Even with a great routine in place, who wouldn’t like to save time, money and energy and still eat healthy?
Batch cooking refers to the process of preparing recipes in a large enough quantity to have several portions left-over. These extra portions are saved for future meals. Cooking this way speeds up meal planning and preparation, making it easier to follow healthy eating habits. Some examples of recipes that are good for batch cooking include chili, soups, pasta sauces and casseroles.
Batch cooking is a great way to simplify your meal planning, save time and money by shopping and cooking less and help the environment! Weekends are a great time to cook up a big batch of one of your favourite recipes so you will save so much time during the week.
With the holidays coming, which are all about cooking great meals–often in large quantities – it’s a great time to use these strategies to learn and apply to save your leftovers to reduce food waste.
To make this work, it is important to know how to store your leftover food properly. Before storing leftovers make sure you allow food to cool slightly (do not leave out of the refrigerator for more than two hours) but once cooled you can package and store it. Store leftovers in clean, airtight containers for a 2-3 days after cooking or freeze for up to 2-3 months (i.e. make your own “frozen dinners”–minus the added calories, fat and salt). Defrost leftovers in the refrigerator the night before you want to eat them to make reheating them easier.
Worried about getting bored? It’s understandable. Everyone is different in their food comfort and preferences. Some of us are fine with eating the same thing over and over again, day after day and that is fine. It does take a lot of the thinking out of what we will eat. Others may need more variety and shaking things up their meals. With batch cooking you can meet both needs! The secret is to pick a basic recipe that can be easily reinvented into something else. For example, make a basic chili recipe which you can have chili one day, a taco salad the next day, use as a pasta sauce the day after… Eat roasted vegetables on their own. Add the leftovers to cooked quinoa to make a vegetable pilaf or layer them in a salad with a handful of fresh greens. Keep it simple and you will not only save yourself time and energy but can have some great, empowering meal combinations!