The downside to being a student is that you’re often broke as well as short on time after rushing to lectures and getting that assignment in at the eleventh hour…but what if we told you there’s a really easy way to save both time and money? Welcome to batch cooking.
If you’re new to batch cooking, it’s basically cooking more food than you need and saving some for another day. It’s so easy to do, and there’s plenty of advantages. Batch cooking can range from just cooking twice the amount you need and keeping half in the fridge for the following day… Or, for batch cooking professionals, cooking your meals for the month in a single day! This is a bit extreme, but many families do this to make sure they’ve always got a healthy meal to hand. And if you’re going to the effort of cooking in the first place rather than banging some freezer food into the oven, batch cooking will make you feel like it’s all been worthwhile.
Here are just some of the main advantages to batch cooking:
Looking after the pennies
Buying food in bulk is cheaper than buying smaller amounts on a more regular basis, so you can save a lot of money by buying the ingredients all in one go and using them straight away to cook several meals. If you head down to the supermarket at the end of the day, you can often pick up some steals on food that’s about to go out of date too – which of course doesn’t matter if you’re on your batch cooking mission the same day! You don’t even have to cook the whole meal—a really popular way of batch cooking is to cook and freeze the main ingredients, then just defrost when they’re needed. For example, cooking a whole batch of minced beef with onions and freezing it in portions means you’ve already got the main ingredients for making shepherd’s pie, spag bol and chilli con carne ready to go. It couldn’t be simpler, just cook a big batch, divide into portions, pop into storage boxes, wait to cool then pop in the freezer!
If you’ve always got something for dinner in ready to go, you’re also less likely to ring for that takeaway pizza!
Having a ready-prepared meal means you won’t have to cook every night as most meals are usually really quick to reheat in the microwave. If you’ve pre-cooked bolognese, for example, you just need to boil a bit of spaghetti to go with it – meaning you’ll have a delicious healthy meal in minutes. By chopping and cooking all your ingredients the previous day, week or month, it’ll free up some time for speedy reheating when you’re busy.
Top tip – If you don’t have much space in your freezer, use food bags rather than boxes.
Batch cooking is ideal if you’re trying to be healthier, or trying to stick to a particular diet too. If your priority is weight loss, muscle gain or general health, you can tailor each meal to your diet, and have it ready when you need it, for example after your Monday Body Pump class or 5-a-side football. You’ll be much less likely to grab some fast food if you’ve got the ideal meal in the freezer!
Top tip – When following a recipe, the easiest way to bulk cook is to just use twice the ingredients to make twice as much, or quadruple them to have plenty of leftovers to freeze or have as lunches.
With autumn upon us and winter not too far away, it’s a great time to start thinking about homemade soups and casseroles, curries and bakes; all of which can be portioned out and popped in the freezer for another day. Looking for some more tips about batch cooking? Check out our full guide to healthy batch cooking.
And of course, we’ve got everything you need to make batch cooking easy – from pots and pans to a great range of freezer and microwave friendly containers to decant your homemade deliciousness into. Label it up and you’re good to go – just remember to take it out of the freezer before you shoot off to uni!