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5 Reasons Why You Should Try Batch Cooking

February 21, 2011

Five-Spice-Maple-Chicken-Braised-Cabbage-and-Salad-with-Steak

One of the best ways to take charge of your health is to prepare your own food. I happen to really enjoy cooking, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t spend all that much time in the kitchen. That’s because for the past couple of years, I’ve been batch cooking the majority of my meals once a week. This approach has worked so well for me that I have a hard time imagining going back to cooking daily. Here are 5 reasons why I think you’ll love batch cooking as much as I do:

1. You’ll eat healthier.

An empty fridge, or not having packed a lunch, may seem like a justifiable excuse to run out to the corner fast food joint – especially when you’re hungry. But willpower becomes superfluous when your next healthy meal is already waiting for you. You can be done eating by the time it’d take you to actually track down some junk food. And since you prepared it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it.

2. You’ll save time.

Even if you’re already committed to cooking and eating well, your best efforts can be easily derailed by a busy schedule. Not having enough time is probably the most common reason why people don’t cook regularly. The amount of time spent cooking one afternoon a week is much less than the cumulative time of cooking daily. Plus, you only have to do one shopping trip per week, which is a time saver in itself.

3. You’ll save money.

When you cook several different meals a week, you usually end up having to do multiple grocery store trips. This inevitably results in buying stuff that you don’t need. Even if you’re disciplined with your purchases, when you buy ingredients for one or two meals at a time, you can end up not using up each ingredient, and wasting food.

With batch cooking, since you know exactly what you’re cooking that week, down to every single ingredient, you only buy what you actually need. Additionally, you can buy ingredients in larger quantities, which typically means lower prices.

And of course it’s no secret that buying groceries and preparing food yourself is less expensive than dining out.

4. You’ll stress less.

“What’s for dinner?” will be one less thing to worry about. When you get home, your dinner will be waiting for you, and you’ll already have your lunch for the next day, too. Instead of spending your weeknights planning / shopping / cooking, you can just kick back and relax.

5. You’ll enjoy cooking more.

Spending a leisurely afternoon cooking makes cooking it more fun. You’ll have more time to experiment, try new recipes, and enjoy the process. Chances are you’ll actually look forward to your next cooking session, with new recipe ideas bouncing around your head during the week.

Ready to give it a try? Here’s My Approach

I devote one weekend afternoon to grocery shopping and cooking. I cook with a friend, which makes it more fun and saves even more money. We usually cook enough food to last each of us for about 4-5 days (one lunch dish and one dinner dish). If we make excess, we either eat it for the remainder of the week, or freeze it. This requires larger pots – a large Dutch oven has proven to be indispensable, along with a few other essentials. The food’s so delicious that I don’t at all mind eating the same thing several days in a row, and I still get variety in my diet by cooking something different each week. I know I wouldn’t be eating anywhere near as well if I didn’t cook this way. Give it a shot! Check out some more batch-cooking tips, or if you’re looking for some inspiration, I post what I cook up each week, along with recipes (like the Five Spice Maple Chicken, pictured above).

What has your experience been with batch cooking? Any tips for those who haven’t tried it yet?


Shared at Food Renegade, and Real Food Wednesdays.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kara June 23, 2011 at 11:42 PM

I need to do more batch cooking! I like the idea of making just one lunch and one dinner a week however my children would probably complain a lot after the 2nd or 3rd day. I think what would work for me is to make several portions and freeze them to be eaten throughout the month. Hmm… Now if I could only make myself do that.

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[email protected] June 25, 2011 at 8:23 AM

Hey Kara. It does take a little bit of getting used to. But now that I’ve gotten accustomed to not having to cook every night, it’d be difficult to go back. I think freezing is a good option. Cook for 3 days, and then as you accumulate frozen meals, serve those for a couple of days. As your kids get used to the new routine, maybe you’ll be able to sneak 4 days past them. I’m working on a post on batchcooking tips that you might find useful.

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Angeleen January 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Batch cooking is the best thing to do if you eat a specific diet, whether for health reasons or for losing weight. It definitely makes it harder to slip up, cheat, or go for something quick and unhealthy. Since I have a large family (four kids and significant other) we don’t batch cook dinner much… don’t think we have pans big enough to cook that much food! But I do batch cook my breakfasts. I make little mini egg cups with eggs and various items (green chiles, sausage, chorizo, bell pepper, onion, etc.). I can eat two a day for breakfast and freeze the rest if I don’t think I’m going to get to them right away!

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[email protected] January 23, 2012 at 5:50 PM

That’s great, Angeleen! And yah, those would be some epic-sized pots for a family with four kids! I guess you could use more than one large pot per dish, or just batch cook for fewer days. But it sounds like you have a system that works for you! :)

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Nicole Caulfield February 27, 2012 at 1:27 PM

I really really love batch cooking. My sister and I have a blog devoted to it! Great to see someone else doing it for all the same reasons.

I just wish I could come up with more kid-friendly batches. If you ever have any ideas send them my way!!

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[email protected] February 27, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Hey thanks for stopping by! How about meatza? :)

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LowCarbBlogs May 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Very good advice. So what do you eat for breakfast since you are only doing the batch cooking for lunch and dinner? :)

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[email protected] May 10, 2012 at 7:01 PM

I’m not very fussy about my breakfasts – they’re pretty boring. I typically either have a boiled sausage (natural) with some butter and maybe some sauerkraut, or some soft-boiled eggs.. but if you’d like a more interesting breakfast, you could easily add that into your batch cooking.. there are tons of recipes out there, especially for eggs – egg “muffins”, frittatas, etc.. really you could just batch cook an extra meal of something and have it for breakfast, there’s no such thing as a “breakfast” food – anything goes :)

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