Batch Cooking #1 | Where do I begin?
Hey, you! What's new with you? 😊
As cliché as it might seem, I can't help but make New Year's resolutions every year. Sadly, I don't always follow through, but I do try. Anyways, this year I've decided to read more French books (at least once a month) and Batch Cooking.
First things first, what is Batch Cooking?
Batch Cooking is a method of meal preparation which implies cooking in batches – more food, less often. Instead of doing the work daily, you do it once or twice a week only.
The idea is to save time and money but still be able to regularly indulge in wholesome, homemade meals. Fewer trips to the shops and more mindful purchases, result to less money spent. You will also be saving money by reducing food waste – reusing ingredients and giving your leftovers a second life is big in batch cooking philosophy.
Personally, I practice batch cooking as a way to make meals ahead of time for myself and my family. I free up more precious after-work time to do things with my loved-ones.
I'm ready to begin, what's next?
Step 1: Prepare your tools / storing containers / appliances
First, check what you have on-hand:
Appliances / Tools
Pots and Pans
Glass food storage containers
Different sizes of containers (XL, L, M, S, XS)
Glass bottle with lid
Reusable freezer bags
If you're just starting out with Batch Cooking, try not to spend so much money on appliances and materials. Do with what you have at first. Try it out a couple of times because Batch Cooking might not work out with your lifestyle.
Step 2: Meal Planning
If this is your first time with meal planning, start small – make a plan for three days, and slowly move on to a weekly plan.
Use seasonal fruits and vegetables and try to use them in different recipes. For example, 1 kilo carrots (raw in a salad, diced in spaghetti sauce, and sliced to be roasted).
Don't forget to think about the accompanying cereals (rice, couscous semolina, quinoa, pasta)
Check what you have in the freezer which can be defrosted for a meal. Check out what you have in your cupboards as well.
Write down and collect your favorite recipes. Identify the dishes that don't work well.
If you don't mind eating the same thing twice in a row, you can prepare dishes like stews, which are better reheated.
Cook at least 3-4 veggies – to rotate and have variety and balance.
Don't hesitate to make easy recipes. Don't overcomplicate your plans.
Prepare one base recipe which can be adapted into different dishes. For example, prepare a huge pot of tomato-meat sauce which can be used with pasta, baked potatoes, shepherd's pie, and more.
Think about which cooking appliances are required for which recipe. If one item is roasting in the oven, you can make something else in the slow-cooker. Try to get one item started in each major appliance you have (oven, stove, slow-cooker, air-fryer, etc ...)
Also take into consideration the storage containers and space in your refrigerator.
Step 3: Grocery-Shopping
The idea of Batch Cooking is to save time and money. In my experience, I make my shopping list for the week so I never have to worry about what to eat.
Create a shopping list based on your meal plan and buy all of the ingredients.
Step 4: Meal Prep
After grocery shopping and before doing the actual cooking, you might have to block some time and energy for meal prepping.
Will you be cooking any legumes that need to be soaked overnight? Do you plan to use any of your previously frozen sauces or soups? Go through your meal plan and see what other preparation you may need to do on your ingredients the day before.
Wash and pre-chop vegetables, so you don’t waste time doing it during the week. (Make sure to dry them well so they don’t spoil!)
Make sure you have the right containers to store the food once you prepare it. Glass containers and airtight jars are great for storing food in the fridge, but you also want to have a good selection of freezer-friendly containers and a stash of freezer bags on hand.
Step 5: Cooking Day and Storing
The day has come to cook your meals for the week. Block 3-4 hours in your day, wear your favourite apron, play some fun music, and get down to business.
Write down your cooking plan
Place the items you need to prepare in order from longest cooking time to shortest cooking time. Use this cooking order as a guideline, so that most items finish cooking at roughly the same time.
Decide what will be stored in the refrigerator and what will be stored in the freezer.
Cool completely before you store.
If it’s your first time ever batch cooking, do a complete fridge and freezer clean-up before you start. Batch cooking relies heavily on freezing already prepared food for later use, so you want to ensure you have enough space for it.
So what do you think? Any questions?
P.S. Next time I'll be posting some recipes.