A Beginner’s Guide to Batch Cooking! By: Megan Kelly CNP
WHAT IS BATCH COOKING?
This refers to the practice of cooking multiple meals in “batches” and then either freezing or storing the leftovers to be reheated or used as components for quick meal assembly. Batch cooking is a helpful practice that often makes dealing with dietary restrictions more sustainable.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT SAVE?
Batch cooking can save some serious time in the kitchen. Cooking meals mostly from scratch for one week can take 20-30 hours, including cleanup. With a super organized batch cooking routine you can get that down to just 4-5 hours a week!
Not everyone has the planning capacity or need to completely batch cook all of their meals, and most successful elimination dieters split their time between cooking fresh meals and reheating meals that were previously batch cooked. A good goal is to aim to batch cook a few big soups/stews as well as some proteins to be used assembling salads or breakfast skillets on-the-go. Aiming for one 2–3 hour session once a week will really help out! Batch-cooking itself is not that difficult—often the planning and organization that comes before the actual cooking is the hardest part. There are some things to know about planning and executing a batch cooking session, so read on to find some helpful tips before you get started!
6 TIPS TO PICKING RECIPES FOR BATCH COOKING:
Select recipes that are one-pot. Minimizing recipes that call for a lot of cooking vessels is going to make things much easier to coordinate, as well as clean up at the end of the session. Soups/stews are easy for this reason, especially when the sautéing can be done in the same pot at the beginning of the recipe.
Select recipes that contain complete meals. It makes the best use of your time if you make meals that are complete meals instead of a bunch of sides. Start by planning a soup, stew, or skillet as the core of the routine and then see which sides fit in as opposed to the other way around.
Select meat recipes that can save time later. By cooking something like a chicken or a pot roast, you end up with a hunk of protein that you can use to make a super quick meal later in the week. Shredded meat can be added to a salad, stir-fry, or to make a quick soup with vegetables.
Select recipes that are simple and intuitive. This is not the time to try out a new complex recipe— think basic and doable. Avoid recipes that have a lot of steps and a large margin of error.
Take into account storage capabilities. Something like Bone Broth will last a week in the refrigerator, while fish is only going to last a day or two. Some recipes freeze well, others need to be eaten fresh. Take this into account when choosing a recipe!
Focus on nutrient-dense meals and not treats. Don’t include treat recipes in your batch-cooking sessions and instead focus on those that are going to be the most nourishing to your body. Find time to cook special treats on their own, after you’ve got your main meals squared away.
5 TIPS TO EXECUTE YOUR BATCH COOKING SESSION
Start with a clean kitchen, and make sure that all of your countertops are free from clutter. Because you will be going through a lot of volume of food and making a lot of dishes, it is best to start fresh to avoid overwhelm later.
Chop all of your ingredients before you start cooking. This will make it far easier to follow recipes, especially when you have more than one dish cooking at a time.
Use a timer. This is not a good time to “wing it,” especially if you are multitasking.
Clean as you go. You will be surprised at how much time you have while your food cooks—be prudent and use this time to take mini cleaning breaks. It will make the job so much easier at the end, and dishes are far easier to clean when they are freshly dirty.
Pack your meals in portion-size containers. This makes it easy to see how many meals you have ready to go.