Batch cooking is the name given to a method that proposes cooking in a few hours for the whole week, optimizing resources and cooking food to the maximum.
It could be translated and defined as the technique of cooking 'in batches', that is, devoting a determined and not excessive time, about two or three hours, to preparing different culinary preparations at the same time, which will result in varied dishes with which to have a weekly menu
The difference with meal prep is that in it the dishes are cooked and stored just as they are going to be consumed on the projected day. Batch cooking refers to cooking food to make it ready to eat, albeit separately. Large batches of, say, caramelized onions, boiled vegetables, or meats are then cooked, then put together different foods to assemble dishes.
ADVANTAGES OF BATCH COOKING
This practical way of cooking requires planning and organization, which allows you to optimize the time you spend in the kitchen and take advantage of its advantages and benefits, which are numerous and interesting:
Batch cooking allows you to follow a healthy and balanced diet because it is not about cooking 'anything' but different dishes that contain ingredients that provide the three essential macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Regardless of the rhythm of the day, you will always have all your meals planned and it will be faster and easier to assemble your plate.
YOU SAVE TIME
Contrary to what many people think that more time is spent cooking, it is quite the opposite. It is true that you will spend a couple of hours in the kitchen on the day you allocate to make all the preparations, but once you have organized the menu and acquired the necessary ingredients, you can cook several preparations at the same time, reducing the dedication to food in the later days.
In the end, if you compare the time you spend cooking in batches, it is much less than if you had to cook a different dish every day. You will have all the meals of the week prepared in advance only to defrost or heat.
YOU SAVE MONEY
You will know what you are going to cook and, therefore, you will buy only the ingredients that you need. It is also about taking advantage of everything you have at home and getting the most out of it. With the planning that you must do for the weekly menu, you will not be tempted to eat out or order food at home, without taking into account the savings in gas or energy when cooking several dishes at the same time, for example, using the oven or taking advantage of the residual heat from the first cooking to start the second.
YOU AVOID FOOD WASTE
Thanks to the planning you must do for batch cooking, this will help you buy only the food and the amount necessary to avoid throwing food away. By having the exact portions of each ingredient you will cook the right amounts without having excess food, preventing food waste.
Batch cooking is a good ally when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight because it allows you to control the amounts of food. Even if you eat away from home, you have the option of taking your homemade recipes in a tupperware.
How to Batch Cook?
1. PLAN THE MENU:
The first thing to do is plan the menu, buy everything you need and allocate a day for the preparation of all the preparations. To plan the menu, consider adding ingredients from each food group and the recommended portions weekly to have a balanced diet.
A good way to understand proper portion sizes is to apply the “divided plate” idea.
- One quarter (1 section) of the plate is for protein.
- One quarter (1 section) of the plate is for starches (like potatoes and corn) and grains, preferably whole grains (like brown rice and whole wheat bread).
- Half of the plate (2 sections) is for vegetables (or fruits and vegetables).
2. READ YOUR RECIPES BEFORE:
So that you don't get surprises on the day of preparation while reading your recipes, read them again beforehand and check if you need preparations prior to cooking day, for example, if you have legumes on your weekly menu such as beans or chickpeas that must be soaked from the night before.
3. ALLOCATE A DAY FOR COOKING:
The best thing is to prepare your menu during the weekend, since it is the moment in which you will have more free time to calmly prepare the food of the whole week.
4. GET ORGANIZED IN THE KITCHEN:
Getting the most out of your time in the kitchen is the idea of batch cooking, so having good utensils and having them ready before you start is important.
Optimize your resources. If you are going to cook, put water to heat while you cut the ingredients. You are going to use all the available fires to go twice or triple as fast, use the rack and the oven trays to make several preparations at the same time, without forgetting the different cooking that you can do, microwave, electric grill or deep fryer to name a few appliances. The idea is that they work at the same time, allowing you to make several recipes together.
Take advantage of this day to leave the largest number of preparations ready, we are not referring only to cooking, for example, while your protein is in the oven you can optimize the time to wash, cut and slice the vegetables for the week's salads, you can leave the stews or sauces that accompany the pasta ready or leave the fish filleted.
5. SAVE IT IN CONTAINERS:
The last step and perhaps the most important of all, is the correct storage and conservation of the preparations. You can store each food group hermetically separately, either in individual tupperware for each day or a large tupperware where you take out small amounts as you prepare your dishes.
Let it cool down before putting it in the fridge. If you do it in zip bags, extract the air well before closing it.
Even if you freeze food, be aware that it also has an expiration date, so try to use it within 3 months. When defrosting it, do it with enough time so as not to break the cold chain.
OPTIONS FOR MAKING BATCH COOKING
The essence of batch cooking is to save time by preparing 2-3 protein, carbohydrate and vegetable options separately and then combining them at the time of consumption to create new dishes quickly and easily. Here are some preparation options that will give you an idea of how easy it is to put together a batch cooking menu.
CREAMS AND SOUPS: Creams and soups are very easy to make and can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week. At the time of consumption you can heat them in a small pot or you can even have them ready in less than 5 minutes by taking them to the microwave.
PROTEIN: Proteins of animal origin such as beef, fish or chicken, it is recommended not to cook them until the day of their consumption. On the day you allocate to make your batch cooking preparations, take advantage of it to fillet, cut and leave the daily portions of protein in separate containers and leave them frozen
SIDE DISHES: Foods like potatoes, rice, quinoa can be cooked, frozen and reheated without much change in texture, pasta is a bit more delicate but can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 day and then reheated.
SALAD: You can store the vegetables in the fridge in individual containers, previously washed and cut to prepare a delicious salad instantly. It is recommended not to store them with dressings, add them until the last moment.
DRESSINGS AND SAUCES: The dressings and sauces serve to differentiate the flavors in your menu and do not feel that you are eating the same thing every day, you can add them to salads, pastas or sandwiches. Tomato-based sauces can be easily frozen and reheated in a pot or in the microwave, vinaigrettes can be kept for 5 to 7 days, while mayonnaise-based dressings last an estimated 3 to 5 days.
I hope that today's blog will help you learn about the advantages of Batch Cooking, have a more balanced diet and spend less time in the kitchen.