Have you ever heard of a food circle?
I must admit, I originally thought it was like the Canadian Government’s Food Guide, like the one I grew up with. Otherwise, I hadn’t heard the term before my sister’s sister-in-law suggested we do one in 2012, in the autumn before my sister was to have her first child. Simply speaking, a “food circle” is where loving friends and relatives get together at the lucky parents-to-be’s home, and prep and cook a number of batch recipes (usually agreed to in advance) that are then portioned out, labelled and placed in the freezer for that soon-to-come time when they will have their hands full with a little one and no time or energy to make nutritious and hearty meals for themselves, right at the time they actually need it most.
It’s meant to be a loving gift of time and effort (and usually the ingredients as well), and everyone cheerfully gets involved to the extent of their abilities, whether it’s coordinating, prepping, cooking/baking off, portioning, bagging, and labelling, or just making sure that the worker bees are all well-fed and watered themselves as the event progresses.
I’m looking forward to helping out in my next one (hee hee I love being an Auntie!), but more imminently is this coming weekend’s batch cooking frenzy, utilizing our region’s harvest bounty and our boundless imagination!
Batch cooking, also known as group cooking or freezer meals, is the same as a “food circle”, in that it’s simply the process of making multiple servings of one or several recipes, and freezing the portioned amounts for later. The only difference I can see is that batch cooking is often seasonal, instead of event-based (i.e. new bebeh), and usually revolves around harvest time, when crops are plentiful, high quality and lower-priced than in the cold winter months. Of course there’s nothing wrong with making out of season freezer meals; they just tend to cost a little more and utilize more canned and frozen foods.
Some super-awesome friends of ours will be coming up for the weekend and participating in our inaugural HarvestFest cook-off, starring such yummy favourites as Tomato Sauce For Days, Shepherd’s Pie (both original style and fake-meat style for us), Lasagna (same), Veggie Chili Stew, and “Beefy” Macaroni and Cheese. We’ll also be prepping up some pick-n-mix packets of stir-fry protein and steamed veggies with pre-cooked rice, so all that’s necessary is to take out the freezer bag, separate out the bags with the desired components, and reheat. With certain family members all working different shifts on different days, family mealtimes are a rarity, so it makes sense to portion out into smaller amounts for fewer leftovers and less spoilage.
While we haven’t made anything yet (being that it is to happen in the future from the date of this post), I have no photos to show as of yet, other than the pics of our ingredients above (ooh, fancy!). However, I do promise that next week I shall start posting the most popular recipes and photos of the magic in action!
In the meantime, here is a photo of a cute hedgie riding a raccoon plushie, saddle and all.