Table of Contents
- What is Batch Cooking
- Why You Should Try Healthy Batch Cooking
- How to Prepare Your Healthy Batch Cooking Plan For the Week Ahead
- 8 Steps to Start Batch Cooking
- Healthy Batch Cooking Menu and Recipes
- Batch Cooking is the Ultimate Healthy Family Dinner Solution!
What is Batch Cooking
Batch cooking is your new weeknight magic trick. Well, there aren’t any actual magic tricks happening, but it can make weeknights go more smoothly and free up your valuable time, which sounds magical, doesn’t it?
Batch cooking is a well-loved kitchen hack that is, quite simply, what it sounds like – cooking food in batches. This is done by making large quantities of food all at once, instead of making separate, individual meals every night. By making big batches of various ingredients that can be used for a variety of meals, you can save time, reduce stress, and have tasty meals ready to eat when you (and your hungry family) are.
While it may take you a couple of hours to complete your batch cooking preparation at the beginning of the week, spending a couple of hours on meal preparation at once will actually save you time later. And when you’re tired at the end of a busy day, it sure is nice to be able to serve up a healthy meal you’ve already prepared!
Why You Should Try Healthy Batch Cooking
If you’re looking for ways to streamline your life, make things easier, and feed your family nutritious food, then healthy batch cooking is for you! Let’s break it down. If you’re cooking every night, that could take 30-60 minutes of your time. Multiply that by 5-7 days a week (depending on how many fresh meals you make and if your family has a take-out night), and that could add up to 7 hours a week! Even if your nightly cooking is on the lower end of the time spectrum, it’s still something you have to do every night. Cooking delicious meals for my family is something I truly enjoy, but on busy weekdays having more flexibility with my time while still eating nutritious food is a priority for me. Cooking something from scratch every night takes away from other things you could be doing like enjoying a book, watching your favorite show, exercising, hobbies, or spending time with your family!
Healthy batch cooking can help the family budget, too! You can save on groceries by buying food in bulk. And by preparing food in large quantities, you and your family will have healthy meals and snacks ready at home, instead of eating out, which can equal big savings.
Batch cooking can help free up time, save money and also increase mental bandwidth. When you know what you’re cooking, have meals planned and prepared, you might even feel more up to trying a new fun recipe or making those special holiday treats you’ve been thinking about. Once you get the hang of healthy batch cooking, you can flex your new culinary skills and prepare both in bulk and specialty items with ease.
How to Prepare Your Healthy Batch Cooking Plan For the Week Ahead
If this process sounds familiar, it’s because batch cooking and meal planning are closely related. Meal planning is an important step to batch cooking. You definitely need to plan your meals out in order to successfully do batch cooking! Batch cooking is taking your weeknight cooking routine to the next level. After you plan out what meals you will eat and gather needed ingredients, you’ll prepare all of the ingredients you will need for the different meals at once, portion them out into the amounts you’ll need each time, or complete a recipe and save for later.
Grocery List for Batch Cooking Recipes
Once you choose your recipes, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Take stock of what you have already in your kitchen and add anything to your grocery list that you may need. Here are a few grocery list items you may need for batch cooking and that can be prepared ahead of time:
- Meats – chicken, beef, salmon, etc.
- Vegetables – Celery, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and kale.
- Fruit – Apples, grapes, berries.
- Grains – Brown rice, quinoa, oats.
- Lentils, black beans, chickpeas.
RELATED: The Best Healthy Pantry Essentials
Cooking and Storage Supplies for Batch Cooking
You’ll need food storage containers that are both fridge and freezer-friendly for batch cooking. These silicone bags are great for storing just about anything and they come in a variety of sizes. I also love these Pyrex containers because they’re sturdy and clear, so I can see what’s inside without opening it! They easily go store in the refrigerator and are great when you want to freeze a recipe.
Set Aside Time for Healthy Batch Cooking With Your Family
Realistically, you’ll need a few hours to prepare for the week ahead. Washing, drying, chopping, measuring, mixing, cooking, and cleaning. The whole family can participate and it will speed up the process and could become a fun family ritual, too! Teach kids how to cook from an early age with age-appropriate jobs like washing vegetables or mixing dry ingredients. And if their little tummies get hungry during the process, what a perfect time to let them ‘sneak’ a snack of healthy veggies! Let your kids participate in the process by helping decide what to cook for the week. Giving choices can bring a sense of ownership to the task!
Other Helpful Tools for Batch Cooking
Healthy batch cooking is much easier when you have all the right tools to do the job. Here are some additional kitchen items to consider when planning your batch cooking recipes:
- Good quality pots and pans. I love Caraway Home’s non-stick and non-toxic cookware set and use it all the time!
- Instant Pot. This will save tons of time and it’s great for cooking meats in bulk!
- A large casserole dish. If you’re planning on making a dish to eat for a couple of dinners, then a casserole dish is a must.
- Slow Cooker – also great for soups, stews, and slow cooked meats!
