How to Batch Cook for Busy Weeks: A Comprehensive Guide to Meal Prep
Published Feb 20, 2023 • By Rahul Roy
With the increasingly hectic professional and personal lives people lead in this fast-moving world, batch cooking as a concept is becoming increasingly popular. Time is of the essence, and this method is a great way to enjoy healthy home cooked meals without needing to cook every night.
But what is batch cooking? What is so beneficial about it? Why is it becoming so popular?
We discuss this in our article!
We consume food every day, but the food we consume on a regular basis varies depending on time, money, convenience and our health goals. In the past, eating good healthy food was associated with spending each day in the kitchen, preparing fresh meals, which can be difficult to do, especially in today’s time and age.
What we feed our body is essential for our health and ultra processed foods run the risk of restricting the body from receiving all the nutrients it requires.
What is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking is a cooking technique in which large quantities of food are cooked in one session and portioned out into individual meals for convenience. The meals can then be eaten throughout the week or frozen for later use. Batch cooking can save time and money and is a great way to make sure you are eating healthy, home-cooked meals.
It is also called meal prep, and is often confused as something associated with fitness enthusiasts. It is a food creation and storage option that is accessible to all with numerous health and time benefits.
It has been gaining increasing attention in recent years. It’s usage especially skyrocketing in the US and also during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What are the steps for Batch Cooking?
The first step towards batch cooking is having an idea of the dishes to cook for the week, taking into consideration the ingredients needed, the tastes of the individual and the health goals targeted. An ideal batch cooking diet would be to include a dish that has a balanced diet composed of a healthy ratio of protein, carbs, sugars, fibres, healthy fats and other essential nutrients. Choose meals that are similar enough to warrant a lot of shared ingredients but different enough to taste different. It is also important to keep track of the ingredients at home and the others needed to purchase from the supermarket. The number of portions based on portion sizes must be planned too, so as to maximize efficiency and minimize the time spent on cooking.
Purchase the ingredients needed for the meals planned. Try to use fresh ingredients as much as possible when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Be mindful if the products in the pantry are past their expiration date and buy products with a longer expiration period as it will help maintain its freshness for longer. Try to be precise with the quantity of ingredients purchased. If possible, carry your own bags to be more eco-friendly.
Start prepping before you begin cooking, by washing all the fresh ingredients and chopping all the vegetables and meat appropriately as per the recipe. If needed, marinate the meat a few hours before cooking. Put the water to boil if the recipe requires it, when beginning the chopping of ingredients, to be more efficient with time. Don’t forget to season and pay close attention to the time when cooking the food, especially on a stove or in the oven. Music while cooking can often calm the nerves and even improve the experience for some people. Try not to reuse the same pans without washing for different dishes, for hygiene purposes. And if possible, enjoy the cooking process.
Once the meals are ready, it is time to pack them into containers or boxes for storage and consumption later. After the food has cooled down, move it into appropriately sized containers based on portion size to defrost only what is necessary to consume at any point of time. Practice caution when choosing the containers so that the containers are not only airtight and helps preserve food but can is also microwave friendly. To be even more organized, it helps to label the containers with the dish it contains.
Now comes the best part, which is eating! Safely defrost the food in the microwave and enjoy your meals for the rest of the week, with enough variety in the choices to keep you satisfied and healthy, while also saving time.
What are the benefits of Batch Cooking?
Helps reduce time spent cooking
Batch cooking helps save a ton of time, which can be spent on being productive or being with family or friends. It prevents the headache of cooking every day after work or school, and although the batch cooking in itself will take a lot of time and energy, the time freed up for the rest of the week, more than makes up for the effort. It is super quick to reheat the food too and will make you less dependent on food delivery applications.
Helps reduce meal costs
Generally buying food in bulk is cheaper than buying food in small portions everyday. Batch cooking also reduces the tendency to order food online or eat out at a restaurant, therefore saving more money. On average, at least 2 times more money is saved by batch cooking than purchasing food from outside.
Eat healthier meals
Since you know exactly what goes into the meals, it is possible to eat without concerns about how it could affect the health negatively. Based on the recipes and choice of ingredients, it is possible to curate the meals exactly how the person likes it to be, making it as healthy an option possible. It is a simple solution to have access to healthy meals that are ready to eat in a short period of time by reheating them.
Less likely to waste food
Batch cooking helps to ensure the right portion sizes so that there will not be any food wastage after consumption. Proper planning is essential to facilitate efficiency and since the food will be stored in the freezer, the meals will last for a long period of time.
Variety of food
Batch cooking can help you add variety to your diet. You can plan meals that incorporate a variety of flavors, colors, and nutrients. It also reduces stress from thinking about what to eat for that day and will even keep you excited to eat the meal too!
It is also important to consider some cons that are associated with batch cooking namely that it can be time and effort consuming to prepare all the food in one go, it could be more difficult for individuals with smaller kitchens and freezers, and cleaning after the cooking might seem like a chore. But in the long term, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Batch cooking has taken the world by storm and it is quite easy to see why it has become so popular. Just allotting one evening or afternoon per week, will keep your food needs satisfied for the rest of the week and maybe even longer. Moreover, you will get to eat healthy and tasty food without spending more money or feeling guilty about indulging in unhealthy food.
If batch cooking is still a mystery to you, don't worry! Just think of it as the culinary equivalent of the riddle of the sphinx: it may seem complicated, but it is totally worth figuring out.
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