The Magical Benefits of Batch Cooking and Meal Prepping
Are you ready to hear about something that could revolutionize your life? Batch cooking helps you save time, eat healthier, and can save you money! Another bonus is your kitchen remains clean the whole rest of the week. Getting started with batch cooking does take a little work and planning, but the effort is well worth the benefits. Once you get used to it, you’ll regret not starting sooner!
Batch cooking and meal prepping means spending a few hours per week cooking or prepping all or most of your meals for the week, and then storing them in the fridge or freezer partially or fully assembled. Your meals are then ready to take out and heat for your family dinner or throw into a lunch box.
There are several steps you must take to get started with batch cooking. The first is planning a menu. Planning a menu may seem laborious and intimidating, but it doesn't have to be.
Below are 3 ways to plan your menu:
Subscribe to a meal planning service. I love using the meal plans from The Happy Herbivore at www.getmealplans.com. Each week I pick 3-4 recipes, and then I double them. I divide these meals up for lunch and dinner for myself, my husband and my sons. It works fabulously, and it eliminates any need for me to plan out the menu myself. It also provides variety which keeps my husband and older son happy.
Use a meal-planning program such as PlanToEat.com. This requires you to input all of your favorite recipes or download them from blogs. But once they are in the system, you can plug them into your weekly menu, and it will create a shopping list for you. This is a great option if you would rather use your own tried and true recipes.
The third option is to keep meal planning incredibly simple and each week pick 1-2 whole grains, bean and vegetables that you would like to have that week and make it in large enough quantities for several meals. It is also a good idea to make 1-2 sauces to keep your meals interesting.
I’ve used all of these methods and they have all worked for me at one time or another. Try them out and see what fits your current lifestyle the best.
The next step is to plan enough time in your schedule to shop for your ingredients and cook or prepare all the ingredients or the meals for the week. You will likely need a few hours the first time you attempt to batch cook for the week. As you get better, you will likely get faster. You will also learn which recipes are simpler and take less time.
The third step is to organize your plan for the cooking and preparation. For example, if one of the recipes is rice bowls, and another is veggie patties that calls for brown rice, start the rice cooking while you chop veggies. You can chop fruit and veggies or make sauces while grains and beans cook, and then you can assemble the meals into reusable containers. It is also helpful to determine which recipes can be assembled ahead of time or which ones would taste best if the ingredients are kept separate until it is time to eat. For example, a tamale casserole will keep great all together, but a burrito will taste best if the ingredients are warmed and placed into the tortilla right before eating. Once you get the hang of it, the process will seem like second nature.
At first, it might be easier to just batch cook one meal time. For example, one very easy meal to batch cook is breakfast. My husband and I love to make overnight oats in mason jars. In the morning, we just take out a jar and either eat it cold or heat it up in the microwave. Super simple! Another great breakfast option may be a potato and chickpea scramble with veggies. Try making your breakfast for a week and then add lunch or dinner as you get used to the process.
Finally, there are some fancy appliance that make batch cooking a lot easier and help save time and effort. Although these aren't essential, as you get more experienced with batch cooking, you may appreciate having the convenience. I love my Instant Pot, but there are now many other brands now of programmable pressure cookers on the market. What I love best about my pressure cooker is that I can “set it and forget it” while I do other things. In addition, I also really love my rice cooker. Having a good high speed blender or food processor also makes for smooth sauces and dressings.
I hope that this article will encourage you to try batch cooking a few times. Remember the first couple of times may feel a bit overwhelming, but it is completely ok to take it one step at a time. Figure out the best way for you and your family and keep trying until it is fun and easy for you. Once you find the routine that works for you, you won't want to go back!
Do you batch cook for your family? If so, what tips do you have for first time batch cookers. If you don't batch cook, what is holding you back? Comment below, leave me a like, and please share this blog post. Thanks for reading and have a plantastic day!