The Big Cook: Interview And Giveaway

Boomer and I had the pleasure of partnering with the author’s behind The Big Cook for a book review and giveaway.  We both found The Big Cook concept fascinating and wanted to learn more about how the author’s began solving the dinner dilemma.  I spent some time chatting with author Lorelei Thomas last week about how The Big Cook can help people save time and money.

Tell us about the inspiration behind The Big Cook

Between the three of us we have 11 children, and finding the time to cook healthy meals while balancing a household full of activities was becoming a real challenge for us.  We decided to get away for a day together to prepare a few meals “en masse” so we had some healthy meals on-hand for those busy days.

We ended up preparing about 30 meals in 6 hours that day and brought home 10 meals each.  The idea really took off, so when those 10 meals ran out we decided to get together again, but this time we prepared 60 meals and brought home 20 meals each.  We got faster every time and finally got to the point where we could prepare around 200 meals in an 8 hour period, which gave us each about 2-3 months worth of already prepared meals.

Preparing 200 meals sounds like a lot of work. How does this save people time?

The one thing that we found is that if it takes 15 minutes to prepare 1 meal, it will only take 17 minutes to prepare 8 meals of the same recipe.  That’s the power of preparing food in bulk.  By having already prepared meals in your freezer, getting dinner ready is as simple as throwing something in the slow-cooker in the morning before work, or popping it in the oven or microwave when you get home.

We spend about 8 hours every 3 months to prepare 200 meals, taking home about 70 meals each.  I would estimate that we save ourselves an hour a day with The Big Cook.

Buying food in bulk saves quite a bit of money too, right?

Definitely.  In the book we give you all of the measurements for each ingredient so that when you’re shopping for The Big Cook you can take advantage of buying in bulk.  When you’re shopping at Costco, for example, you can buy a 1.5L bottle of ketchup for $5.99 or you can pay $4.99 for a bottle half the size at another grocery store.

We also call in our meat order in advance.  Not only do we receive a bulk discount, but we have developed a good relationship with the butchers and now they cut and wrap our meat into the portions we need, which saves us even more time on our preparation day.

It’s not just about buying in bulk though, think of all the money you save by always having prepared meals on-hand.  No more last minute fast food trips or ordering take-out.  With my family of four boys, it would cost us at least $70 for dinner at a restaurant.  With The Big Cook, each dinner costs less than $10.

What are some tips you can recommend for people trying The Big Cook?

Do your grocery shopping the day before your Big Cook and even do some preparation that night.  As I said before, call your meat order in ahead of time and see if they will divide your meat into the exact portions you need.  This will save you a lot of time.

Use a weigh scale, they’re inexpensive and extremely handy to have around when working with a lot of ingredients.  You can download our free grocery list that matches up with all 73 recipes in our book.

Even if you aren’t doing a Big Cook, never make just one meal…make at least four of the same dish and throw the other ones in the freezer for a later date.  For smaller families, pick 4 recipes and prepare them on a Saturday afternoon.  It will only take a few hours and you’ll have 16 meals prepared for when you need them.

What’s next for The Big Cook?

We’ve already sold over 40,000 copies of The Big Cook, which is available at Chapter’s stores across Canada and in Costco.  We’ve been on The Shopping Channel four times promoting the book and the concept.  We have a very engaged Facebook group who are constantly giving us feedback on recipes and ideas.  We’re taking all of this feedback and are putting together the next edition of The Big Cook, which features 120 recipes and will hopefully be available closer to Christmas.

Time for a giveaway!

If you’d like the chance to win your own copy of The Big Cook, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Leave a comment about how you get dinner on the table while managing a busy schedule (1 entry)
  • Like Boomer and Echo on Facebook (1 entry) and join The Big Cook Facebook group (1 entry)
  • Follow us on Twitter (1 entry)
  • Subscribe to our blog via RSS or Email (1 entry)

You have 5 chances to enter The Big Cook book giveaway.  If you already like us, follow us or subscribe, just leave a comment to let us know.

The deadline to enter the giveaway is 5pm MST on Wednesday July 20th, 2011.  We will announce the winner on Friday July 22nd, 2011.

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  1. Deb on July 13, 2011 at 6:56 am

    We’re a two income family with two kids, so dinner is always a challenge for us.

    Would love to try the book out. I’ve subscribed, liked and followed!

  2. Jules on July 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Not only a great idea for families but empty nesters who still have full time jobs and busy schedules. Can’t wait to try this out!

  3. Lindsey on July 13, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I think this is a great idea for students too! Getting a group together for a day to cook together, and then have affordable meals! LOVE the idea!

  4. Tom Drake on July 13, 2011 at 10:18 am

    While we don’t make 200 meals at a time, we’ll often cook extra for other meals. For example, we’ll fry up a lot of ground beef, use some for tacos that night and then the next morning we’ll make enough chili in the slow cooker for supper that second night and lots of leftovers to freeze for lunches.

    Would love to win the book!

  5. youngandthrifty on July 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I had some better luck/ time management this weekend and made some dinner ahead of time (on Sunday).

    I love freezer cooking, would love to win this book!

  6. Pedro on July 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    My wife usually takes care of the food prep. She makes big batches of our favorite recipes and freezes portions for us to reheat later. Sometimes I “cook”, which means I get carry out from our favorite restaurant.

