Batch Cooking, this simple trick will save you so much time and energy in the kitchen.
When you start eating food without labels you no longer need to count calories. If you want to be healthy, COOK! The food industry has done a great job of convincing eaters that corporations can cook better than we can. The problem is, it’s not true. As Michael Pollan would say “Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants”.
Many well-intentioned people strive to cook more of their own meals, only to fall a little short on perceived time and energy to actually get in the kitchen. We are too tired to cook, so we order in. We are short on time, so we pick up take out on the way home from work. We have spent so little time in the kitchen, it overwhelms us, maybe scares us a little, so we get in a rut of the things we know and end up eating boxed mac and cheese, or maybe sandwiches, we all know how to make sandwiches.
I get it; cooking most of your meals can be daunting. This one simple trick that has helped me cook more meals at home, I like to call batch-cooking day. Batch cooking day is basically a day off of work that I dedicated a couple hours to preparing myself for a week of success in the kitchen. Setting some time aside for this one day a week, can really save you so much time, energy, and money during the busy workweek. I do some meal planning for the week, deciding what meals I would like to eat, I create a grocery list for those meals, go out for my grocery haul, get home, turn up the tunes, and get cooking.
Here are some things I like to prepare and store in Tupperware on batch cooking day:
-Hummus: check out my recipe’s here. And to go with my hummus I always chop some veggies for easy snacking: Carrot sticks, celery, and jicama. I also love dipping sugar snap peas in hummus, and try to keep them in the fridge.
-Sometimes since I already have the food processer out for hummus, I then make a batch of falafel without even having to clean the food processer after the hummus, because its practically the same thing. In addition to all the hummus ingredients I add some onion, parsley, and some breadcrumbs, or flour. I blend it less, you want the mix for falafel to still be chunky. I then roll them into balls, and bake them on a greased pan on 375 for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your falafel. I store some in the fridge, and depending on how big a batch I made, put some in the freezer as well.
-Grains: I often have meals during the week that include grains such as quinoa or rice. I will make a large batch, 1-2 cups for just me (cook more if you’re cooking for family size). The grains are ready to go, just heat them up and add other ingredients or serve cold on salad. They generally are the part of most meals that take the longest.
-I pick a couple veggies for sautéing and chop them into large cubes so they are ready to grab and toss in the pan. Grocery stores do this now; you can buy pre chopped veggies in plastic bags. Doing this saves so much time, and chopping the veggies myself (rather than buying the pre-chopped grocery store veggies) saves the planet, one plastic bag at a time. Some veggies I love to pre-chop for the week include: butternut squash, zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onion, celery, carrots, beets, and the list could go on.
-Bake a couple sweet potatoes for the week.
-Peel some bananas, chop some other fruits, and toss in a bag or tupperware in the freezer for smoothies.
-Spiralize some zucchini (3-4) ready for salads and pasta dishes. I got this spiralizer real cheap, and small which is great for travel. But I’m looking forward to the day I can bring this guy home.
–Massage some kale with sea salt and lemon juice.
-Make a large batch of veggie burgers.
-Make salad dressings for the week.
-I package a home made gorp, a term for trail mix often used by hikers, is typically said to be an acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts” or its common ingredients “granola, oats, raisins, peanuts.” Gorp is great to store in your car and purse for an emergency snack. But more often than gorp, I just eat mixed nuts.
-Pesto: In a blender: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, and heaps of basil. Easy peasy.
-Veggie Broth: While cooking throughout the week, instead of tossing the tops and ends to all my veggies, I store a lot of them in a Tupperware in the freezer until I have a pot full to make veggie broth with. Toss veggie scraps in a pot, along with some fresh herbs, sea salt and garlic, then cover it all with water and boil for about 20 minutes. Let it cool, bottle it, and store in the fridge.
-Sauces: Whatever I am planning on eating for the week, I sometimes like to prepare the sauces in advance. Spaghetti sauce, tahini sauce, enchilada sauce, pad Thai sauce, etc. I’m crazy about this green tahini sauce right now (which can easily be doubled/tripled):
-2 Tablespoons Tahini
-1 handful of parsley or cilantro
-Juice squeezed from 1 lemon or lime (I find the lemon goes best with parsley, and lime with cilantro)
-1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
-Half a cup of filtered water
-2 cloves garlic
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
I don’t prepare ALL of these things every week; I pick and choose what I want that week, and generally my big batch of veggie burgers last a couple weeks. Except hummus, I make that AT LEAST once a week. Pick a few things and spend some time this Sunday preparing some of these items for your weeks meals. I additionally make my dinners extra large so I have leftovers for lunch to take to work the next day. Cook once, eat twice!
Some examples of an easy to throw together meal using the items prepared on batch cooking day:
-Cold quinoa, massaged kale, salad dressing, and spiralized zucchini . Then add some healthy fat, who doesn’t love avocado? Bam, lunch or dinner made in 5 minutes.
-Heat up some quinoa or rice and a baked sweet potato, toss some already chopped veggies in a pan with some coconut oil, rinse and add some canned garbanzo beans, and top with the green tahini sauce. Boom, dinner made in 10 minutes.
-At the end of the week, ill take all the leftover veggies, and toss em in some homemade broth with a can of beans, a can of tomatoes, some spices (love cumin), and cook up a leftover soup.
Mix and match your meals, experiment, and don’t forget to HAVE FUN in the kitchen, infuse your food with love and intention!