- A blender for blending smoothies, soups, dressings, sauces, and more tasty things. I like this Ninja blender because it comes with a complete system – a food processor and smaller blenders for individual smoothies.
- More food storage containers. These containers are great for storing ingredients or portioned out meals that have already been prepared.
8 Steps to Start Batch Cooking
Alright, so now we’re ready to get started with batch cooking! Here’s a quick step-by-step plan to get you going. Remember, batch cooking is all about convenience and consolidation, so rely on convenience where you can. For example, if your recipe calls for rice, use the steam-in-a-bag rice to save even more time. Or if a recipe calls for diced bell peppers, buy the pre-chopped ones from the grocery store.
Step 1: Meal Planning
Decide on 2-3 dishes you want to make for lunch and dinner that week. Look for recipes that use many of the same ingredients, like soups, stews, salads, or this instant pot shredded chicken, so you don’t have to overthink it and overcomplicate it as you’re getting started. The beauty of batch cooking is in the simplicity, so keep it simple!
Choose a grain, veggie, protein, sauce, or spices. Use recipes where each ingredient can be used and changed up with sauces or spices.
Step 2: Make Your Ingredient/Grocery List
Now that you’ve decided what you’ll make, you need to get all the ingredients. Make a list, go to the store, or order groceries online!
Step 3: Get All Containers and Cookware in Order
Take stock of your kitchen gear and make sure you have what you need. You may need additional food storage containers, but you can certainly get started with whatever you have on hand.
Step 4: Review Your Meal Plan
This is when you’ll read over the recipes and determine what veggies need to be chopped, how much pasta you need to cook, or which meats to prep in advance. Make a list of which ingredients you will cook or chop on your batch cooking day!
Step 5: Prepare Your Ingredients
Now is the time to portion out all of your ingredients for each recipe. If you have 3 recipes that call for chicken, prepare all of the chicken for all of the recipes. Wash and chop veggies. Portion out any grains you plan to use. You may also decide to do this step ahead of time before you actually begin cooking. It’s a good way to break up the batch cooking if needed!
Step 6: Batch Cooking Day
All of your planning has led to the big day, cooking day! Personally, Sundays tend to be my cooking days since it helps me prepare for the week ahead. This is when you’ll cook your meats, sauté your veggies, boil your pasta, or do whatever else you need to do to complete or prepare your recipe. Set aside a couple of hours to do this.
Step 7: Storing Your Good
Bring out your food storage containers and portion your cooked meals or meal components into them accordingly. If you made a large casserole, simply cover it and store it in your fridge or freezer for a later time. Pre-cut veggies and fruit for snacking can be placed in mason jars or other containers, washed apples placed in an area that’s easy to grab and go, etc!
Step 8: Enjoy Your Food!
This is the best part of healthy batch cooking, enjoying it! The fruits of your labor have paid off and now you can quickly get dinner on the table and enjoy more of your evening.
Healthy Batch Cooking Menu and Recipes
Here are a few healthy batch cooking recipes to help you plan your weekly menu. These recipes can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on how much you want to cook and how many recipes you plan to make.
Breakfast and Snacks
These recipes will use oats and/or eggs as the base ingredients. These are both easy items to get in bulk and can be used in a variety of recipes, so any extra ingredients can be easily used. They’re great for making ahead of time and having ready to eat during your busy weekday morning routine. You can also add an egg to any of the meals, cook it however you like fresh that morning!
- Oatmeal pumpkin pancakes are light, fluffy, and a perfect breakfast just in time for fall.
- Pumpkin pie overnight oats are creamy, sweet, and healthy. Another great pumpkin recipe!
- Simple healthy banana bread is a great recipe for breakfast or snacks. Delicious and nutritious!
- Healthy protein bars you can buy that actually taste good and are great for snacks if you’re in a pinch.
Lunches and Dinners
These are some tasty batch cooking recipes using my Instant pot chicken recipe! They’re easy to make and SO delicious. Simply prep the chicken and a few other ingredients at the beginning of the week, then throw these recipes together in no time at all!
- Chicken pesto pasta bake is a delicious recipe that can be cooked ahead of time and reheated.
- Sriracha shredded chicken tacos can be quickly assembled since all of the ingredients will be prepared and chopped ahead of time.
- Healthy chicken broccoli pasta casserole will fill tummies and is great reheated as well.
Batch Cooking is the Ultimate Healthy Family Dinner Solution!
Healthy batch cooking helps keep you on track with your health and fitness goals, saves money, reduces stress, and frees up more time during your weeknights. Having healthy meals and snacks ready to eat makes it easy for you to avoid expensive and unhealthy fast food, which actually saves you money, too. Win-win!
It relieves the mental burden of wondering what to make for dinner every night, giving you more time to decompress and reduce stress. Another win!
So, give it a try for the week ahead. Be sure to use the recipes linked in this blog and let me know how it all went in the comments below!