My secret to spending less time in the kitchen and saving money...BATCH COOKING!
So, listen, I haven't always done this. It's only been within the past couple of years that I've implemented batch cooking into our routine. And it's been a game changer!
I AM, however, a self-proclaimed meal planning pro - seriously, meal planning is something I've done religiously for us since nutrition school and something I think is absolutely crucial in maintaining your healthy eating goals.
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For me, lunches were my downfall and the reason I needed to start batch cooking. I found myself struggling with lunch ideas. I didn't have any leftovers and I would rely on whatever food was currently in the house. This meant more time being spent in the kitchen or money being unnecessarily spent on lunches out. I found myself feeling frustrated and on busy days searching for quick and convenient foods such as toast or pasta. My lunches often involved carbs and lacked veggies and protein. Things needed to change.
Batch cooking does not need to be time consuming or labour intensive.
My two go-to methods for batch cooking:
1. Double up on dinners. Depending on the number of mouths you have to feed, you may want to triple your portions for dinner. Doing this will yield enough for leftovers for lunch or another dinner. Many of my clients prefer this method because they're already in the kitchen preparing dinner anyway, so they may as well make extra.
2. Choose a meal prep day where you can batch cook a few things. This option, depending on how much you make ahead really helps cut down on how much time you have to spend in the kitchen. Essentially you could have all your meals/snacks prepared in advance which is amazing. But this method does require you to put aside a few hours.
I like to incorporate both methods and it's really quite simple actually, here's what I do:
If you're choosing method #1, easy! Simply double up on your portions and make plenty. This will mean planning ahead and buying a few more groceries. But you'll always have a meal or two for the day after.
If you're choosing method #2, look ahead on your meal plan and see what items you'll need. Chances are you will need things like:
GRAINS: Cook up grains like quinoa, brown/wild rice, millet, etc. store in an air tight container or mason jar until you’re ready to use. Grains can remain refrigerated for up to 4 days.
PROTEIN: You may find many of your recipes call for things like chicken. It may be wise to roast/grill a few chicken breasts to help save you time later in the week. That way you can easily cut/shred them for things like salad, grains, wraps, etc.
BREAKFAST: If you’re like me, breakfast usually consists of smoothies. If you’re on-the-go and often rushed it might be best to smoothie prep: buy large freezer size baggies. Decide how many days you’ll be having a smoothie and pull that many freezer bags. In each freezer bag, add all smoothie ingredients EXCEPT the liquid. Refrigerate the smoothie bags that you’ll be consuming within the next day or two and freeze the rest. On smoothie days, all you’ll have to do is dump the contents of the bag into your blender with your liquid & blitz. It’s a time saver on days you’re super rushed.
SNACKS: I like to prep a large batch of homemade trail mix that consists of raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dairy free chocolate chips for the week. I store it in a large tupperware for easy access. Depending on the week, I also like to whip up a large batch of chia seed pudding, roasted chickpeas, fresh hummus and energy bites. It makes reaching for a healthy snack much easier.
Every salad, wrap & bowl of grains needs a great dressing! Prepare one ahead of time, store in a mason jar in the refrigerator. Voila! Your secret weapon to make dinners & leftovers taste amazing is ready to go!
You'll need extra tupperware in the house and/or glass mason jars.
Batch cooking will:
Save you time
Save you money
Help you to eat healthier
Help you to avoid eating out
Take the guess work out of what to eat