Happy New Year! What better way to start the New Year then batch cooking and prepping for the week ahead. Since adopting a whole food plant based diet – WFPB – I have found that batch cooking makes my life so much easier. Once a week I spend 4-5 hours cooking and prepping food that we can then reheat and eat the rest of the week. We mix and match things from the fridge and come up with all kinds of combinations that are quite satisfying and filling. Perhaps you will find batch cooking simplifies your life as well.
Top left is Quinoa Butternut Squash Chili, in the red pot is Winter Vegetable Soup, these can be served in different ways like over a baked potato, a sweet potato, over brown rice, wild rice or cooked oat groats and they can be topped with cooked greens.
Corn on the cob cooked in the Breville Air Fryer, eaten as is or cut off the cob and added to my Big Beautiful Salads – 7 salads to go in the fridge and one for my lunch today. Tom and I really enjoy the Chopped Salads these days – they are so filling and flavorful. You can come up with so many different combinations you will never get bored with your salad.
Japanese sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and a few Hannah Yams all oven roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. We prefer all of our sweet potatoes cooked this way as they become really sweet and delicious! These can be eaten by themselves, as snacks or topped with various soups, beans and greens or cut up and added to salads or with quinoa and veggies for a meal. Take a sweet potato – any kind that is already oven roasted cut in half and warm it in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. It gets all crispy on the outside and all warm on the inside – sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon and a drizzle of a flavored vinegar like Pumpkin Spice or Maple – that is dessert. Sometimes I cut a cold oven roasted Japanese sweet potato in half and flatten it using my hand, then air fry it for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. It is so delicious this way! The photo on the lower right is a Japanese Sweet Potato on a bed of spinach topped with BBQ Lentils over the top. Take any of the precooked potatoes and cut them into fry shapes and fry them in the air fryer for 20 minutes at 400 degrees – best fries ever! Air fried potato chunks or fries are scrumptious in a Burrito Bowl or a Nourish Bowl in place of rice. One of my quick and easy meals is a Mexican Stuffed Potato.
In the casserole dish I had some yellow squash that needed to be cooked so I sliced it and added some little tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh garlic cloves and chopped red bell pepper roasted in the Breville Smart Oven Air on the roast setting for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. It can be veggies for breakfast, served over brown rice, quinoa or a topping for a baked potato, yummy on top of my salad too.
I like to use containers that I can see through so when we open the fridge we can see what ingredients we have to make a meal out of. I have purchased two sets of the Glass Containers with Snapware Lids. I use the Rubbermaid BPA Free Plastic Containers to freeze soup, stew, chili, rice and other items. Our one pound salads fit nicely in the Ziploc 9 cup containers and they stack nicely in the fridge which makes storage easier. We store all of our cooked potatoes in the fridge in open containers and stand them on end so they don’t get smashed. They last a good 7-10 days this way.
These containers each contain 4 cups of stew, chili, soup or marinara sauce, broth or whatever we have extra of that needs to be frozen. I buy these Ball Dissolvable Labels so we know what’s in them and the date they were made. The containers stack and hold up well. I don’t put them in the dishwasher – I had wash them and the labels do dissolve easily.
We make a large batch of brown rice in our rice cooker then divide it up into containers and freeze it. It’s a big time saver. For rice we prefer the 4 cup rectangular containers. If we forget to thaw out rice you can still break off a chunk of it frozen and thaw it out in the microwave easily.
This is what the fridge looks like after batch cooking is complete. I love opening the fridge and seeing all this food ready to heat and eat! It keeps us on track and we don’t have to worry about what’s for lunch or dinner. I almost always have a salad for my lunch – it’s simple, easy and quick because I have it already to go. I do make salads twice a week – the prepped ones are good for 3-4 days. For dinner we will have a starch, greens, a soup, chili, lentils or beans. Fruit for dessert, raw veggies, a potato or fruit for a snack if we are hungry.
This is one shelf of our big freezer in the garage. Every week when I batch cook some of the soup, stew, chili or whatever I make goes in the freezer. This way we don’t have to eat the same thing for days on end. It also gives us such a nice variety to choose from. Sometimes Tom and I don’t want the same thing and this way we can each have what we want! Even if we don’t have time to cook or one of us gets sick we still have healthy food on hand to heat and eat.
