Eating healthy sounds really good in theory but it can be tough in practice. Whether you’re flooded at work, hitting the books, raising a family, taking care of aging parents (or all of the above), it’s hard to find the time to cook twenty-one healthy whole food plant-based meals a week. Even if you have the time, you may not want to spend it all in the kitchen.
So does your health have to take a back seat just because you're not up for cooking every day? Not at all. Enter batch cooking. It’s just what it sounds like - cooking in large batches.
Why would you want to cook in large batches?
Don’t really like cooking or squeezed for time? With batch cooking, you cook a lot of food once so you can have quick and easy healthy meals throughout the week. You can focus on fewer recipes and spend less time in the kitchen and more time with family and friends.
Think dicing 2-3 times as many veggies as you normally would sounds like a lot? It’s time to pull out your food processor. This quantity of food finally tips the scale of energy it takes to chop vs. energy it takes to clean your kitchen appliance. Almost any vegetable can be chopped, diced, or minced in a processor, but avoid softer produce like tomatoes, greens, peaches, bananas, and avocados. This simple change will save you a significant chunk of time in the long run. If you don’t have a food processor, some say chopping and peeling can be meditative.
Now that you’re cooking in bulk, it’s time to buy in bulk. Not only will you save money on your produce, but you’ll also reduce the amount wasteful packaging that buying in small portions creates. And by all means, freeze your leftovers! By freezing leftovers you will reduce your amount of weekly food waste. Each American household wastes up to $2,200 of food each year. Yikes. Batch cooking can help you significantly reduce this unnecessary cost.
Ok, so you get the gist of WHY it’s time to start batch cooking. Now you're probably wondering how the heck you get started, right? There are two types of batch cooking, really:
This is best for long term, ready-to-eat foods. It's a great alternative to takeout and TV dinners. Next time you make your favorite lemon lentil soup or chickpea veggie patties, double or even triple the recipe. Save a few servings to eat throughout the week, and freeze the rest in single portions.
Don’t freeze the entire batch together. You will end up chipping away the portion you want from a frozen mass, or defrosting more food than you can eat. There are a few different methods you can use to freeze your dish in single portions.
Best for short term. And it gives you room for creativity. This batch cooking strategy works best on a week-to-week basis. Here's how it works:
In the end, batch cooking is about taking a few hours a week to prepare healthy meals so you can then take it easy the rest of the week. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation in our private Facebook group for whole food plant-based beginners.
By Caroline DiNcola Fawley
Some plant-based newbies find that their food waste increases as they ramp up the number of fruits and veggies they eat. Here are our tips for using your fruits and veggie from root to stem.