Eating well is possible and one solution is the Batch Cooking method. And it seems that eating properly is synonymous with spending seven days a week in the kitchen, something that does not combine very well with lack of time. And those people who enjoy cooking know that it is not the same to do it pleasantly and with hours ahead, than with the hectic rhythm of the routine in which free time is conspicuous by its absence.
What is evident is that the way we feed ourselves matters. It is vital for good health and for the body to function properly, as well as to be able to have optimal levels of physical and mental energy. And to nourish ourselves, fast and ultra-processed food is not an option that can be sustained over time without suffering the consequences. But thinking about what to eat, do the shopping, prepare and cook the different meals adds a workload to us during the day for which many times there is neither time nor desire.
What is Batch Cooking and what are its benefits?
Batch Cooking or meal prep are concepts in English used to name a method that became fashionable a few years ago on social networks and that literally mean “cooking in batches”. Although it seems very modern, it is something that has been done “all our life.” This way of cooking is based on dedicating an afternoon, or a few hours of the same day, to the meal of the whole week, optimizing resources and cooking to the maximum. After several servings of food have been cooked, they are stored in the fridge or freezer for future consumption during the week.
The benefits of Batch Cooking are many:
- Eating healthy every day regardless of the time you have and fighting the laziness that makes you end up opting for options that are not beneficial for your health. Having all meals planned is ideal to follow a balanced and healthy diet, whatever the rhythm of the day.
- Saving money thanks to planning, which helps you avoid buying too much food and not throwing food away. Batch Cooking is also a way to save energy. When cooking several dishes at the same time in the oven, for example.
- Save time by spending a few hours on a single day of the week to prepare all your meals. This gives you more free time during the day, since you only have to spend five minutes and that’s it.
Steps to get started with Batch Cooking
Step 1: Planning
Plan a weekly menu to anticipate the dishes you are going to eat each day of the week. We propose to follow a dish that is composed of 50% vegetables, 25% protein, 25% complex carbohydrates and a good portion of healthy fats. Keeping this in mind, think about what ingredients your dishes are going to be made of on a day-to-day basis. We will choose a few, of which we will make several servings to make different combinations.
Step 2: Shopping
The second step is to make the shopping list when we have done all the planning for the weekly menu. First discard those ingredients that you already have in the fridge or pantry and go out to buy everything you need.
Step 3: Cooking
Turn on the radio, choose a podcast or put on music, because the time has come to cook and accompany it with something that interests you, it is a good option to enjoy while you cook. The principle of Batch Cooking is that whatever you prepare, it is important that it be done without dressings, oils, or sauces (except for stews) that will be added at the time of consumption. In this way, you can create different combinations with these “base foods”.
Sauté or steam the vegetables, boil the brown rice, the legumes, prepare a tomato sauce, wash and cut the vegetables and then eat them raw or to sauté, do the same with the fruits, make some hard-boiled eggs, a stew , a cream, etc. Take advantage of the oven to introduce several trays with different tubers and vegetables. Prepare the cooked fish, which lasts two days in the fridge, the meat that lasts four days… Everything you have planned in Step 1.
Step 4: Let cool and pack
First, let the food cool. Then, store them in different containers, depending on whether they will be stored in the fridge or freezer depending on how long each cooked ingredient can hold. If you keep it in the freezer, separate it into portions so that you only have to defrost what you are going to eat. Use airtight glass containers suitable for each type of culinary preparation that allow both to preserve food and to reheat safely in the case of using microwaves. Remember to label all containers with the date it was prepared.
Step 5: Eat!
Now that you have everything you need, it is time to eat. The options are endless and you can make many different combinations to make different dishes. The important thing is that there will always be variety, that they are healthy and balanced, with all the necessary nutrients. During the week, in just five minutes, you can prepare the dish that you most want with the ingredients that you already have in the fridge prepared.
As you put it into practice, you will be clear about what ingredients to use, the order to follow and the time you spend preparing each one of them. Therefore, a good advice is to start with those dishes that you usually prepare often, to have everything under control. When you adjust to the dynamics, allow yourself to vary in the basic ingredients, dressings and combinations.