I have a confession to make. I used to HATE batch cooking. My thought was that it involved eating the same thing night after night.
Then I had kids that got involved in activities, and my time to get dinner on the table became limited. I needed a way to get healthy dinners on the table with little to no prep time. Suddenly I was rethinking batch cooking.
My vision of eating the same thing night after night was busted when I learned the true definition of batch cooking, how to do it successfully, and found many recipes.
If you want to save time and money and get dinner on the table quickly, it’s time to learn about batch cooking for beginners.
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
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What Is Batch Cooking?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, batch cooking is “the practice of cooking large amounts of a type of food at one time and keeping some to eat at later meals.”
Batch cooking is accomplished by doubling recipes to freeze or cooking meal components in advance. There are massive benefits to this cooking method.
- Save Time — You do the work in advance, saving precious minutes during dinner prep.
- Save Money — Buying items on sale or in bulk saves money.
- Save Brainpower — Trying to come up with ideas for dinner every night is exhausting and adds to our mental load. Having premade meals ready takes an item off the neverending to-do list.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Batch Cooking?
There are some disadvantages to batch cooking, although most have simple solutions.
- You must buy more groceries in advance. If your money is limited, it can be difficult to buy more than you need for the week can be difficult. Shopping bulk items and sales help keep costs down.
- You need time to cook. Making multiple dishes and additional components takes time. We get it if you don’t have an afternoon to dedicate to cooking! We’ve got some recipes that are very easy to double.
- You are eating the same thing more than once. Do not freeze a meal or prep components you don’t like or haven’t tried. You likely won’t eat it and are wasting time and money.
- You need the space to store the food. An extra freezer is a luxury only some have. Make sure you have ta place to store your freezer meals. We have tips to maximize space.
Is It Cheaper To Batch Cook?
Yes! It is cheaper to batch cook. Buying items in bulk is often cheaper. Also, most recipe writers don’t consider the amount of an item it uses. Home cooks are occasionally left with half-used bottles and cans; batch cooking helps fully use ingredients.
Batch Cooking For Beginners — What Do I Need To Start Batch Cooking?
Here’s the beauty of batch cooking, you don’t need special equipment to get started. You likely have everything you need already.
The Best Equipment For Batch Cooking For Beginners
- Large Pots —Since you are doubling or even tripling recipes, you need large pots to accommodate. We love enamel-covered cast iron. They are easy to clean, heat evenly, and easily go from stove to oven. For batch cooking, we recommend 6 quarts or bigger. The main drawback is that even when empty, these pans are heavy. Le Creuset is a popular brand, but it’s pricey. If you aren’t into making an investment, check out the Amazon Basics version. It’s a fraction of the cost.
- Permanent Markers — Frozen food looks the same after a while. It’s important to label and date everything. Ensure the marker is permanent and not your child’s Crayola washable version.
- Freezer Bags — Getting a more durable freezer bag is important. We love gallon sizes for sizes, but if you are making side dishes, quart sizes are great, too.
- Baking Sheets — These are nice but not necessary. After placing your meals in freezer bags, if you lay them flat on a baking sheet to freeze, they take up less space and defrost quicker.
- Throw Away Aluminum Pans — If you want a no-fuss dinner, buy throwaway pans for any casserole you make (including lasagna and baked ziti). Loaf pans are perfect for two people, and 8×8 cake pans are great for a family of four.
- Vacuum Sealer — We have and love the older version of this Food Saver. It’s easy to operate and allows you to make bags in any size. Most foods are good in the freezer for 1-2 months; vacuum sealing extends this time significantly. If you have the storage space, it’s a worthy investment.
Tips For Successful Batch Cooking For Beginners
- Only cook what you are going to eat. If you didn’t like a meal the first time, you wouldn’t eat it the second time.
- Certain foods do not freeze well. Pasta that isn’t in a casserole, watery vegetables like cucumbers, delicate vegetables like leafy greens, dairy-based items like soups and dressings,
- Label everything. Everything starts to look the same after a while, and trust me; you won’t remember that you made meat sauce in June. Label and date anything you make.
- I like to write the instructions for reheating on the outside of casseroles. Writing on the cover saves me the time of looking up the recipe. They are also great to have if you want to bring food to a friend in need.
- Don’t go overboard. A good rule is not to make and freeze something you won’t eat in the next six weeks.
Batch Cooking For Beginners — What Is The Easiest Meat To Cook In Bulk?
Two meat types are easy to cook in bulk: ground beef and chicken breast. Both a very versatile and hard to mess up. They are the perfect starter recipes when batch cooking for beginners.
Put a little oil in a large pan to brown ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up as you go. We love this tool to get fine pieces.
Chicken breasts can be tricky to cook, specifically due to the dreaded rubbery chicken. But chicken tenderloins in a crock pot is very easy. The slow and low cooking method creates pulled chicken which is useful in everything from soups to salads.
How to cook shredded chicken in the crockpot:
- Spray the inside with cooking spray.
- Place two pounds of chicken breast in a crockpot and add ¾ cup of low-sodium chicken broth and 1 tsp. Seasoning salt.
- Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 2-3 hours on low until chicken is falling apart.
Batch Cooking Recipes For Beginners
Here are some delicious batch-cooking recipes for beginners. I’ve made all these many times, and they always come out great!
- Baked Ziti —Baked ziti is the way to go if you want a hearty comfort meal. This recipe is excellent, with or without the sausage. I like to split the recipe into two 8×8 cake pans. It easily feeds my family of four.
- Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken — This chicken is so versatile! We put it on baked sweet potatoes and top it with blue cheese dressing, salads, and buns for sandwiches. I omit the ranch seasoning.
- Bolognese — Some recipes for bolognese sauce take HOURS. The one from Ina Garten is ready in about 30 minutes. It’s super easy to double, and you can easily swap ground turkey or even chicken if you don’t like beef. Pasta only freezes well in casseroles, so freeze the sauce alone and make the pasta when ready.
- Tex Mex Chili — Leave the cheese and cilantro off and prepare this easy chili from Rachael Ray in under 30 minutes. It’s not spicy, and kids will love it. There isn’t much chopping involved, so it’s perfect for doubling or tripling. Batches taste great on baked potatoes, burritos, and even nachos.
- Pork Carnitas — These pork carnitas are so incredibly good. Whatever amount you are prepping for another day, stop at step one. Broiling twice dries out the meat.
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork — We loved pulled pork, but it is too much night after night. We always freeze leftovers. We use Butt Rub for the seasoning; it’s not too salty or spicy.
- Meatballs — Almost any recipe will do, but we love Grandma Maroni’s recipe from the Food Network. Since there’s so much chopping, you might as well double it. They are well worth the effort.
What Do You Think?
Is there anything else you’d like included in this batch cooking for beginners guide? What are your favorite recipes to make? Let us know in the comments below; I’d love to read it.
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