Batch Cooking 101
If you’re struggling to get dinner on the table each night, batch cooking may be the answer you’re looking for! Batch cooking is when you set aside one to two hours each week to prepare larger portions of meals or parts of meals to be eaten throughout the week. So instead of spending 45 minutes or more cooking each night, you can pull a complete meal together in the time it takes to reheat it and serve. These meals can be stored in the refrigerator and eaten in the coming days, or frozen for weeks or months later. Typically, batch cooking is done on the day you do your grocery shopping so that you can prepare the meals even before putting the groceries away.
Wondering how to incorporate some batch cooking techniques into your routine? Give these suggestions a try.
Breakfast If finding time to eat breakfast in the morning is your greatest challenge, you can use batch cooking to prepare breakfast meals that simply need to be reheated or assembled in the morning.
Smoothies: Put smoothie ingredients into large resealable bags and store in the freezer for when you need them. Or, make a large batch of smoothies and store in freezable cups. Simply put one into the refrigerator to thaw overnight and enjoy in the morning.
Baked Oatmeal: Make double batches of this recipe for breakfast all week, or freeze in individual portions for later!
Eggs: Mini frittatas are ready in seconds after popping them in the microwave. This is also a great way to use up leftover vegetables.
Fruit: Even just washing and cutting fresh fruit when you bring it home can be a huge time saver. Keep a bowl of fruit salad in the fridge to add to yogurt, or enjoy as a snack.
Lunch and Dinner
If finding the time to prepare a nutritious lunch or dinner is your greatest challenge, you can use batch cooking to prepare sides or main dishes that require a simple re-heat when you’re ready to eat.
Vegetables: Make a large garden salad to serve as a side or as the main meal if you add some protein. Roasted vegetables are another great option. Select three vegetables each week and roast them together on a large sheet pan. These vegetables can be reheated throughout the week as sides, added to soups and pasta dishes, or even turned into sauces.
Proteins: Baked or grilled chicken breast is a great protein to make ahead because of its versatility. Whether it’s on a salad, part of a sandwich or in a stir fry, there are so many possibilities it’s difficult to get bored.
Starches: Whole grains are a great addition to meals but can take 30 minutes or more to cook. To save time, choose one whole grain such as wild rice, quinoa, or barley and cook a large batch to store in the fridge for the week. That way you can heat up what you need.
If the thought of preparing all of these components is intimidating, start by choosing one and slowly add to your batch cooking routine over time. Before you know it, you’ll have a system in place that makes meal planning and prep a fast and enjoyable experience.