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Breeze Through Weeknight Cooking with Batch Cooking Meal Prep

Containers full of vegetables, rice, and chicken.
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

Spending your precious weeknight hours in the kitchen? Start batch cooking, and you can devote that time to family and activities you enjoy!

What Is Batch Cooking?

Batch cooking is preparing different foods ahead of time to use in various meals throughout the week.

To get started, pick a day of the week (Sunday might work best) and spend a few hours with your chef’s knife and cutting board. By washing, pre-cutting, and even cooking certain items, you’ll have more free time during the week.

Plan Weekly Meals

Take a moment to think about how often you cook dinner. Are you hoping to make more homemade meals, but lacking the time? Batch cooking is an all-purpose solution to get healthier meals on the table without spending hours on them every single day.

You can either select recipes that use ingredients that work for several meals, or do a little mix and match. Prepare veggies, grains, and a protein of choice, and then use them creatively throughout the week.

Once you’ve chosen which foods (or recipes) to make during the upcoming week, make your list and get your groceries. Make sure you do a quick fridge and pantry check, so you don’t purchase unnecessary items.

Turn Sunday into Cooking Fun-day

Sunday tends to work best to batch cook for most families because it’s the final weekend day before school and work.

It’s also important not to prepare or cook foods too far in advance. Most lose quality and start to spoil in just a few days.

Adding a new project to your routine might be challenging at first, but we highly recommend working in some batch cooking. You’ll be glad you did when you’re enjoying free time the rest of the week.

You can also turn batch cooking time into “you” time. Ask your spouse or partner to mind the kids for a few hours. Turn on some music or listen to your favorite podcast while you prepare all your colorful, tasty ingredients.

Wash, Peel, and Cut

Think about the meals you prepare each night and the multitude of tasks involved with specific dinners. You have vegetables to wash, peel, cut, and then cook.

These are all time-consuming tasks you can now do on Sunday.  If you want to incorporate more wholesome foods into your family’s diet, batch cooking can help with that, too.

While you are at it, take some time to prepare little baggies of raw veggies. Then, there will be plenty of healthy snacks to grab.

If you plan to put prepared raw fruits or veggies back in the fridge, make sure they’re 100 percent dry before you store them. Extra moisture will cause them to spoil faster.

Pre-Cook Main Ingredients

A tray of roasted vegetables.
Tatiana Volgutova/Shutterstock

Another bonus of batch cooking is, as the name implies, cooking foods ahead of time. You can roast a variety of vegetables so all you have to do is reheat them during the week.

Here are a few veggies you can roast ahead of time:

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage

Rotate your favorite grains and legumes and cook one or two batches on Sunday. The following are some healthy and delicious options you can reheat throughout the week:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Amaranth

You can also choose one or two protein options to cook on Sunday. Cooked meat and poultry will last in the fridge for three to four days; cooked fish and shellfish will last one to two. If you have a family of carnivores, it’s safer to cook the protein option each evening.

Reheat and Finish Each Dish

Now that you’ve spent a few hours washing, chopping, and cooking different foods, it’s smooth sailing from here!

If you’re doing a bit of mixing and matching each night, pick one or two roasted veggies, along with a grain and protein. From there, you can create something amazing. Finish your dish with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh herbs, or grated cheese.

If you’ve planned recipes, use your ingredients according to what you’ve picked out. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative and add your own touch to the meal, though.

The possibilities are endless, and you can find loads of ideas online. Rather than sweating over the stove each night, you can now spend those precious hours with your family.

Batch cooking can save you money on takeout, and help you create delicious meals and more free time! Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to finish or pull out an old board game. Do something you enjoy instead of fussing over a hot stove every night!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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