The definition of batch cooking is preparing large quantities of meals, sides, or snacks to eat later. Batch cooking allows you to do all of the hard work upfront so you can reap the rewards later.
For people who are used to batching their work, this technique should come easily to you.
Healthy batch cooking is an excellent way to ensure more nutritious meals for you and your family since you’ll be able to prepare them all in advance, avoiding the pitfalls of last minute convenience food or ordering in.
Who wants cereal for dinner when you have a nice batch cooked lasagna in the freezer?
The following guide is provided with much help and guidance from plant based meal planning expert and the founder of Batch Cooking Club, Stephanie Dreyer.
Read on for her tips and tricks and see information for her free tools and trial for batch cooking at the end of the post!
The Benefits of Batch Cooking
There are several benefits to batch cooking.
- It saves time: You cook less often and spend less time in the kitchen (so you can spend more time doing the things you love).
- It saves you money: By planning your meals in advance, you can reduce your grocery shopping trips and only buy what you need. It also reduces the amount of money you spend eating out and buying take out.
- It helps you eat healthier: You can plan your snacks and meals and focus on good-for-you foods vs choosing convenience or fast food because you don’t have time to cook.
- It reduces mealtime stress: Meals come together in 30 minutes or less.
- It helps you eat homemade more often.
- It strengthens family connections: Planned and prepped meals allow you to sit down to a home-cooked meal with your loved ones more often.
What is Batch Cooking and How Does it Work?
Batch cooking means you prepare meals or recipe components ahead of time to eat later in the week.
In a perfect batch cooking world, you would:
- meal plan and prepare your grocery list together once during the week (for example, on Thursday)
- Grocery shop once on another day (for example, Friday) and
- Reserve time on Saturday or Sunday to batch cook.
Tips for Successful Batch Cooking
When creating your meal plan for the week, identify which ingredients you’ll batch from your recipes and schedule a time to cook them.
- By prepping dressings, sauces, vegetables, snacks and grains ahead of time, meal preparation during the week is streamlined and effortless.
- You can also prepare complete meals during your batch sessions and store them to eat at another time.
- Not every meal can be batch cooked and you don’t need to cook all your food for the week ahead of time.
- Instead of cooking everything for the week, we recommend syncing your schedule to batch cook where you need the most help in the week.
That could mean preparing a couple of things for lunches, a batch of muffins to eat for breakfasts throughout the week and 2 dinners…or it could mean 4 dinners for the week.
We suggest making a meal plan for the week based on your schedule and select 5 recipes to prepare. These could include full meals such as:
- ingredients such as roasted vegetables, sauces, dressings, marinades
Transform those ready-to-go ingredients into meals later in the week—whenever you need the most meal prep help.
Check out these:
Use Batch Cooking For Better Nutrition with Healthy Meal Prep
Planning out your meals allows you to have home-cooked, healthy meals at the ready instead of rushing through the drive thru or picking whatever option is most convenient (which usually tends to be the most unhealthy).
Another benefit to healthy batch cooking is that you have control over the amount of fat, sugar and salt that you put into your food.
Note from Rach: Healthy batch cooking provides a lot of benefits even beyond replacing convenience and fast food meals with home cooking.
Many people get worn down and lose the willpower to choose healthier options when it comes time to cook. A cheese plate and wine or some mac and cheese might seem like the best, quick option to make for dinner.
Or course there are ways of making meals like homemade mac and cheese healthier (like my Cauliflower Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese), but often, these thrown together meals are unbalanced in terms of macro and micro-nutrients.
By batch cooking your veggies, carbs, proteins, etc. you’ll be well prepared to throw together something that’s balanced, filling, and satisfying.
This will also make meal prepping lunches for school or work a snap too. Especially if you prep sauces separately so you can mix and match cuisines.
How to Save Money with Batch Cooking
Batch cooking saves you money by reducing your trips to the grocery store and keeping you focused to buy only what’s on your meal plan (less impulse purchase buys).
If beans and grains are in your batch plan, you can shop from the bulk bin which reduces costs. Batch cooking also saves you money by reducing your dining out expenses. Cooking at home is less expensive than eating out.
What are some good examples of batch cook meals that are healthy?
- Casseroles (such as lasagna)
- Veggie burgers
- Fillings for tacos, wraps, stuffed shells and casseroles
These are all great examples of healthy batch cook meals.
Note from Rach: You can use a sheet pan and muffin tray to batch cook meals that require the same oven temperature such as my Mini Meatloaves with Sheet Pan Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans
For a quick way for batch cooking fillings and shredded meat, check out my Instant Pot Protein Cooking Guide.
Healthy Batch Cooking with Canned Food
Canned beans and legumes are great for making batch cooked soups and stews.
Canned tomatoes are great bases for sauces that can be used in casseroles and pastas.
Note from Rach: The most vital things to watch for when it comes to canned food is sodium and added sugars. Many pre-made meals like soups and pastas in cans are loaded with both.
To avoid this, choose single-food items for batch cooking such as:
- Tuna and salmon
- Green beans
- Fruit in its own juice (not syrup)
Look at the labels on your cans and try to stick to products with 5% or less sodium or sugar per serving.
Avoid using cream soups. For example, a can of Cream of Mushroom soup contains 2,175 mg of sodium— close to the total of your 2,300 mg recommended daily sodium intake.
Foods that are canned in syrup or brine will lose their nutritional potency so are best avoided.
Canned tuna, a major seller in the market for canned foods, is an excellent choice. It’s low in sodium, high in protein, and chock full of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, B12, and zinc.
Try using canned tuna to make my Healthy Tangy Tuna Salad for batch cooking lunches.
