Could batch cooks be the new fairy godmother of food preparation? With all the pressures of life, meal preparation can not only be intimidating but also seem impossible. Parents are trying to juggle so many balls at once, and there is never enough time in the day to think about healthy family meals. Not to mention the absolute lack of creativity at 6pm with a few hungry mouths to feed. I totally get it!
Batch cooking has transformed the way I feed my family and gives me a few precious minutes extra in the evenings to play a game with my kids or help them with their homework.
WHAT IS BATCH COOKING?
Batch cooking is the pre-preparing of recipes, which can be mixed and matched to create a variety of meals throughout the week. These meals are what I refer to as ‘bases’, and which will work with various other ‘last- minute-quick-cooks’ such as rice, quinoa or salads. For me, batch cooks are usually done on a Sunday and typically take around 11⁄2 hours to prepare. It’s also a good time to do your juicing for the week, prepare overnight oats, chia breakfast bowls or even just wash and cut veggies for use later in the week.
WHY IS BATCH COOKING SO ON TREND?
- Getting into the habit of batch cooking will save time during the week and alleviate mealtime stress, creating more time to help kids with homework, empty the dishwasher, take washing off the line, put your feet up, meditate or go for a quick walk.
- One mess, one clean. Enough said!
- You’ll eat more whole plant-based foods – no more last-minute, highly processed foods or take-out, which will result in a healthier, happier you!
- You’ll save money. Buying your food in bulk and preparing it at home is much cheaper than buying ready meals and takeout.
- Workplace lunches will be transformed. Leftovers and batch cooks are lifesavers when it comes to packing lunch – no more junk food from the canteen.
- You will feel like a rock star – being organised and having everything in place when you get home from work gives you such a sense of achievement – this alone, makes batch cooking worthwhile!
STEPS TO CREATE A BATCH COOK PLAN
1. Plan your meals for the week or have an idea of the meals you think you may like. Some examples:
- Chilli can be served with roasted sweet potato, or eaten with tacos and guacamole. You can roll it into a wrap to make a burrito, or even spooned onto a slice of sourdough.
- Red lentil dal can be served alongside a quick curry, or packed for school in a flask with toasted wraps, or eaten with sliced avocado for breakfast.
- Bolognese sauce can be used to make a lasagne, served with pasta, or eaten with sourdough bread. Roasted sweet potatoes can be added to a Buddha bowl or salad jar, thrown into a curry, or stirred through a leafy, green salad.
- Pre-cut veggies are great to serve with hummus, added to lunchboxes, or eaten as a snack throughout the day.
- Vegan granola makes a great breakfast, lunchbox snack, or pre-workout snack.
2. Try to cook at least 2 bases, 2–3 veggies (just wash and chop or pre-cook too) and 2 legumes (chickpeas, black beans). I make a lunchbox option for the kids as well, such as bliss balls, granola bars or muffins.
3. Make a shopping list. Don’t shop when you are hungry and be disciplined about keeping to the list. A way to maintain shopping discipline is to order fruit and veg from a local organic produce company and have them delivered on a Friday or whenever convenient for your chosen batch cook day.
4. Clear your diary to accommodate batch cook day, turn on some music and get cooking!
If you need more help and tips, you can find tons of vegan recipes and inspiration in my book ‘Made with Love and Plants’. You can get it from Takealot, Exclusive Books, Amazon, or select independent bookstores.