You can save a ton of money and your health by cooking at home. But it takes time to prepare meals. Batch cooking will save you a lot of time getting healthy meals on your table. If you’re on a budget, check out these cheap nutritious foods to keep in your diet.
Getting healthy food that’s prepared by someone else is nearly impossible. If you can find scratch made food with quality ingredients, it’s EXPENSIVE. But healthy food is an important step to your fitness journey. You can make it an important part of your morning self care routine.
It’s a big part of the wellness wheel. Nutrition is so important for health. My wife, Christina does this with grace and skill to give our family healthy options, so she’s going to tell you all about how to do it today.
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What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking is making large batches of the same thing at one time. These meals are usually frozen in individual portions but can be refrigerated as well.
You can spend a couple of hours creating meals and save yourself tons of time cooking throughout the following weeks by just popping your own “tv” dinner out of the freezer or fridge and heat and eat. It saves so much time on a busy weeknight.
This gives you healthy options other than junky takeout when you don’t have time to prepare a meal. You can save a ton of money cooking your own food, but also your health. You know exactly what you’re putting in your food.
Batch cooking allows you to have dinner made, from scratch, whenever you need it. It’s less expensive than buying store-bought ready meals or take out. It’s even cheaper than fast food.
Homemade meals are healthier and you control everything that’s in the dish. You can adjust for dietary needs, allergies, and personal tastes of your family. You can avoid a ton of salt and sugar that’s in premade food and even more importantly unhealthy preservatives and additives.
Here’s a big one, for my husband and my daycare kids. You can HIDE vegetables in the sauces to add even more nutrition.
There are a few steps to take to get started. Just a little prep work and your batch cooking will be a huge success.
- Plan out what you’re going to make and gather the recipes
- Shop for the ingredients you need
- Prep all the ingredients you can ahead of time
- Plan your cooking day and cook the meals
- Store the food properly for later use.
Wash and pre-chop the vegetables when you bring them home if you can. If not, plan out a night to do this a day or two ahead of the cook day. Dry them well to prevent spoilage.
Some other things you can do to save time throughout the week if you don’t want to prepare whole meals are:
- Wash and chop raw veggies for sides and snacks
- Roast a ton of veggies so you can reheat or add to recipes
- Cook grains and beans such as brown rice and lentils to have ready to dump in a quick dinner or use as sides.
- Make dressings ahead of time or sauces that store well to make quick meals.
There are a few tips to help you be successful.
- Don’t try to do too much
- Store in single portions for easier use
- Give yourself plenty of time
- LABEL with contents AND cooking instructions as well as dates
- Get your family to help on cooking day
- Have fun, don’t stress about it.
Cook the things your family enjoys for success. It takes just as much time to make one batch as it does to make 5 and that’s 4 nights you don’t have to clean up the cooking dishes! It’s such a great way to succeed in eating healthy.
These are some meals that freeze GREAT!
- Soup and stew
- Pasta with sauces
- Baked and mashed potatoes or other vegetables
- Shredded meats
Frozen Soup Ideas
- Butternut squash
- Lentil or other beans
Frozen Sauce and stock ideas
Batch cooking meal prep
Again, washing and pre chopping the vegetables, pre-cooking grains and legumes that take a long time to cook, and roasting a big batch of long-cooking vegetables such as sweet potatoes or winter squash will save you a ton of time on meal prep day. You can also make up a ton of granola like this one and save it in jars for later.
Know what you can freeze and what you can’t. Things that freeze well include:
Things that don’t freeze well include:
- Cream cheese
- Uncooked potatoes
Use muffin tins to freeze the perfect portion. Once frozen, pop them out and store them in an air-tight container. This helps a ton with food waste.
Plastic wrap is a great help. Line your baking pans with it and then freeze your recipe. Once it’s frozen, lift it out of the pan and return that pan to the kitchen. Store the plastic-wrapped meal in a freezer bag in the freezer. Then unwrap it and return to the pan for reheating.
Leave room in the containers for expansion and squeeze out all the air you can. This helps the food last longer and with better quality.
Use a sheet tray to freeze individual hamburger patties, pancakes, meatballs, and cookie dough balls. Once frozen, pop the items in storage containers and freeze. This way they don’t stick together.
If you don’t want to have a big cooking day, just plan to triple or quadruple the recipe you’re making tonight. Freeze the extras and do it again next week. Before long, you’ll have a variety of frozen meals for the family.
Batch cooking on a budget
Batch cooking saves a ton of money by letting you shop in bulk. You can cook grains and beans from dry instead of buying pre-cooked, canned, or whatever. It’s far less expensive.
Batch cooking also keeps you out of the store which keeps you from making impulse purchases. This saves you tons of time too. I’d rather do just about anything than grocery shop.
You can also save money by buying big roasts and whole chickens. Cook them, shred the meat, and it’s ready to go in a ton of dishes.
Making sauces from scratch saves you a lot of money as well.
Other things you can do to save money is to use more whole grains and beans. Stretch your meat into stir-fries, soups, and casseroles saving money that way too.
A great way to save time baking is to premake mixes. It’s like having jiffy or Bisquick, but without the chemicals. Store them in an air-tight container and they are ready to go. Some I like to keep on hand are:
- All purpose mix
- Pancake mix
- Cake mix
- Bread machine mix
- Cornbread mix
- Muffin mix
- Cookie mix
Remember again, to LABEL with contents, using instructions, and dates.
Some great things you can bake in bulk and freeze are:
- Loaves of whole wheat bread
- Corn bread
- Sweet breads
There are so many ways to save time and money by preparing ahead of time what you’ll need. You’re going to be amazed at what you can come up with. There are so many batch cooking recipes at Little Sprouts Learning that will help you get dinner on the table fast! Also, meal prep planning helps a lot.