Ever wanted to cook less, have meals frozen for whenever you need, and not have to eat the same meal every single day? Then this batch cooking for beginners guide is for you!
What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking is basically cooking in bigger amounts and for a longer period of time. A little bit like batching tasks.
Which in reality is when you do the same task for a longer time so that you don't spend energy changing tasks very often.
How does batch cooking work?
Plan on your calendar 3 to 4 hours to batch cook every week. I usually prefer to do this on a saturday or sunday but you could do it in any day of the week!
So, let's see all the steps to start batch cooking this week:
- Choose a day on your calendar when you are going to batch cook.
- Choose a day on your calendar when you are going to do your grocery shopping.
- Decide how many portions you'd like to cook. Let's say if you live by yourself, you want 10 portions. Why? You would have 4 portions to leave in your fridge and 6 portions to freeze so another 3 days of meals!
- Do those recipes need sides or are they a whole meal?
- After deciding how many portions you will need, decide the recipes you will use.
- Write down all the ingredients you will need.
What are good batch cook meals?
This can be the hardest decision but once you get the hang of it, it is super simple!
So, my top tips:
- Choose recipes that are freezable
- Choose recipes that make larger amounts or double or even triple the original recipe
- Choose recipes that use the same ingredients but in a different way
Recipes that use the same main ingredients
Sometimes, we don't batch cook because we assume that will mean we will be eating the same meal every single day but this doesn't need to happen!
Let me give you some ideas and real examples of how you can do this!
- Make the lentil bolognese (without adding the pasta) and double or triple the recipe.
- Roast double or triple the amount of sweet potatoes and while you are at it, roast some bell pepper and some broccoli too!
- Use the lentil bolognese as the filling of the shepherd's pie instead of making the shepherd's pie recipe's filling
- Use part of the roasted sweet potatoes to make the layer of mashed potatoes and leave the leftover roasted potatoes to make buddha bowls along with the bell pepper and broccoli.
What can I batch cook and freeze?
This is another really important point when batch cooking.
Depending on how many portions you will want to make and how large your freezer actually is, you might want to cook 10 portions at once or even 20 portions!
So, how do you do this?
Choose recipes that you can easily cook a larger amount of and that will be perfect to freeze, such as:
- Stews and curries - these are my go-to when batch cooking because it is basically cooking everything in one pot, letting it simmer, and then cool down. Transfer to an airtight container and you are good to go!
- Soups - soups freeze really well too!
- Burgers - bean burgers freeze quite well! So you could make these black bean burgers or even red bean burgers and freeze any extra you have with some paper in between so they don't stick together.
- Casseroles with mashed potatoes - casseroles with mashed potatoes like this shepherd's pie, freeze really well and are easy to make extra of!
- Roasted vegetables - you can double or even triple the number of vegetables you are roasting.
How do I make a grocery list?
This topic is so important that it is also covered on this post on how to cook faster!
Now, you have decided the recipes you would like to make the next time you batch cook and all that is left is grocery shopping!
First of all, you can decide either to make a paper list or a list on your phone either on the notes app of your phone or you could also use google keep (I use this one every time!).
If you have a super-detailed list, you will buy only ingredients that you need for the next week, so:
- You will save money
- You won't buy more snacks for example that you might not need
- You won't have vegetables going bad in the fridge because you will cook everything that you'll buy
Time to make a detailed grocery list!
- Decide the recipes that you would like to cook at the same time.
- Decide the number of portions you need and if you are doubling the recipe amount.
- Write down all the ingredients that you need and be super specific with the amounts from how many grams you need of each vegetable or how many items of each and don't forget to check if you have the spices.
- At the supermarket, look at your grocery list and try to only buy what you will need.
How long does it take to batch cook?
This will depend on how many different recipes you are making but also how organized you are during batch cooking (don't worry, with practice it becomes faster every time!).
So, how can you save time when batch cooking?
This goes back to my tips on how to cook faster.
First of all, open the recipes you are using either on your phone, tablet, laptop, or even the paper where you have printed it on.
- Read the recipes so that you know the steps.
- Gather all the ingredients including the beans, spices, and vegetables, and sauces needed.
- Peel any vegetables that require it.
- Chop all the vegetables for all recipes and separate them according to the recipe.
There was a lot of information on this post, and the last thing I would like is to confuse you so let me make a list of all the steps mentioned previously.
- After deciding you want to batch cook, choose a day of the week to do it on.
- Choose a day of the week to go grocery shop.
- Decide what to cook. You could either:
- Choose recipes that use the same main ingredients and adapt them to change them up a bit
- Choose recipes that are easy to cook extra of and are freezable.
- Decide the number of portions. (I would suggest only leaving in the fridge enough for 3 days and freezing the rest)
- Do a detailed grocery list.
- When cooking:
- Gather the ingredients.
- Marinate the needed ingredients if applicable.
- Chop all the vegetables.
- Cook and enjoy having all those meals done!