Batch cooking is a simple tool to save time, money, and mental energy when figuring out and preparing your weekly meals. Here’s how to get started.
DO start with recipes you know. When you batch cook, the dishes you make don’t have to change much; you mainly increase the quantity you cook. Instead of wasting time looking up and testing new recipes that are supposedly ideal for batch cooking, start with the foods you already make anyway and just make more. After a while, you will know what works best, and only then might you want to start experimenting more.
DON’T underestimate planning. Batch cooking requires careful planning and good time management. Before running to the shops, make a detailed list of the exact foods and amounts you will need for your various dishes. When you start preparing the food, you must consider different cooking times, coordinate your cooking accordingly and set enough time aside for the entire preparation, cooking, and cleaning. Because meal prepping is time-consuming, Sundays are often the best days to do it. Even though it feels like a lot on that day, it will save you huge amounts of time during the week.
DO label your containers. It is easy to lose track of what you have cooked once everything is neatly tucked away in boxes, especially if you’re going to freeze them. To avoid this, label the containers, so you know what’s inside. Adding the date on which you prepared the meal is even better and ensures you eat a dish before it goes off. If you want to be really organised, you can also note the day of the week the dish should be eaten; this can be especially useful for kids who might have to heat up food by themselves.
DON’T prepare every food in advance. Although one of the main goals of batch cooking is to save time in the kitchen, not every food can be prepared in advance and stored for several days. Avoid batch cooking pasta, leafy salads, or even some vegetables because the textures of those foods will change and become mushy. Instead, focus on what you can prepare, such as sauces and dressings, which you can then add to freshly cooked ingredients. Most vegetables can already be chopped and stored in an airtight container for a couple of days before you need them. Alternatively, you can undercook vegetables when you batch cook so they won’t become mushy when re-heated.
DO use sturdy containers. While reusing old takeaway containers is generally good, they might not be the right type for your batch cooking. If you don’t already have any, you will want to invest in high-quality food containers that are safe to put in the freezer, microwave, or even oven. Buying containers in the right sizes will also make storage and portion sizing much easier.
DON’T get bored. Not everyone likes the idea of eating the same meal several times in a row, but batch cooking doesn’t have to be boring. In addition to regularly mixing up your recipes, you can also change your approach. Instead of batch cooking an individual dish, you can simply meal prep various components that can then be assembled in different ways to create more varied meals.
DO store individual portions. If you have the space to store a number of containers, dividing up your portions after cooking is the best option. Your dishes will be easier to re-heat, and you will always have the right amount of food, thus avoiding waste.
DON’T limit yourself to the main meals. Because hearty foods such as soups or stews can easily batch cooked, we sometimes forget that other meals can also be prepared in advance. So don’t forget to meal prep your breakfast and snacks; in the end, it always only comes down to planning.