People ask me how I meal prep. Then people will subsequently tell me they don’t have time to meal prep. I am here to say “yes, you do have time.” Batch cook. It is a form of meal prep. It is a really simple form of meal prep. Cooking up extra food doesn’t take anymore prep time, cooking time, or cleaning time then what you already have planned for that day.
How to do it
Pick an ingredient and cook up extra. It takes no more time to cook up two pounds of meat vs. one pound of meat. Are you cooking one sweet potato? Cook two. Or three. Or more. Then the meat and sweet potatoes can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in the days that follow. Another batch cooking method…just make extra dinner. Plan for left overs.
Keep it the same or make it different?
You can keep your meals the same in the days that follow or, what I happen to love about batch cooking, you can morph those ingredients into different meals. I happen to thrive off of variety. My husband prefers monotony. I can take that already made meat and add other items to it (like guacamole and salsa) for lunch and my husband can take that same meat and eat it plain with a salad for lunch.
Batch cooking forces me to get creative with my meals and I have found it reduces food waste in our household. Food is expensive and I want to eat everything I batch cook. I batch cook enough food for 3 days at a time. This amount minimizes waste in our household. If I find I can’t possibly consume all the batch cooked food then I will freeze it.
Give batch cooking a try!
Batch cooking allows me to turn the cooked ingredients waiting for me in my fridge into delicious, healthy meals and snacks in a very quick manner that fits our whole food life style. My husband is a paramedic. I am an ER nurse. I work varying shifts throughout the week. I will work a mid-shift one day followed by a night shift followed by 3 hours of sleep after my night shift. Do I want to cook on 3 hours of sleep? No, but I still want to eat healthy.
Batch cooking to the rescue!
Have meat and veggies already made? Throw the meat and veggies in a bowl, reheat, and cook up fresh eggs to put on top. Bam! Breakfast in five minutes! Home by yourself? Put that meat on a salad for lunch or dinner. Ta-da! Lunch or dinner made in 5 minutes! Side note…when you make a salad, make extra. It will be fresh for at least 3 days (in my experience).
What I made this week
I have a busy house hold. When I batch cook it is not complicated. Here is what I made this past week.
One morning I cooked up extra breakfast sausage and extra veggies.
The next evening I cooked up a big batch of bone-in country pork ribs. Country pork ribs are an inexpensive cut of pork and are well suited to braising, slow-cooking, and pressure-cooking. My local grocery store had this already economical cut on sale. Yes! Happy wallet! I also spiralized way more sweet potato then I needed. Sweet potato noodles save really well and cook up fast on the stove top, oven, or microwave.
I used half the pork for dinner that night and saved the other half to use over the next few days. Dinner provided left overs which my husband and I made into breakfast the next day. The other half of the pork was used in lunch, dinner, and snacks over the next few days. And those veggies I batch cooked one morning for breakfast? Those wound up in dinner one night too. I needed to finish them before they went bad.
I didn’t batch cook much this past week but what I did cook made the rest of my week much more convenient and healthy. I find that when I have food ready to eat in the fridge I don’t reach for packaged, processed snack foods during the day if I am hungry. I reach for that meat I have cooked up instead. I don’t find myself making excuses to eat dinner out anymore when I am super busy either. Why go out to dinner when you have the makings of a complete, quick meal already to go in the fridge?
Hopefully this post gave you some ideas about how you can start batch cooking in your own kitchen and how you can apply the concept to your own uniquely busy life.