Hello everyone! As I’ve returned to heading into the office more after the last couple of years, I’ve started to do Batch Cooking a lot more for my weekday meals. It was something that as something of a foodie, I was previously a bit skeptical about – so now I have been, is Batch Cooking worth it?
Whilst my reasoning was more to do with time than saving money, I’ve found it something very positive for health and finances and as such thought worth writing an article with my thoughts on how to get the most out of it – especially if you’re someone who doesn’t feel they’re naturally a cook.
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What is Batch Cooking?
The concept is nothing groundbreaking – it’s simply where you plan ahead with your meals to cook in a larger volume that you would naturally so you have meals for future days. A meal that cooks for 4 people for instance you scale up and make for 8, etc. You can go as big or small as you like!
Is Batch Cooking Repetitive?
Many people are put off Batch Cooking because they don’t like the idea of limited variety in meals. If this is the case depends how you choose to batch cook and your own food preferences.
Personally I don’t mind eating the same thing for a couple of nights in a row. If the thought of the same meal on two days seems unbearable though, most foods are freezable.
As such with some good Tupperware, some freezer space and a some sticky labels you’ll have a selection of batch cooked meals to choose from that mean you can still batch cook and get some variability!
We also tend to batch cook on two consecutive nights – so we can swap back and forth.
Having said that, it’s worth acknowledging that obviously not every meal can be batch cooked, and it’s largely meals like soups, stews and curries that lend themselves best to doing so. Winter cookery is therefore easier, but there’s many more options for food choice than you might think.
Does Batch Cooking save money?
Generally yes, depending on where you’re starting from!
If you’re a meat eater, you’ll find using larger packs of meat for batch cooking work out significantly more economical than buying smaller packs.
If you’re veggie, the differences are more marginal as vegetables are cheaper to begin with, and don’t quite benefit from bulk buying in the same way.
Where you’ll make a little bit of further gain is also in energy use – one big cook where your oven or hob has to warm up and cook once is less energy intensive than multiple cooks.
Whilst this isn’t going to save you megabucks, it’s surprising how much this can rack up over time. Plus, it’s also better for the environment so good side benefits!
Does Batch Cooking save time?
Yes, absolutely. Whilst the time of prepping the one large meal will be slightly extending as there is more chopping and preparation, it’s a huge time save on starting a meal from scratch.
To me, this is the main benefit of batch cooking. When I’m in the office and have had a commute back it can be late. Having a home cooked meal which just needs heated up is an absolute lifesaver, and I notice the difference in the week because of it.
It does require commitment to set aside some time at the weekend or on a day in the week to do the prep. For me, it taking away the stress in the week is well worth it.
Is Batch Cooking healthy?
Obviously it depends what you cook – but I know that because I’m exhausted after work and it’s usually late, if I’m not cooking something from scratch I’m likely moving towards the ready meal section or a takeaway.
Even a relatively unhealthy and gluttonous meal cooked at home by you is likely to be better than the ready meal or takeaway option! They’re absolutely loaded with hidden fats and salts to make them taste better than they are.
There’s plenty of great healthy options out there for batch cooking – good quality stuff from yourself can make a huge difference to your wasteline.
How long does Batch Cooking last in the fridge?
It slightly depends on what you cook (and is worth reviewing food safety advice) but I’ve found most items can comfortably be left in the fridge for 3-4 days. If I think I’m not going to eat something or am worried about it, I simply put it in the freezer instead and defrost it when I want to eat it.
How long does Batch Cooking last in the freezer?
Again it depends on what you cook, but most batch cooking will stay at best in the freezer for 3-6 months. It can still be eaten after this, but you may notice some impact on taste and quality.
What resources can help with batch cooking for beginners?
I’m hoping to start publishing a few more recipes and cooking guides here at the Wilderness, but I’d really recommend the BBC’s always excellent Good Food where they have a specific section devoted to batch cooking with a range of great options.
I’d also recommend “The Batch Lady” – a family friendly Batch Cooking focused cookbook that also has some excellent tips for getting started.
What cookware do I need for Batch Cooking?
You can make most things work for batch cooking but there’s a few things I would particularly recommend:
A good knife
Batch cooking can feature a reasonable amount of chopping, so something that can you can work quickly and safely with is important.
Most chefs favorite tool is their knife. I’d suggest going to a cookware shop and working out what balance and handle feels right to you, as it’s a personal thing. You don’t need to spend huge amounts, but it’s worth investing in something of good quality.
A stock pot
It’s helpful to have a large stockpot with width and depth for your bulk cooking, just to be able to contain everything! They’re especially good for soups.
Make sure it works with your cooker top. I personally use this 8.5 litre one from Masterclass.
A casserole or baking dish
Some batch cooking recipes will use a mix of the hob and oven and a good but basic casserole dish can really help this. A Le Creuset is lovely (and in fairness they’re tough and do last) but you really don’t need to spend that amount to get a good one for everyday use.
An Instant Pot (Optional)
This one is entirely a nice to have, but one tool I personally really love for my batch cooking is an Instant Pot.
This runs a number of functions including acting as a pressure cooker, which makes large scale cooking very quick and easy. You can find a vast collection of dishes online for it, and most are of a “dump dish” variety where you can simply throw the ingredients in and let it cook without worrying too much about it.
Whilst I think it doesn’t quite match cooking on the hob or oven, it’s a really great for beginner cooks or those without much time for batch cooking, and can help build confidence in a batch cook.
As you can tell we love batch cooking and think that it can have a really positive effect on both your health and your wallet! If you have any questions just leave us a message below in the comments and we’ll try and get back to you!
(We’d also absolutely love to hear about any batch cooking successes as well! Let us know in the comments – we’d especially love to hear any good recipes!)