In addition to my usual batch cooking during the week as needed I will make Donna’s Cheeze Sauce, Creamy Balsamic Dressing, ketchup, quinoa, wild rice, veggie burgers, lentil loaf, Chef AJ’s Millet Oat Muffins or her CRAM Muffins and prep fresh fruit or raw veggies for snacking.
If you don’t have a 4-5 hours window of time you can still batch cook. Every time you make an entree like veggie burgers, lentil loaf, soup, stew or chili make a double batch and freeze it. When I make veggie burgers I will make 24 at a time and those might last us 2-3 months. It doesn’t take much longer to make a double batch than it does a single batch and I only have to clean up the kitchen that one time but I get twice as much food for the effort. If you always make extra pretty soon you will have a nice variety of food prepped ahead.
In the evening while before you start prepping dinner perhaps you can put a tray or two of potatoes in the oven to bake. One day a week could you make a double batch of chili and freeze some? If you make hummus make a double batch and freeze one. yes hummus freezes really well. Start thinking about how you can save time in the kitchen by working smarter not harder.
I have read that most people have about 10-12 meals that they rotate on a regular basis. When I think back to when I was raising my kids that surely was the case. Today even though we are following a plant based lifestyle that is still true. Now every once in a while I do try a new recipe that gets tossed into the rotation but we still enjoy a fairly simple day to day menu. I find myself making the same recipes over and over because we like the food we eat!
Through out the course of the day we have to continually make decisions, it starts when the alarm goes off and we decide if we are getting up right then or not. We decide what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what to feed the kids, what to make for their school lunch and on and on it goes through out the day. By the time you get done with work and get back home you are tired and hungry.
Often times people say they do really well on their food plan all day long but by evening they blow it. There is something called decision fatigue. After having to make decisions all day long your brain is tired, your resolve gets thin and your will power is diminished. Even the simple task of making dinner may feel overwhelming. If you batch cook ahead at least you don’t have to worry about what you are going to eat. If healthy food is readily available guess what you will eat – yes healthy food! That old saying “fail to plan, plan to fail” is true.
I have added a Batch Cooking tab in the recipe files and will be putting all the batch cooking blog posts there so they are easier to find. Click on the Recipe tab at the top of this page, click on Plant Strong Recipes, under Cooking Method you will see Batch Cooking.
I now have an Amazon Recommendations Page! It has the items on it that I use and I will be adding items to it as I discover new things that make this lifestyle easier. When you purchased Amazon items through my links you help support my work here without any extra cost to you. If you want to find the link in the future just click on the Shop tab at the top of this page. Thank you for your support.
I hope that this post was helpful and will get you started thinking about how you can incorporate batch cooking into your life.
Happy healthy cooking!
A Little Nutmeg Nugget: When I started this blog in January of 2010 I followed what I understood to be a healthy version of the standard American diet, ironically also known as the “SAD” diet. As interest in my own health and how it was affected by the food I ate evolved, I transitioned to a whole food plant based diet also known as “WFPB” diet. I have wrestled with the fact that this blog still contains all those posts and recipes from the SAD way of eating I have left behind. I no longer advocate for anyone to eat that way. At this time I am leaving those recipes and posts here. It is a record of my journey and how I came to follow a WFPB way of eating. It is my hope that those who still come here for those old recipes will be curious about what I am doing now. Perhaps they will dip their toes across the line as I did and try some plant based recipes and learn more about the health benefits.
Wonderful post, Tami! I love your batch cooking posts. Even though you’ve done several, I learn something new from each one. I’m kind of poky in the kitchen, so it always blows me away to see how much you make in your sessions! I definitely need help in organizing my time. Keeping the tv/computer off would probably help me to speed up too ! 🙂
Thanks for another great post, Tami and Tom (the hidden partner)!
I always start with the potatoes and rice first because once you get them going they don’t need any attention. Then I move on to the more involved foods. If I am making two soups that both require onion, celery and carrots I chop the amount needed for both at the same time. Its these little things that make it go faster.Then while the potatoes and soups are cooking I can make the salads. Does that help? I am so glad you enjoy this type of post. Thank you for the feedback!
I really like your posts.
Do you mind sharing what kind of rice cooker you use?
Thank you so much for your kind comment. I use an Aroma Rice Cooker and also sometimes cook rice in my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker.
Happy Cooking, Tami