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In the Kitchen with Caitlin—Batch Cooking

Posted by Caitlin Quinn Dunn, MS, RD, LDN on Sep 8, 2017 12:15:00 PM

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Like most people, I need every minute I can spare, and batch cooking allows me to significantly cut down on the time it takes to prepare meals.  Instead of dinner prep taking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, I can have a nutritious and delicious dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less!  Batch cooking can also help you to stay on track with your health goals.

Hi everyone, thank you for checking out another installment of In the Kitchen with Caitlin.  I’m going to switch things up a bit today and focus on a meal preparation technique that I find very useful—batch cooking.  Batch cooking is when you set aside one to two hours each week to prepare meals or parts of meals to be eaten throughout the week.  These foods don’t need to be frozen because you will be eating them in the coming days.  Typically batch cooking is done on the day you do your grocery shopping for the week so that you can prepare the foods even before putting them away.

Wondering how to incorporate some batch cooking techniques into your routine?  Give these suggestions a try!

Breakfast Batch Cooking

If finding time to eat breakfast in the morning is your greatest challenge, you can use batch cooking to prepare breakfast meals that simply need to be reheated or assembled in the morning.

There’s very little that you need to get started, but some supplies that may be helpful are food storage containers, sheet pans, and resealable plastic bags. Here are some easy ways to get started:

Smoothies—Put smoothie ingredients into large resealable bags and store in freezer for when you need them.  Or, make a large batch of smoothies and store in freezable cups.  Simply put one in the refrigerator to thaw overnight so it’s ready in the morning. 

Baked oatmealI make double batches of this recipe often!

EggsA breakfast favorite in my house, we always have these mini frittatas on hand ready in seconds after popping in the microwave. This is also a great way to use up leftover vegetables.

FruitEven just washing and cutting fresh fruit when you bring it home can be a huge time saver.  I keep a bowl of fruit salad in the fridge to add to yogurt, or even just to snack on. 

Seed Granola—This recipe makes 20 servings, and stores really well.  You can add to yogurt or eat as a cereal. 

 

Lunch and Dinner Batch Cooking

If finding the time to prepare a nutritious lunch or dinner is your greatest challenge, you can use batch cooking to prepare sides or main dishes that require a simple re-heat when you’re ready to eat. 

VegetablesA garden salad can be served as a side or as the main meal if you add some protein. I make a large batch of salads each week.  Roasted vegetables are another staple in my house, I select three vegetables each week, and roast them all together. These vegetables can be reheated throughout the week as sides, added to soups and pasta dishes, or even turned into sauces like this roasted red pepper sauce.

Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s installment of In the Kitchen with Caitlin where I take a deeper dive into batch cooking with vegetables.

ProteinsBaked or grilled chicken breast is a great protein to make ahead because it can be used in so many different ways.  Whether it’s on a salad, as part of a sandwich or as part of a stir fry, there are so many possibilities it’s difficult to get bored.  Ground meat is another great option to cook ahead to add to sauces, chili, and casseroles. 

StarchesWhole grains are a great addition to meals but can take 30 minutes or more to cook.  To save time, I pick one whole grain like wild rice, quinoa, or barley and cook a large batch that I can store in the fridge for the week.  That way I can heat up what I need as a side dish, or even eat it cold as part of a salad.  Now, instead of taking 30 minutes to cook a grain each night, I can have an individual portion ready in 30 seconds! 

If the thought of preparing all of these things is intimidating, start by choosing one and slowly add to your batch cooking routine over time.  Before you know it, you’ll have a system in place that makes meal planning and prep a fast and enjoyable experience.

See you in the kitchen!

In good health,
Caitlin

Topics: Health and Wellness