  7. Pedro on July 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I subscribe via RSS.

  8. Travis @Debtchronicles on July 13, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I’m subscribed via RSS.

  9. Travis @Debtchronicles on July 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I’m following on Twitter!

  10. Travis @Debtchronicles on July 13, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    On days when we’re really busy in the evening I try to pre-make something in the AM or the night before so that it just has to be re-heated, or baked the next day.

  11. JB @ My University Money on July 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I love this idea, it sucks cooking for yourself, looking forward for the chance to win this book!

  12. Homemade Baby Food on July 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    My wife will get everything ready for when I get home from work – once I am home I will start the cooking while she sets the table / gets the kids ready for eating time.

    Subscribed to RSS Feed
    Like Boomer & Echo via Facebook
    Following via twitter – username: jeremyrwross

  13. Mike Holman on July 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    My kids love plain pasta with a bit of butter. Needless to say, that is a good backup in our house.

  14. Tracey H on July 15, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I used to do big cooks when I had kids at home, but now I just cook two meals at a time. So when I’m making meatloaf, I make 2 and freeze one. It’s kind of a mini-Big Cook.

  15. Patricia on July 15, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I try to make one meat dish the basis for several meals. For example, a roast chicken is dinner one night, panini with salad the next, and soup, stew or pot pie another (can be popped in the freezer).

  16. amy on July 15, 2011 at 7:28 am

    My problem is I never know what to make for dinner so we have the same 5 things over and over again.

  17. petra on July 15, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Saturday afternoon is my designated cooking time. I prepare easy recipes to reheat and enjoy throughout the week.

  18. petra on July 15, 2011 at 8:47 am

    follow via RSS

  19. petra on July 15, 2011 at 8:48 am

    following on twitter

  20. R Winklareth on July 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I never know what to cook and while I do cook everynight it is a challenge….I usually have something defrosted and go to my favorite recipe sites for ideas…. with 3 teens + boyfriend +friends + hubby it is always a challenge! I need help! LOL

  21. kipchick on July 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Help! I always have good intentions to pre-plan but usually I fall off the wagon.

  22. Allie on July 15, 2011 at 11:49 am

    My little trick is to BBQ several meals worth of food at once – if I’m heating up the whole BBQ, I might as well use the full grill space for cooking – then just reheat my precooked chicken breasts, beef, etc for future meals. Would love a copy of your book, I need more expert tips with two wee ones to feed!

  23. Lou phillips on July 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    When we do our big shopping at Costco, i always include a rotisserie chicken – sandwiches that evening, as we put food away. The rest of the meat is peeled off the carcass that night and goes into the fridge as the meat for at least 3 potpies the next day. The juices/drippings in the container, go into the fridge to be the basis for gravy. The carcass goes into the crockpot overnight with an onion, the leaves from both the carrots and the bunch of celery in my order. Presto! – rich, tasty chicken broth. Use the broth with the drippings to make a rich gravy base for the chicken pot pies (or save it for soups).

  24. Cindy on July 15, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Eating healthy, economically, and saving time are all goals we’d like to achieve with our meal plans! I do find that not only cooking an extra meal to freeze is important, but cooking extra portions for lunches the next day is necessary too. So not only do you save time and money with future dinner options in your freezer, you avoid spending money and eating junk food for lunch too!

  25. Amber on July 16, 2011 at 1:07 am

    The success I have in getting dinner on the table while parenting four young children mainly lies in meal planning! Having stuff in the freezer is always a bonus, though it isn’t a regular occurrence. I’d love to win a copy of this book and try my hand at it!
    ‘Like’d Boomer and Echo on facebook. 🙂
    Requested to join The Big Cook on facebook. 😀
    Following you on Twitter. (amalimanga)
    Just added you to my Google Reader. 🙂

  26. Monica White on July 16, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    With three adults in the house we all pitch in, once I plan and shop for groceries – one person preps, one cooks and one cleans. It’s so much easier with a plan and meals made ahead. I would love to have a copy of this book!

  27. Judy Robinson on July 17, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Both my husband and I work full time and have a son who has moved back in after university. With three adults working full time, getting dinner on the table in a timely fashion is a hit and miss affair. Have meals at the ready would make all our lives just that much easier.

  28. garryo on July 18, 2011 at 6:50 am

    I don’t know if we could pull it off but would like to get a perspective on it.

  29. Elizabeth on July 18, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I make a big batch of two different things on sunday – that gives me sunday dinner and lunch to take to work every day through the rest of the week!

  30. Donna B. on July 19, 2011 at 5:47 am

    I try to take shortcuts where possible – bagged salad greens, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, cukes and onions make a great quick salad (and the only prep is the cukes and onions), frozen veggies nuked become another quick side dish, I’ll start a main dish in the crock pot before work so it’s ready when I get home. If we’re grilling, I’ll cook extra protein for quick tacos or wraps for dinner the next night.

    I subscribe to your blog via RSS. I follow Boomer and Echo on Twitter. I sent a request to join The Big Cook Facebook group. I like Boomer and Echo on Facebook.

  31. Madison Maguire on July 19, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I use my rice cooker, so that I can put the rice on in the morning to have it ready when I get home. Also, I make big batches of thing son Sunday to be prepared for the week.

  32. Echo on July 21, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Thanks for all of the great responses! The contest is now closed and I will be adding up all of your entries and drawing a name generated from I’ll announce the winner at the beginning of Friday’s post.

    Good luck to everyone who entered!

  33. js_cooldude on July 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    moving away on my own pretty son (in 3 months) so i could definitively use those recipes!

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