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).