In the midst of being a super busy mom, you’ve no doubt been lured by the possibility of saving time in the kitchen through meal prep or batch cooking. Whether or not you’ve tried it is another story. I’m here to tell you: DO IT!!
Meal planning saves me loads of time, sure. But batch cooking, whether slow cooker batch cooking or just bulk cooking things that go in the oven, saves me so much time it’s silly. My philosophy is always to figure out how to find the magic ✨ middle where we merge healthy with efficient so we can make prioritizing our health doable. So as long as you’re choosing healthy recipes to batch cook, you’re golden.
So let’s dive into all the little ditty details of batch cooking, how it can save you loads of time, and why should start now.
What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking can be called many things these days. Sometimes it’s called meal prep batch cooking, batching, bulk cooking, and some even refer to it as cook once eat twice, cook once eat all week, that sort of thing.
But the general idea is that you cook a lot of something. This can be either a lot of one ingredient to be used in many meals, several of the same recipe to be used later, or 2-3 sets of several recipes, all to be cooked later.
My two favorite ways to take advantage of the time-saving benefits of meal prep batch cooking is to designate one day a month or quarter to batch cook a whole bunch of freezer meals that can be thrown in the slow cooker on super busy mornings, or to batch cook meals for the week. This means choosing up to six meals that either all have the same protein prepared the same way, or I’ll split the recipes into two different types of protein and batch cook the proteins and chop and bag the veggies one on meal prep day at the start of the week.
Is batch cooking cheaper?
I dare to say yes, you’ll save money batch cooking. Here’s why.
1- You’re usually using a recipe that has individual ingredients, so you can control the cost of those. Meaning, if there’s seasonal produce vs something out of season, you can choose to use or not use that recipe at that given time.
2- If you’re buying the ingredients separately, you usually buy a large box, can, or package of it. Which is usually thought of as buying in bulk and tends to be cheaper anyway. It all comes down to the fact that you pay extra for ingredients to be mixed together for you already. Think about how expensive one pre-made meal is in the freezer section at the store.
3- When you already have dinner done, even if it’s in the freezer, you don’t eat out.
What can I cook in bulk?
There are several different types of foods you can cook in bulk, so let’s break them down a bit.
Proteins: Chicken, ground beef or turkey, pork, other cuts of beef. I wouldn’t pre-cook fish, but shrimp is usually available pre-cooked and frozen at the store, so I’d recommend just buying that frozen instead.
Vegetables: Most veggies can be cooked in bulk. I would consider this though: When you can things, you only really blanch the vegetable, not fully cook it. So this may be a consideration before cooking vegetables if storing in the freezer.
Breads: Dough (unrisen), muffins, scones, biscuits, etc. are great to cook in bulk and pop in the freezer for later.
Eggs: You can easily bulk cook eggs (boiled style) in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, cook large amounts of scrambled eggs, or fry up as many eggs as your skillet can handle. All of these can be stored in the fridge a few days, or you can store in the freezer for later, up to 3 months. And if you’re trying to batch them as a separate ingredient for cooking or baking later, you can either crack eggs into a muffin tin, flash freeze then store in the freezer in a freezer bag; whisk together and store the mixture in a freezer bag; or even separate the whites and yolks and store separately in the freezer for later. (Don’t ever freeze in the shell–the insides will expand, which is no bueno.)
Grains: Rice, quinoa, and other small grains cook up and store in the fridge a few days or freeze just fine.
Apart from these individual ingredients, it’s super easy and convenient to bulk cook things like soups, stews, chilis, casseroles, lasagna, meat with sauce (think spaghetti or even tacos), and fillings for things to pop in the fridge or freezer for later.
My number one recommendation would be to make a list of your family staple recipes you eat often, and make those sauces or casseroles, etc in bulk and store in the freezer for the month until you need them. That’s a sure way to get dinner done quick that you know everyone will love.
How do you store batch cooking?
This really depends on your reason for batching. If you’re just cooking for the week, storing it in the fridge is fine for several days. But if it’s for longer, it should go in the freezer.
This doesn’t hold true, though, if you’re batch prepping mixes for things like muffins, trail mix, or that sort of thing. If it’s a dry mix it should store fine in a dark and cool pantry. This is still something that many put in the freezer if they have room, though. It’s supposed to help the flours and other ingredients from going stale or rancid. And usually doesn’t need to be ‘thawed’ since it’s dry.
What meals can I batch cook and freeze?
I don’t really believe there is one perfect meal that you could batch cook and freeze. But that’s awesome, because it means there are several types of freezer meals you can batch cook! Here’s a rundown:
Casseroles, soups, bakes, sheet-pan dinners, smoothies or smoothie mixes, stews, meats with marinades, slow cooker or crockpot meals, and any of the others listed above (breads, muffins, grains, etc).
✔ Ready to give meal prep batch cooking a go? Get started with the one-week meal plan! 👇
Have you given batch cooking a go yet? Let me know your biggest challenge in the comments below!
And SHARE this article with anyone else who may be interested in saving HOURS every week by meal prep batch cooking! 💕