Batch Cook Like a Boss
Say goodbye to sad desk lunch and overpriced takeout, thanks to Maria Marlowe.
Batch cooking is one of the latest habits to enamor the health-conscious. And with good reason—it saves you hours of time during the week and mountains of cash compared to ordering takeout, plus, you won’t ever have to scratch your head over “what to eat?” again.
What Is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking is simply the act of preparing and/or cooking larger portions of different foods, meant to be mixed and matched to create versatile meals throughout the week. It’s typically done on a Sunday, to prepare for the week ahead. It generally takes about one and a half to two hours on the weekend. When you are simply pulling out meals to reheat or put the finishing touches on your dish during the week, you’ll forget the time you spent cooking on Sunday and feel like you have a Fairy Food Mother coming to the rescue to save you from dreadful takeout.
What Batch Cooking Isn’t
No icky-leftovers here. Some fitness fanatics are notoriously known for eating endless amounts of chicken and broccoli but you don’t have to! You can batch cook and still have very versatile meals every day.
Batch Cooking Guidelines & Suggestions
There aren’t many rules when it comes to batch cooking, but there are a few things you should know:
Pre-Cook & Prepare Core Ingredients
You’ll save time during the week by having your core ingredients, particularly the ones that take a long time to cook on their own (for example, grains or roasted sweet potatoes), pre-made. I suggest the following guidelines to ensure variety so you don’t get bored:
- Roast or steam at least 3-4 veggies – to rotate
- Prepare at least two animal-based protein options, like eggs and fish
- Have at least two plant-protein options, like chickpeas and quinoa
- Soups and chili store well and are great for batch cooking
- Make or purchase at least 1-2 dressings or dips, which store well and jazz up your dishes. Think tahini dressing, hummus, pesto or olive tapenade
Dress Up Your Ingredients
You can use the same core ingredients to create a variety of different meals. Dress them up with different sauces, add-ons or combinations. For example, if you make large batches of broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, black beans and brown rice, one day you could quickly heat up a curry sauce and add them in for an Indian twist. Another night, you might stir fry them with garlic and ginger for a Chinese-inspired dish. A third night, you could give it Mexican flair by topping with salsa and guacamole. Same core ingredients, but three distinct meals.
Cook Fish When You’re Going to Eat it
Fish is generally best cooked fresh, as it doesn’t reheat well, although cooked fish served cold is delicious on a salad.
Quick-Cooking Veggies Can Still be Pre-Prepped
Some quick-cooking veggies, like chopped broccoli or sliced delicata squash, which only take about 20 minutes in the oven, and half that when steamed, can be pre-chopped on the weekend, but then roasted or prepared at the time
you want to eat them.
Don’t Forget Your Healthy Fats
Avocado, nuts, seeds and healthy oils should generally be added just before eating.
How to Batch Cook Like a Boss
1. Plan out your meals for the week
Decide which meals will be home cooked: All dinners? Only lunches? Or the whole shebang, with breakfast, lunch and dinner? You can either use the general guidelines above to mix and match veggies, proteins, healthy fats and grains or look for specific recipes. Generally, I like to make grab-and-go lunches that don’t require any additional cooking, while for dinner, I’ll cook recipes that take 20 minutes or less.
2. Make a grocery shopping list
Once you know what you’re going to make, create a list of all the items you will need. Do a quick scan of your kitchen, so you’re aware of what’s already on hand, and don’t buy anything you don’t need. You may want to pick up some extra fruit, veggies and dips for snacks.
3. Grocery shop
Head to the farmers market or grocery store on Saturday or early Sunday morning to pick up what you need. I highly recommend you get your fresh produce and animal products there, however, if you want to save some serious cash, purchase all your non-perishables online. My favorite online grocery store is Thrive Market, which I calculated saves me
over $1,500 a year!
4. Batch cook & prep
Sunday afternoon, turn up the Google Play Music or your favorite podcast, and start washing, chopping and cooking the things that will save well.
5. Reheat or put the finishing touches on during the week
Since you did the heavy lifting over the weekend, it’s smooth sailing during the week. Your meals should be ready to go, or quick to prepare.
6. Find something to do with all your newfound free time during the week
No more sweating over the stove for an hour after a long day at work. If you want to eat at delicious and nutritious meals at home more often, but would prefer all the planning be done for you, including laying out your meals for the week, itemized shopping lists and step-by-step batch cooking plans, check out my EatHEALTHY meal plans. Happy cooking!
Images courtesy of Maria Marlowe.