Home cooks are always searching for ways to save time and money while never compromising deliciousness or nutrition. Fortunately, there is a system you can implement at home to accomplish all of these goals. It’s called batch cooking.
Just like it sounds, batch cooking means preparing larger portions of food to be consumed as-is or creatively combined into full meals. Professional cooks rely on this technique to maintain fresh ingredients, reduce waste and prepare dishes quickly and consistently. Once you understand the basics on how to buy, cook, and store prepared ingredients, those principles can be applied to almost any of your favorite meats, fish, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Your imagination and creativity will lead to endless possibilities and your midweek meals will be easier and more delicious than ever.
Start by using recipes that your family loves and listing all the ingredients necessary to prepare them. Think about how the ingredients overlap and which ones will require the largest purchases. Those items become your core ingredients and will be the building blocks for new recipes or creative combinations of ingredients you are prepping.
Use the Right Containers
Now that you have planned your weekly menu, time to go through your pantry and gather all of your containers. Do they all have lids? Are any stained, cracked, or chipped? Get rid of all damaged containers. Next, consider shape, material and volume. Do you have the right sized containers to store large batches? Glass and plastic containers are preferred as they come with airtight lids, sanitize easily, stack well, and can be used repeatedly. Avoid foil containers as you can’t put these in microwave ovens and they are typically not reusable. Plastic wrap is also essential to storing your ingredients, so make sure you have a fresh roll handy.
Every batch cooking recipe begins with, well, batch buying. Buying in bulk or large quantities is a great way to save a few bucks and make sure your pantry stays full. There’s nothing more annoying than discovering you don’t have enough supplies right in the middle of cooking. So go through the recipes you’re planning on cooking and make sure you have all the ingredients before you start.
When buying food in bulk, perishable items will need to be portioned, prepared, and stored as quickly as possible to maintain freshness. Grains, beans and rice, on the other hand, have a long shelf life. Cook these ahead of time.
Before you go wholesale check out these pro tips for handling bulk food items.
Consider Prep and Cooking Time
Time for the fun part! For all the working Mom’s and Dad’s out there, you will need to find some time to execute. Braised meats, “One Pot/Pan Wonders”, sheet-pan dinners, portioning whole fish into individual portions and pre-cooking vegetables all take time and require space to prep. Clear and sanitize all your work surfaces and make sure all containers are clean and ready to receive ingredients.
When it’s finally time to boil the water, fire up the burners, and preheat the oven, consider keeping your ingredients flavor-neutral to let your culinary creativity shine later in the week. For example, roast sweet potatoes only with oil, salt, and pepper. On Taco Tuesday, reheat with toasted cumin and ancho chili powder to make a Mexican feast. Thursday’s lunch may use the same sweet potatoes, but toss them in a Mediterranean salad with cut romaine hearts, diced tomatoes and cucumbers, crumbled feta cheese, and green goddess dressing, all prepped on Monday.
Prep Extra and Freeze
Remember, we’re not just cooking for one meal later in the week, this is a new way of thinking. Many staples freeze well, so double or triple the recipe and freeze it. Not only will you be able to use it for a single meal, but it will save you prep time during a busy schedule. Consider whole grains, quinoa, rice, soups, sauces, meatballs, muffins, biscuits, and waffles as excellent candidates for your freezer meal stash.
After freezing or refrigerating your meals or ingredients, now it’s time to eat. Frozen items will need some planning ahead as proper thawing methods are essential for safety. Never put a frozen dish in the oven (it will burn the outside and leave the inside cold) or leave a portioned steak on the counter all day. Holding foods between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time will increase your risk of contracting a food-borne illness. However, certain items like frozen pasta, rice, and vegetables can easily be reheated in pans or boiling water. Simply follow the recipes written by professionals and your family will be applauding your efforts.
Get the Best Ingredients at the Best Prices with Cheetah
Cooking in big batches is a great way to save both time and money. Avoid throwing away big batches of food because you bought low quality ingredients. Instead, use Cheetah for the highest quality restaurant food and supplies at wholesale prices. Download the app to get the best ingredients and get cooking!
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