Learn how to batch cook to make meal prep quick, easy and painless! Included are a bunch of healthy meal prep recipes ideas and tips for getting started!
We're finishing up Meal Prep Week with a concept that I absolutely love and swear by: batch cooking.
We'll talk about what batch cooking is in a second, but first I thought it would be helpful to share how meal prep can benefit you. I'll be honest and tell you that I'm not the best with meal prep, but the weeks that I do it, I notice a considerable change in my stress levels. I have more time because I don't have to worry about what I'm making for lunch and dinner, I'm don't have to frantically run to the store because I'm out of something, etc.
It's really a huge time saver!
And in today's busy world, where we're all juggling a million and one things, the less time we can spend worrying about meals the better.
Why Meal Prep is Beneficial
So we talked about time and I think that's probably the biggest benefit of meal prep. It saves you TONS of time.
But that's not all. Meal prep can also help you save money, it can help you stick to your healthy eating, it can help you lose weight and it can help reduce stress.
Sounds pretty great, right?
In my mind, there are two forms of meal prep.
- Meal prepping entire meals
- Batch cooking
Both are extremely beneficial and have the same benefits, but I think where batch cooking stands out in my life is that it helps you have a bit more variety in your meals.
What is Batch Cooking?
The concept of batch cooking is pretty straightforward. Essentially, we're just cooking a few batches of different ingredients and storing them in our fridge to build meals throughout the week.
What's great about this method of meal prep is you can cook as many different ingredients as you want and then create a “brand new” meal each night of the week by using a different blend of those ingredients. Does that make sense?
If not, think of it this way:
You're making a quinoa buddha bowl for dinner. When we're batch cooking, we're making all those same components but storing them separately so one night we can have that buddha bowl and maybe the next day/night we make a salad with some of those ingredients. It won't feel like you're repeating yourself over and over again!
How to Batch Cook
Getting started with batch cooking, couldn't be easier! You just select the ingredients you want to prep, make them and put them in containers.
Where I think people can get caught up is which ingredients actually work for batch cooking. So I've put together a little list that will help you see the types of ingredients that work really well for batch cooking!
- Grains: quinoa, rice, millet, pasta
- Root Vegetables: sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, carrot, turnip
- Cruciferous Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
- Dark Leafy Greens: kale, chard, collards
- Proteins: plant-based proteins like beans, tempeh, tofu and animal proteins like chicken & beef
- Dressings: all sorts can be made ahead
Salad greens are the one thing that I don't love batch cooking because they tend to get wilted. If you're going to make a salad for the week, just chop your raw veggies and put them in one container and keep your clean lettuce its own container.
Best Cooking Methods for Batch Cooking
Last but not least, let's talk cooking methods for batch cooking! When it comes to cooking things ahead, there are a few different methods I like best for cooking.
Here's how they break down per ingredients:
- Grains: boil & drain
- Root Veggies: roasted, steamed
- Cruciferous Veggies: roasted, steamed
- Dark Leafy Greens: sauteed, raw
- Proteins: baked, grilled
And that's pretty much it! Plant-based ingredients should last up to 5 days in the fridge; animal protein maybe 3.
Oh, one final thing: make sure that your ingredients are completely cooled before covering the container and placing them in the fridge.
Meal Prep Recipe Ideas
- Harvest Mason Jar Quinoa Salad
- Meal Prep Sesame Tofu & Quinoa Bowls
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quinoa Chili
- Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
Ready to take it to the next level?
Join Simply Prepped, our amazing new program that is designed to help you simplify healthy eating by giving you the tools to make meal prep part of your daily routine. You'll get tips, tricks, recipes, 4 weeks worth of meal plans and so much more. Think of this as your meal prep guru who will walk you through the process and help make healthy eating delicious, fun and way less stressful!