Almost everyone wants to save money where they can, but food budgets, in particular, can end up being stretched to the limit by our busy lifestyles. Most of us don’t want to be cooking after a busy day and often end up ordering in takeaway or eating out on the way home to save time and energy. But there is a way to save both money and time if you’re willing to spend a day or two a month batch cooking!
For both Alex and I, batch cooking has been a significant thing for us in our lives and even as a child, I used to spend some weekends batch cooking and baking with my gran, storing the food in our big freezer in the garage. With my condition meaning that I have a lot less energy than most and fatigue is a big part of my life, I’m glad that batch cooking is something I was brought up with and something that Alex and I really enjoy doing together. Not only do we batch cook his work food for onboard, but we also batch cook for standbys and for when I’m on a bad day with pain or fatigue. However, we’re now also batch cooking meals ready for when our little one arrives because we both know that we’ll have even less time on our hands to cook fresh meals.
So how does one batch cook?
Batch cooking is one of those things where people often don’t know where or how to begin. So aside from it being a good idea to have a big freezer if you’re doing a lot of batch cooking in one go, here are some other tips to help you get started.
Decide on meals you know that you’ll eat!
Firstly, I’m planning a detailed post on this in a few weeks, so look out for that. But the first thing you want to do is get a list together of meals you enjoy eating. It could be anything from cottage pie to lasagne or curries. The trick here is to see what works for batch cooking. You then want to think about how many portions to make at a time. You’ll need to think about freezer space for this as well, as you’ll be storing the meal portions in there until they’re ready to be used. After that, create your shopping list of ingredients you’ll need and how much, then you’re good to go!
If you do get takeaways, and they come in plastic containers, save them for batch cooking! If not, then you can buy microwave-safe plastic containers relatively cheaply online and reuse them. If you don’t have a microwave or, like Alex, you’re food prepping for work and only have an oven available, then foil trays are your best friend! Because we batch cook Alex’s work food at the same time, we tend to do both; plastic containers for the portions that can be microwaved and foil trays for meals that not only is Alex is likely to take to work but can be popped in the oven at home if we fancy them there as well.
Get a whiteboard!
A small whiteboard in the kitchen is a godsend! Not only does it help you keep track of what is in your freezer, but it also helps you plan in advance for when you next need to batch cook. It also stops us from ordering in or going to the shop unnecessarily when we can see what is in the freezer without physically looking. When you batch cook, write down what you’ve made and how many portions, then each time you take meal portions out, just edit the number on the whiteboard. It’s that simple!
Use leftovers for weaning!
If you’re weaning your little one or starting in the next couple of months and find you have some leftovers that aren’t enough for an entire meal portion, you can make weaning portions out of them! Meals that work really well for this are curries, ratatouille, and pasta dishes. All you need to do is blend the leftovers and pop them into small containers (we suggest these ones as they’re microwave friendly and an ideal size for weaning portions).
Those are our tips for beginning to batch cook! If you have any extra suggestions on batch cooking, please leave them down in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to look out for our detailed blog post on how we make 25 meal portions for less than £15, which will be live in a couple of weeks!
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