Put simply, batch cooking helps you save time, money and energy when it comes to getting creative in the kitchen.
If you aren’t so confident in the kitchen or love food but aren’t one of those people who want to spend half the night slaving away over the cooker, batch cooking is an incredibly easy way to help you save time, while also keeping track of what you’re putting in your body. Plus, with Christmas round the corner and another lockdown looming, it’s a great way to limit your spending.
Of course with another national lockdown on the way, supermarket shelves are looking a little sparse, diminishing by the day, but if you do manage to snag a bag of pasta or a pack tinned toms, put them to good use and knock up a bulk curry or chilli and freeze for a later date.
If you’re new to the batch cooking world, we’ve penned a few simple ways to help you with those few extra pennies, stay on top of your health and become a meal prepping maestro.
Prepare your ingredients before you start cooking
Once you’ve decided what it is you’re wanting to whip up or found a tempting recipe you’re eager to try, you’re going to want to prep your ingredients. From peeling the potatoes to chopping up your veggies, to even removing your ingredients from their packaging, all of this saves time when you actually have to get down to cooking everything. It’s also great if you’re less confident in the kitchen too as you won’t get so overwhelmed trying to multitask with different tasks all at once.
Make sure you’ve got a big enough pan
This seems like an obvious one but don’t make the mistake of trying to batch cook with a pot or pan that’s too small! It’ll only end badly and won’t leave you with the result you were hoping for.
Cook more than one dish at a time
If you’re a bulk cooking pro, save even more time and cook up more than one dish at a time. An easy way to do this is by chopping extra veggies, proteins and carbohydrates when you’re preparing and mixing up the flavours and spices when you’re cooking.
Use the same ingredients, but chop and change the spices. An easy example is making chilli and curry at the same time. Swap out the chilli mince for chicken or tofu in your curry, and use coconut milk instead of chopped tomatoes for your sauce (or don’t and make a tomato-based curry instead).
Invest in a solid selection of reusable containers
Don’t be that person who cooks up a mountain worth of food but forgets to buy reusable containers to store it in the fridge or freezer. Near enough every shop, supermarket and online store sells handy reusable containers for bargain prices and you needn’t fork out too because after all, they’ll just be stored away in your freezer until you’re ready to dive into your dish.
Pack them full of proteins
You can throw a pan of rice or pasta on when you’re heating everything through so when you’re cooking in bulk to freeze or refrigerate for a later date, pack each dish full of protein.
If you’re not confident enough to freeze meats once you’ve cooked them up, look to other high protein packed foods such as pulses, lentils and vegetarian meat substitutes. These often have higher protein content than your usual meat to fat ratio anyway, and will help you do your bit for the environment too.
Don’t skimp on the fresh veggies
Just like you’ll want protein rich batch dishes, you should also not skimp on the fresh veggies front. Prep them up just as you would usually and prep the dish as normal.
Freezing vegetables also helps to retain all of the important nutrients and flavour too, plus will help make sure you’re keeping on top of your five a day too.
Don’t forget you can also pack on extra fresh and uncooked vegetables on top of your dish at the end too, once it’s out of the freezer. It’ll help break up the rich sauces and add a burst of freshness to the dish. A squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice always helps too if you’re looking for something fresh and acidic to add.
Label your tubs before freezing
Keep on track of what you’ve got in your freezer and when it was cooked up by labelling your tubs before you pop them in the freezer. It’ll help you keep on track of what you’ve got and when ideally it needs to be eaten by.