What is batch cooking? We walk you through what it is and how to use it to boost kitchen efficiency without boring meals.
I'm the kind of person who totally geeks out on organizational systems and efficiency hacks. Nothing makes me happier than finding a way I can get more done, without working harder. Perhaps this is why I'm so in love with batching!
Whether you're like me and love “life hacks” like this or you're simply desperate to spend less time in the kitchen, batch cooking can save you a ton of time! These tips are great if you're looking for batching for beginners or if you're a batching veteran looking for some new recipes to mix it up.
What is batch cooking?
Batching is when you perform a bunch of a similar task at the same time, creating efficiency gains. For example, you might batch your email. This would mean you go through your email all at once, once a day. This is so much more efficient than stopping whatever you're doing every time an email comes in!
The same concept can be applied in the kitchen. Batch cooking is when you make a larger quantity of food, saving some for later. For most recipes, it does not take much longer to make a double batch. Then, instead of making a complete, from-scratch dinner every night, at least part of the meal will already be done. Trust me, this is an amazing feeling!
Batching Tips – How to Keep it Interesting
So batching sounds pretty amazing, right? Who doesn't want to get more done in almost the same amount of time?
It is amazing…but it can also be boring.
Some people like to use batching to make their entire week's meals. For example, they might grill a ton of chicken breast on the weekend to eat all week long. Or, they might make a double batch of lasagna and eat if for dinner every night that week.
There's nothing wrong with this strategy if it works for you! If you're like me though and get sick of eating the same thing over and over again, I've got tips for you. This is how I like to batch so that it never gets boring:
- Alternate Every Other Day: If I make a bit batch of a certain food to enjoy one week, I plan my meals so I'm only eating it every other day. I also like to mix up which meal I'm eating it for. For example, if I make a large batch of baked sweet potatoes, I might eat them with dinner on Monday and Wednesday and in a sweet potato breakfast bowl on Tuesday.
- Switch up How You Use Something: Just because you cook a large amount of a certain ingredient, doesn't mean you have to eat it the same way all week. For example, you might roast a big batch of carrots. You could eat some of them as a side with pork chops one night. Later in the week, you might blend the rest of the roasted carrots to make a carrot soup. You have two totally different meals but they're easy because you batch cooked the carrots. You can also do this with marinades! My lemon herb vinaigrette works well as a marinade for a variety of proteins. I might make a double batch and use half to marinate chicken and half to marinate salmon a few days later.
- Batch Ingredients: You don't have to batch the whole meal! You can easily batch cook a few ingredients to enjoy with different meals throughout the week. For example, you might make a big batch of rice or quinoa, but enjoy it with different proteins that week. Or you might make a big batch of roasted veggies to use as a side or mixed into grain bowls. This is one of the easiest ways to start batching if it's new for you.
- Use your freezer! I'm a huge fan of this one. This is actually my favorite way to use batching without getting bored of eating the same thing. Whenever I'm making something I know freezes well, I make a double batch and freeze half for later. That way we can eat it again a month later and it seems new and delicious again! I honestly don't search for “batching” recipes, it's just always in the back of my mind when I'm cooking. I know things like soup, casserole, sauces, chili, etc. freeze well so I double up and freeze! Trust me, it does not take double the effort to make two lasagnas instead of one. Such a time saver! (If you do use your freezer, make sure to always label and date the items! It's easy to forget what's in there.)
- Batch Tasks: Beyond batch cooking recipes, you can also batch kitchen tasks to majorly increase your efficiency. My favorite way to do this is to wash & chop all of my week's produce at once. This is way more efficient than getting out my cutting board and knife every time I want to eat a fruit or vegetable. Plus, it is so much more likely than my family will choose healthy snacks if there's a fridge full of prepped produce awaiting them!
Healthy Batch Cooking Recipes
As I mentioned above, you don't really need special recipes for batch cooking. However, there are definitely kinds of food that work well for this concept. Below are some of my favorite healthy batch cooking recipes that I make all the time:
Muffins freeze really well! Make a double batch and freeze half for easy to-go breakfasts on busy weeks. Some of my favorites are Chai Spice Zucchini Muffins and Very Berry Muffins (<< both gluten free & paleo!)
Veggies for Hash
You can either make a big batch of veggies to use for breakfast hash at the start of the week OR make a big batch and freeze individual portions. Either way makes it easy to enjoy a protein & veggie packed breakfast in a hurry! Try my Moroccan Breakfast Hash, it's a good one!
We designed these breakfast burritos specifically for batching and freezing and they've been a huge hit! I actually made a triple batch in my house and they still went quickly. One of my favorite things about these burritos is they work just as well for a quick lunch as for breakfast.
You can freeze a large frittata too if you like but I love the ability to pull just one or two of these little ones out of the freezer. They're also the perfect size for small hands if you have kiddos in your house.
If you love smoothies, you will save SO much time by batching them in smoothie bags. Simply divide your favorite smoothie ingredients, minus the liquid, into bags (use Stasher bags if you don't like plastic!) When you're ready to enjoy, add a smoothie bag and your liquid of choice to the blender!
I do want to add that I've had better luck with this method when I flash freeze the ingredients in a single layer first so they don't clump together.
Lunches & Dinners
Pretty much any casserole-type dish freezes well and this shepherd's pie is no exception! Make a double batch and your future self will thank you 🙂
Just like chili, soup is the perfect healthy batch cooking recipe! Try my Curried Cauliflower Soup with Apples or my Red Pepper Soup with Sweet Potatoes. Both freeze beautifully!
One of my favorite ways to use batch cooking is to cook a large roast, like the one used in this barbacoa, and serve it in different ways throughout the week. Serve in tacos, over salad or in a rice bowl.
For more tips on this “cook once, eat twice” batching strategy, check out my short video here.
Shredded Chicken Verde
Slow cooker chicken verde is another versatile protein to batch cook. Make a large batch and enjoy in different ways throughout the week.
Batch Cooking and freezing sauces is a great way to speed up future dinners. I frequently freeze pesto, chimichurri, gluten-free stir fry sauce and romesco sauce. Most non-cream-based sauces freeze really well!
There are two ways to use marinades for batch cooking. First, you can make a marinade at the beginning of the week and use it on different proteins throughout the week. Second, you can make a big batch and freeze a marinade for future easy dinners. Try my Parsley Marinade or my Zesty Citrus Marinade.
Next time you're mixing spices for a recipe, consider multiplying the recipe to make a jar full of your favorite spice mix! It takes virtually no extra time to make a bigger batch of a spice blend but will save you tons of time in the long run.
Okay, this one isn't a recipe, but I had to sneak it in here! A few years ago, I started batching my supplements by putting them in a weekly pill box and it has made a big difference in my morning routine! Even small efficiency hacks like this can make day to day life easier.
More Resources for Healthy Batching
Looking for more tips for healthy batching? Check out this article on Homemade Freezer Meals and this one on 10 Freezer Meal Prep Hacks. Learning how to freeze items properly is key to making the most of batch cooking!
You can also listen to Episode 141 of my podcast to hear how I use batching in other areas of my life, outside of the kitchen.
Do you use batching? I'd love to hear about it! Message me on Instagram @prepdish or leave a comment below!