El método Batch Cooking

The Batch Cooking method is a tool to eat healthy without spending too much of your time. It is as simple as dedicating a few hours out of a single day to cook all the meals for the week. This way, you don’t invest so much time on a daily basis and you make sure you don’t end up cooking just anything in a hurry, which benefits your health. At the same time, this planning is a way of saving money and not wasting food, since the organization it proposes helps to buy only what is necessary. Improvements in time, health and money. Need more reasons to try the Batch Cooking method?

Steps to follow in the Batch Cooking method

To take full advantage of the Batch Cooking method, follow these steps:

  1. Review of the food you already have at home: If you know what you have, you can include it in the next step and take advantage of all the food. Check the pantry, the fridge and the places where you store your different foods. 
  2. Weekly menu planning: to buy only what you need and have a more balanced diet, because planning your daily meals allows you to have a global vision of all the nutrients you are going to eat.
  3. Shopping list with what you need: Once you have your weekly menu, make a list of all the foods you need. Proteins, fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc.
  4. Cooking: the step where the key to success is simultaneity. Cooking using at the same time all the possibilities that your kitchen offers: stove, food processor, oven, microwave, etc. 
  5. Conservation: this step is the last (but not the least important) and is carried out when everything is already cooled. Proper preservation is the key to keeping food longer and in perfect condition. 
Sample weekly menu

Our recommendation, after completing the first step, is to plan your weekly menu based on Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate. This includes vegetables, a portion of protein, whole grains and/or tubers and, finally, a healthy fat such as extra virgin olive oil.

An example of a weekly menu following this pattern would be:

Whatever your weekly menu is, it is based on basic preparations with which you can elaborate different combinations in your daily dishes. For the proposed example, we will cook two cereals (quinoa and rice), four vegetables (steamed broccoli and green beans, baked vegetables and roasted eggplants), one tuber (baked potatoes), proteins (hard-boiled eggs, hydrate and cook textured soybeans, clean and filet fish, cut ham) and sauces. There are ten preparations in this case, but eight would be enough.

General tips for the Batch Cooking method

Once the shopping is done, we can move on to the next step, which is cooking. Regardless of the weekly menu you prepare, you will do well to follow these tips:

Clean vegetables and fruits that you will consume raw or that you will sauté. It saves a lot of time. It is normal to eat more raw foods during the summer and less during the winter. Wash, dry and store in different containers so that when you want to consume them or add them to your dishes, they are ready. 

Make a vegetable stock with the offal of the vegetables, meat or fish. You can use it to prepare creams although, if you prefer, you can store bricks of broth already prepared to save you this elaboration. 

– Cereals such as brown rice, black rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc. Cook them while you prepare other dishes, but remember only to cook them without adding dressings or sauces if you want them to last longer.

– Think about what protein you will eat each day and the most you can do to save time. In the case of legumes, cook the same type for the whole week or always have cooked canned legumes on hand. In the case of eggs, cook them and store them in their shells. Texturized soybeans, have them already hydrated or cooked in a tomato sauce. You can bake the fish or leave it already cleaned and cut, if you are going to cook it at the moment of consumption. The same with meat.

– As for sautéing, clean, chop and store all the ingredients in an individual container so that you only have to pour them into the pan later.

– You can leave the dressings prepared and stored in different jars. The same goes for sauces, which you can make more and freeze for the following weeks. We recommend you to economize by recycling the glass jars of vegetables, olives, pickles, etc. and using them for storage. 

– Prepare the steamed or cooked vegetables, making sure they are well drained before placing them in the container. Puedes hervir una variedad de verdura y usar la misma olla para hacer de otro tipo al mismo tiempo.

– For baked foods such as vegetables, root vegetables, fish or other ingredients, introduce different baking trays at the same time and remove them when they are ready. Potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, introduce them whole and with the skin washed so that they are better preserved later.

– As for the use of the kitchen, we will use the same mantra: cook simultaneously. If you have four burners, an example would be to use one for cooking cereal, another for boiling eggs, the third for boiling a type of vegetable and the fourth for cooking a sauce. 

– As they finish cooking, strain and place them in different glass containers and, if they are not, place them on a plate and wait for them to cool. Once cool, you can put them in the lunch box.

– Some people prefer to make the recipe already finished and keep it, but it will last less time in good condition in the refrigerator. Our advice is to make basic preparations, without garnishes and, on a day-to-day basis, to finish the dish in a matter of five minutes.

– Another option is to prepare the complete recipe and freeze it. In this way, you will only have to remove it from the freezer the night before and heat it at the moment of consumption. A tip is that, if you prefer this option, store the food in individual portions to defrost only what you need for each meal and leave the rest frozen for consumption at another time.

Conservation times

To ensure that the food lasts long enough for the whole week, it is important to have good containers in which to store all the food in perfect conditions. It is essential that the containers do not allow odors or flavors to penetrate and that they are 100% airtight so that no air can enter. The better you preserve food, the better condition it will be in and the longer it will last.

If you decide to keep food in the refrigerator instead of freezing it, the ideal is to plan the weekly menu according to the shelf life of the food. At the beginning of the week, consume the more delicate ones and later the more durable ones. The order would be:

  1. Seafood
  2. Fish
  3. Meat
  4. Eggs
  5. Vegetables, cereals and legumes

The approximate shelf life, in a refrigerator at <39.2 °F, is as follows:

  • Steamed vegetables 4 days
  • Baked vegetables 4-5 days
  • Baked root vegetables with skin 4 days
  • Cooked vegetables 3 days
    Cooked rice 3-4 days 
  • Cooked egg in shell 1 week
  • Raw meat, chopped or minced 2 days
  • Fileted meat 3-5 days
    Cooked meat 3-4 days
  • Raw fish 1-3 days
  • Cooked fish 2-3 days
  • Seafood 1-2 days
  • Soups and stews 4 days

Make your own Batch Cooking method

There is no single way to carry out the Batch Cooking method. Each person must find the formula that works best for him/her and with which he/she feels most comfortable. There will be people who prefer to freeze all dishes, others who choose fewer base foods, others who prefer more toppings…. The important thing is not to forget any food group in order to prepare complete dishes, cook simultaneously and adapt Batch Cooking to the possibilities offered by the kitchen, depending on the utensils at your disposal.

We encourage you to find a Batch Cooking method that suits you!