Throw a Healthy Batch Cooking Party!
Batch cooking is more fun with friends! Turn your batch cooking session into a party:
- Designate a date and time to cook.
- Set up stations for each recipe. Give each person a recipe to work on or work together as you move from station to station.
- Make it fun! Play music and have refreshments.
Note from Rach:
I’ve held batch cooking parties at my home before! It’s a blast.
We prepped, prepared, and packaged the meals together and then each took home our share. Each of us was responsible for choosing and purchasing the ingredients for three meals that made enough for the four of our families.
Here are my tips for a smooth batch cooking party:
- Collaborate on the number of meals each of you will be responsible for and for how many servings
- Voice your likes and dislikes to avoid disappointment. If you hate beans, say so. Of course, since kids are picky, you may have to give leeway here.
- Make it clear if the meals should include meat or not. One sticking point in my group was that one person (who wasn’t vegetarian) was choosing meals without enough protein and no meat. This was a point of contention for another participant who felt the cost of meals and quality wasn’t equal.
- Make sure you have freezer bags or containers, labels, and sharpies available for packaging.
- Be sure to note the method for reheating on the label.
How to Store and Freeze Your Batch Cooking
Almost anything can be frozen when stored properly. Some of our favorite batch cooked foods to freeze are soups and stews, beans, grains, veggie burgers and falafel.
Note from Rach:
Freezing keeps food safe for a very long time, practically forever, but the taste and quality will deteriorate over time.
Here are some guidelines for freezing your batch cooking:
- Casseroles: 2-3 months
- Frozen dinners and entrees: 3-4 months
- Cooked meat: 2-3 months
- Cooked poultry: 4 months
- Soups, stews, chili: 2-3 months
There are also some ingredients that you really don’t want to freeze because the texture will be just all wrong when you thaw it.
there are some ingredients that do not freeze well and the texture or taste may be altered.
- Cream sauce
To Cook or Not to Cook Batch Cooking Meals Before Freezing
You do not have to cook batch cooking meals before freezing. You can save them raw if they are able to easily be cooked that way. For example, prepping lasagnas and saving them partially baked or pre-baked in the freezer.
Freezing raw can help maintain moisture in cooked meat.
Some aromatic ingredients taste better when they are cooked prior such as
Consider Joining the Batch Cooking Club
Use our free Batch Cooking Planner to organize your meals and batch cooking for the week: https://www.batchcookingclub.com/planner
- Prep foods that need to bake or roast first.
- Next, prep foods that require sauteing or stove top cooking
- While foods are roasting and cooking, mix and blend sauces and dressings.
Batch Cooking Club:
- Batch Cooking Club makes meal time easier by giving you a weekly action plan to save you time in the kitchen and get healthier food on your plate.
- It’s a weekly meal prep membership that helps you prepare 3 meals and a snack every week.
- How it works:
- We give you a step-by-step guide, recipes and shopping list to prepare 3 meals and a snack for the week
- You shop for the ingredients
- In just about 2 hours, you batch cook and store the food for the week
- Each week, you receive:
- 5 recipes to batch cook on the weekend
- 3 additional recipes to use the batch cooked food (roasted vegetables, sauces, dressings, marinated proteins) to make 3 meals later in the week.
- A batch cooking plan tells you exactly what to cook and in what order, as well as the equipment you’ll need and how much time you’ll spend
- A shopping list for the ingredients in all 8 recipes
- A suggested Meal Planner for when to eat your meals during the week (and room to plan out the rest of your meals)
- A live online cooking class in our members-only, private Facebook Group, preparing one of the recipes in the weekly plan.
- Each membership also includes a Getting Started Guide with a panty checklist and other tips
- Each membership includes an Ingredient Substitution Guide with alternatives for every ingredient in each of our recipes
- You can try us free at https://www.batchcookingclub.com/free
- See the plan for the week at https://www.batchcookingclub.com/this-week
- Social media profiles on Facebook and Instagram: @batchcookingclub
I love all of your tips! And yes to batch cooking, such a time saver!!
I will definitely use this advice. Batch cooking truly saves a lot of resources. Thank you for sharing!
I didn’t know this was the term but I’ve been doing this for a long time. It makes it so much easier to have healthy meals for my family during the busy week by cooking larger portions on the weekends and eating leftovers. Thanks for sharing these great tips to do it more efficiently!
That’s awesome Adrienne! Thanks for the kind words 🙂
Never thought of cooking in batches before but that’s because we’re a small family and cook in small amounts too. Plus I personally prefer fresh cooked dishes. However, this does seem like a practical solution for many. Thanks for these tips!
It’s easy to batch prep fresh foods for fresh meals. That’s what many people do! Just chop up all veggies, slice meat/proteins, etc. Store them to make fresh meals a snap!
I love the idea of a membership for this! I never know what, when, or how. The best I’ve done is pre-cook chicken for pasta. I’m going to have to check this out!
You totally should! The free trial makes it a no-brainer.
I have never tried batch cooking. Your tips on eating healthy, saving time, money, and eating together as family are awesome! I need to start batch cooking as soon as possible.
Yes, do it! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words
I love the idea of batch cooking! Sometimes when I meal prep entire meals I end up not wanting to eat the exact same meal day after day. If I instead batch cook ingredients, I am free to mix it up throughout the week!
This is a great technique. I recommend this a lot!
It is something that I already do and I can guarantee that if done correctly it is very helpful. Useful post.
Thanks for your insight!
thanks so much for sharing liked the freezing keep dates really needed those I enjoyed reading your post will come back check you out again
Thanks Angie! So glad you found it useful 🙂