A few weeks ago I taped myself cooking our 7 meals for the week in one hour (you can watch it here).
The feedback was awesome (thank you so much!) and a recurring question from watchers was about my batch cooking… of ingredients!
Scheduled batch cooking of ingredients is one of the ways you can make your “cook day” (and your healthy lifestyle) so much easier.
For example, once a month I cook a huge batch of rice -- I’m talking the entire bag.
I’ll portion it off into 1 and 2 cups, then freeze. This means I have rice on the ready all month.
Whether I need rice to make a recipe or I want rice to go with my work lunch, I need a fast snack, OR a simple side to go with our dinner... I’m only a minute away.
Cooking all our meals for the week in one shot is the ONLY way to ensure my family will get a healthy, home cooked meal.
Our weeknights are just too busy for cooking and competing schedules make it hard to have a sit down dinner anyway. (I faithfully use the meal plans, the new and improved prep sheet makes things so ridiculously easy now).
BUT I was still relying on canned beans, bottled marinara sauce, commercial hummus and so forth to get me through it.
I knew they weren’t as healthy or cheap as homemade, but when it was already a challenge to cook AT ALL… I did the best I could…
UNTIL I developed this little habit that made scratch batch cooking a breeze.
Once a month I make huge batches of the following:
- beans (various)
- marinara sauce
But here’s the real secret: I DON’T DO IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Or on my “cooking day” !
Instead I do it in a revolving cycle.
I picked weeknights where I know I’ll be home (i.e. not on Wednesday when I have a late class, or Fridays when I tend to have plans). If something comes up those nights, I move it to another night.
AND it’s done PASSIVELY while I’m doing something else such as laundry, work, or SLEEP.
For example, last week I dumped all the marinara sauce ingredients into my slow cooker before bed.
When I woke up, my marinara was done. I turned the machine off and went to work.
Later that night I poured the marinara into my freezer containers while doing my post dinner clean-up. 2 minutes and I was done.
I now have marinara for the entire month (or longer).
Similarly, I cooked an entire bag of beans in my pressure cooker last night while doing laundry and watching TV with my husband.
Put ‘em in my PC, turned it on, went about my chores and boob-tubing.
By the time my laundry was done, so were my beans, so I shuffled them off into their containers, stuck them in the fridge and freezer, then went to bed.
All these things take 7-10 minutes total
The trick is to do them when you’re doing other things.
For example, this morning I put potatoes in my pressure cooker before leaving for the day.
I cooked the entire bag.
I’ll then put them in the fridge when I get home tonight.
We’ll have ready, cooked potatoes on hand that we can reheat quickly as a snack, take out the door with us, take on our Sunday hike, or to go with our meals later.
AND SOMETIMES by the time the next “turn” rolls around, I still have beans or chili or marinara (etc.) left from the previous month, so I COULD skip it or do something else.
Bottom Line: Once I got in the habit of doing these little batch cooks midweek, it became as routine as changing the sheets on my bed or brushing my teeth.
(I also do this mini “batching” with my household chores, since a big cleaning day is not how I like to spend my weekends)
Sundays = linen + dust, Tuesdays = wipe surfaces/sweep, Thursdays = clothes laundry, Saturdays = clean bathrooms
Yes it takes a little bit extra time, but it really is worth it to get yourself on a batch schedule.
I’m a total crazy person working 70+ hours a week, while also taking classes, keeping house, taking care of and feeding my family, a bazillion chores and to-do’s, yoga (6x a week) for therapy, social obligations out the wazoo, and beyond.
SO I GET IT.
(Oh how I get it!)
It’s crazy crunch time ALL THE TIME here too, but batch cooking like a boss has helped in ENORMOUS ways.
Not only have it saved me time (and money), and made sure my family keeps eating healthy, it has taken a LOAD of stress off.
I’m 1000x less stressed using the meal plans -- just having that plan in place is so calming.
Not having to think about what’s for dinner, already having that shopping list prepared for me and a menu selected… the reduction of my stress levels and time saved is worth the price of admission.
Batch cooking ingredients has only made it even better on my brain because I know, come hell or high water, at least there are beans and rice in the freezer to eat (heat in 1 minute!), or there’s marinara (and I can boil some spaghetti), or we can eat chili and some baked potatoes --- something that is just as fast as take-out (actually, FASTER!) but way better for us. It’s THERE.
I can’t keep up with my demanding schedule on junky foods, and I fall victim to temptation and eating out far too easy…
I just can’t scream enough how much cooking ahead and batching has changed my life.
I really hope after this post you’ll give it a TRY!
AAAND to encourage you a bit more, I’m having a little live web event TOMORROW.
I’ll show you some of my batch cooking, how I organize it and so forth :D
(Note: Email/event link will be sent out at 10am PST/1pm EST tomorrow -- 1 hour before the event)