours before putting them in a freezer bag means you can always have warm cookies in minutes.