I love batch cooking. To me, it’s the easiest way to meal prep, especially if you have picky eaters or members of your household follow different diets.
What Is Batch Cooking
Batch cooking is exactly what it sounds like, preparing and/or cooking big batches of various foods that can be mixed and matched throughout the week for different meals.
Simple Steps to Get Ready to Batch Cooking
I am a huge proponent of batch cooking, and I learned a lot by trial and error. I can save you a lot of error by laying out a few organizational tips that can make batch cooking run very smooth.
Know Your Schedule
Look at your schedule and determine what your week looks like and how much time you have throughout the week to get dinner on the table.
Plan Your Meals
Batch cooking is about using the same base in different ways. For example, you can buy a gigantic package of ground beef. For batch cooking – use some of the meat for taco meat, use some of the meat for hamburgers, make meatballs, make a meatloaf, add it to marinara sauce with some fresh chopped vegetables for a meat sauce.
Try to use 1 – 2 proteins but no more because you’ll lose the benefits of batch cooking.
You can have rice in several of your recipes, share similar vegetables throughout the week to help fill out your menu.
Organize Your Grocery List
Sometimes you’ll find that the number of items on your grocery list can be significantly smaller when you batch cook as you’re making big batches of food with similar ingredients.
If you can organize your shopping list by item categories (dairy, meat, produce, frozen, etc) you can find that the amount of time grocery shopping might be cut dramatically.
Chop all your vegetables for the week
These can be used in salads, for lunches, and as side dishes for dinners throughout the week. If you have family members that don’t like raw veggies, you can roast a bunch of veggies and then just reheat throughout the week.
As I mentioned above, you can cook rice or other grains that can last all week. I cook up steel cut oats for my breakfast, and then just reheat. My oats do get dry, but I’ve learned to add part of a vanilla protein shake to kick up my protein intake without having to eat more meat. But, you can cook up quinoa, rice, beans, bulgur and just about any other grain ahead of time.
Make Dressing and Sauces
If you’re having salads, make up the dressings ahead of time. I do not like the taste of bottled dressings and have been making my own dressing for years. It’s easy, quick, and you only have to tackle it once and it can last all week long.
A Little of This and a Little of That
There are some universal meals that can be made from batch cooking. Here’s the thing, just because you have the same ‘item’ each week doesn’t mean it’s the same thing. Make sense? Ha! For example, if you follow Taco Tuesday – every Tuesday you can have tacos.
Depending on what you have cooked for the week, your meat will vary, your vegetables will vary and you can buy a wide variety of sauces and salsas (unless you make your own salsa, but even then, there are cookbooks that ONLY cover salsas) to further alter the flavors. Fish tacos, veggie tacos, traditional ground beef tacos, soft tacos, crunchy tacos, etc.
This variety can work with the following meal ideas
- Rice bowls
- Stir frys
Meal Prep Overlap
Batch cooking and freezer cooking (link here for blog post) can overlap as you can easily batch cook and then throw extra portions into the freezer for later. This works incredibly well with soups, stews, ground meat. This will not work so well with roasted vegetables, rice dishes and pasta dishes.
Overall, I love batch cooking because if someone doesn’t like sweet potatoes, I can swap in another cooked grain, such as quinoa. As my kids get older, they’re more than capable of assembling their own dinner if need be – all the ingredients are there and I am comforted knowing that there are plenty of healthy choices available.
If you want to learn more about to meal prep, from batch cooking, freezer cooking, and food safety, please check out my book, Meal Prep Made Easy.