5 Easy Ways to Start Batch Cooking

We get it – it’s hard to find time to cook healthy meals. Utilizing a couple of hours of the weekend can get a big chunk of your meals cooked and portioned for the week. This saves time and energy and increases the likelihood that you will be eating well-balanced meals during the workweek. Here are 5 easy ways to incorporate healthier meals quickly and easily with batch cooking!

1. Plan ahead

Take some time to jot down ideas for what you will plan to eat for the week. If the idea of meal planning is overwhelming, sometimes it can be helpful to pick a theme for each weekday dinner like Taco Tuesday or Stir-fry Friday. Also keep in mind your personal food likes and dislikes. Does the idea of eating the same lunch every day for a week make you feel a little sad? Do you hate casseroles? Make sure to account for those feelings, because after a day or two you might just chuck your prepped meals in the trash and head to the nearest fast food place. 

Pro-tip: Before you jump into batch cooking, make sure you have the space in your refrigerator and freezer to store all the food you cook. It’s also a good idea to invest in some higher quality leak proof storage containers to portion out lunches.  

2. Go shopping

Check out the sales flyer for your regular grocery store to see what’s on sale and use that to guide your batch cooking for the week. You can use common sale items such as meats or veggies in multiple meals and stock up on long lasting foods such as grains and beans. Most grocery stores sell already prepped veggies, so if you need 8 onions, consider buying a bag of frozen chopped onions to save yourself from an afternoon of tears. 

3. Cook now, assemble later

Some meals can come together quickly if the longer-cooking components are ready to go. Things like cooked brown rice and already prepped raw veggies help make stir-fry in a flash. You can make a big batch of roasted veggies to add to quick cooking proteins like fish or tofu.  Having pre-cooked proteins on hand like shredded chicken, baked tofu, and hard-boiled eggs help you assemble fast meals like tacos or salads. Kids can even help with prep like peeling veggies, mixing things, tearing up lettuce, or measuring ingredients.   

4. Better batch meals

Choose meals that lend themselves well to batch cooking and avoid foods that don’t reheat well (don’t be the person to put fish in the office microwave!). Here are some ideas to get you started:

Stews, curries, chili: Vegetarian Lentil Chili, 1 Pot Tikka Masala, Vietnamese Cinnamon Braised Beef Stew (Thit Bo Kho)

Casseroles: Shepherd’s Pie, Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole

Sturdy Salads: Emerald City Salad, Curried Cauliflower Grape Lentil Salad

Grain bowls: Kale and Chickpea Grain Bowl with Avocado Dressing, Chicken Gyro Bowls

Kid-friendly: Chicken Bites, Meatballs, Zucchini Tots, Black Bean Taquitos

5. Keep it safe

Once you have all your batch cooking done, those meals will only last in the fridge 3-4 days in the fridge before going bad. If you are planning on cooking for the whole week, portion out some of those meals or meal components (such as cooked brown rice) into single servings and stick in the freezer. 

Need a meal planning guide or want more ideas to get started with batch cooking? Chat with one of our Health Coaches!

Image of Brook Health Expert Kelsea
Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN​

on March 30th, 2020. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Health Coaches.