What is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking (bulk cooking) is the process of having one big preparation and cooking session built into your week, whereby you prepare a number of dishes In Advance. It’s one of the “big four” ways of putting dinner on the table (the others being Quick and Easy, No Cook and Low and Slow).
The idea is that it saves you from having to cook from scratch every night of the week; basically, you’re creating your own ready meals!
Once you’ve batch cooked, you have the choice of either putting the food into your fridge – if you’re going to be using it within the next few days – or storing it in the freezer, in which case you’ve got a whole arsenal of Freezer Meals as a long-term backup.
Why do I need to try it?
There are a whole host of reasons why you might like to try batch cooking:
#1 if you have a home-cooked meal already prepared then you are less likely to skip dinner;
#2 you can ensure that the meal is healthy, rather than grabbing a takeaway or some fast food – great if you follow a particular diet;
#3 by eating in, you save money on emergency meals;
#4 by planning your batch cooking in advance, you can take advantage of bulk-buy offers (e.g. you can use that whole family-sized bag in one go);
#5 you save time in the week by not having to cook from scratch;
#6 no more asking “what’s for dinner?” as it’s all there for you ready!;
#7 no more mad dashed to the store for forgotten ingredients
#8 you can eat something that the whole household will enjoy;
#9 you can build in nights to try new recipes;
#10 you only have to chop and wash up once!
I also like that batch cooking allows you more flexibility around your busy schedule. By storing meals in advance, you can grab them if your schedule changes – which, if it’s anything like mine, it does a lot!
How to make it easy as pie
Choose recipes that share commonalities: common ingredients, common cooking methods or common cooking temperatures. It’s extremely easy to cook two beef casseroles at the same time – perhaps a beef curry and a beef bourgignon – as you can chop the meat once, put it in two separate casserole dishes with different flavourings and cook the two side by side in the oven.
Make a list before you start of all the meals you would like to batch cook and work out how many different ingredients/items you need to prepare (if you haven’t tried meal planning before, then it’s definitely worth giving it a go as it can save you a lot of stress in the kitchen). Then, chop all your onions at once and divide them into the relevant piles, chop all the peppers together, all the meat together etc. It’s much easier than doing one dish at a time.
Better yet, invite some friends around a make it a batch-cooking party!
Ready to give it a go?
Before you start, check out my Top Tips for Batch Cooking.