Looking for batch cooking tips? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. It’s a fact that having a jam-packed schedule can make you feel as if you no longer have any time to do anything else at all—let alone prepare your own meals.
Indeed, cooking can be a tiring endeavour when you consider its repetitiveness. There’s also the tedium of preparing the ingredients; just thinking about all the peeling, chopping, slicing, and dicing you need to do can be exhausting.
Fortunately, there’s this thing called batch cooking. When you prepare more food less often, you can be “one and done” with your meals for an entire week or two. Then, you can allocate some of your time to do your hobbies or simply rest and recover your energy.
Here are 7 tips to keep in mind so you can make your batch cooking sessions even more efficient:
1. Stick to the Recipes You Know
When you batch cook, it can be tempting to experiment with new dishes. However, this is not a good idea because one mistake can ruin not just one meal but a week’s worth of it. Take off your adventurous foodie hat when batch cooking and stick to your simple, tried-and-tested recipes. Leave the experimenting for single-serve meals; once you master new recipes, then that’s the time you can proceed with batch-cooking them.
2. Find Ingredients on Sale
If you want to save even more time and money when batch cooking, consider purchasing ingredients during a clearance sale. This way, you can buy in bulk and enjoy bigger discounts.
Of course, the key to getting the most out of clearance sales is to be more discerning of the products, particularly for products like meat, fruits, and vegetables. Take a little time to inspect for blemishes, odd smells, and other signs of food going bad. If you find no issues, go ahead and buy the lot. You don’t have to worry about shelf life too much, since the ingredients are going straight into the pan or pot anyway!
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Convenience Foods
When you think about cooking in general, you probably imagine prepping everything from scratch. This is probably one of the reasons why you think or feel that cooking is a chore. However, you don’t actually have to make everything yourself. There are plenty of things that you can buy pre-made, which you can then add to whatever you’re batch-cooking.
For example, if the recipe calls for pesto, you can simply buy a jar or bottle of it and use that instead of making your own. No need to buy garlic, pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, hard cheese, and olive oil. The same goes for things like different types of sauces, mixed vegetables, and roasted chicken.
The bottom line? If you can buy it pre-made, do so. You’ll save more time and money this way, which are among the ultimate goals of batch cooking!
4. Get a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is one of the best investments you can make to transform your kitchen experience, especially if you’re planning on batch cooking meals. With a slow cooker, you can quite literally toss everything in one pot and forget about it. Stews and curries are just a few of the things you can make in big batches using a slow cooker.
5. Store Them Right
Once you’re done with batch cooking, make sure to store them using proper containers. Depending on the food, you can use plastic or glass containers, jars, and freezer bags. (You might even find quality storage options during clearance sales!)
Also, it’s important not to place food in the fridge immediately after cooking. Doing so will raise the temperature inside the refrigerator, which can affect other items stored inside. It will also make the refrigerator work harder to restore the temperature back to its usual level, which results in energy wastage.
The best thing to do is to transfer large batches of food into smaller containers, then let them cool down for about an hour. Once the food is warm or at room temperature, pop the containers in the fridge. Don’t let cooked food stay unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours to prevent the growth of bacteria.
6. Remember to FIFO
FIFO stands for “first in, first out.” When applied to your batch-cooked dishes, this simply means eating the oldest things first. Placing labels on the containers is the best and simplest solution for this. Add “cooked on” and “eat by” dates to minimise confusion.
7. There are “Right” Recipes for Batch Cooking
Another important thing to remember about batch cooking is that you shouldn’t do it for ALL dishes. Soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, and roasts are perfect for large servings. Boiled potatoes, on the other hand, don’t freeze well. Thus, it’s best to cook the base in batches (e.g., stew) and then add these ingredients later when it’s time to serve.
You can also batch cook baked goods like cookies or muffins, but be careful to follow the right proportions so you’ll achieve the same results. For other baked treats, it’s better to cook them in single batches.
Cooking can be time-consuming but with batch cooking, you can be sure you’ll always have delicious, home-cooked meals anytime, no matter how busy you are.
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