Do you dislike cooking? Or maybe you just don’t have the time? Well, there’s an easy solution to that: batch cooking. This easy technique is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: You cook (or prepare) a lot of the same thing so you have multiple servings that you can use as needed. You can keep them in the fridge to be used throughout the week or even wrap them up and stick them in the freezer for later.
Granted, this technique doesn’t work for every meal or every type of food, but there are plenty of useful ingredients and meals that are really easy to batch cook or prepare in advance. Here’s a few to get you started:
Chicken is one of the best things to batch cook because it offers so much variety. You can chop it up to add to a salad, slice it for a sandwich, or use it in soups or pastas. Chicken is also great for Mexican-style dishes like tacos, fajitas, or even on nachos. Plus, you can just eat it as is as a main for one of your meals. Batch cooking chicken is also very easy - it’s not really much extra work to put a couple of extra chicken breasts in the oven!
2. Bolognese sauce
Homemade bolognese sauce is always better than anything you can buy from the store, and while it may be time-consuming, the taste is worth it. But that doesn’t mean you need to make it fresh every single time you feel like spaghetti for dinner. Double or even triple your bolognese recipe the next time you make it, and when it’s cooled, portion it out into good quality reusable containers that you can freeze. The next time you crave spaghetti, just pull the sauce out of the freezer to defrost.
3. Soup and stock
Soups are another easy meal to batch cook. Again, it really just involves buying and prepping extra ingredients and doubling (or tripling) the recipe, so it’s not much more actual work. Most soups will keep in your fridge for a couple of days, and many you can even freeze while fresh to eat at a later date. If you don’t love the idea of freezing the finished soup, you can just freeze the stock if you make your own, which will help speed up the soup-making process.
4. Baked pastas and casseroles
Pasta isn’t traditionally a meal you would batch cook to freeze for later; however, baked pastas and casseroles are really good for this. Since there tends to be more moisture in these meals compared to a typical plate of pasta, they work well when it comes to reheating. If you plan on freezing the dish, don’t bake it first. Instead, prepare it and put it in the freezer uncooked, then let it defrost and bake when you want to use it. This way it will retain more moisture.
Meatballs are another great option that gives you some variety when it comes to making meals. They are easy to make in advance and freeze while raw, and then when you’re ready to use them, just take out and thaw however many you need and cook them as you see fit. Meatballs can be eaten on their own, used in soups, on a sandwich, or put into pasta sauce.
6. Pulled pork
If you are looking for something stress-free to make for family lunches for a couple of days, then pulled pork is a great option. Most recipes call for it to be made in a slow cooker (as a bonus, this cooking method doesn’t require much effort!) plus it’s easy to make into sandwiches which are perfect for meals on the go.
7. Rice and quinoa
Grains are a great option for batch cooking, and can be frozen as well. Reheating them is simple and is best done right before you’re ready to serve the meal rather than letting them thaw beforehand. You can use your pre-cooked rice or quinoa however you want; add them to soups, use them as a base for a bowl or a stir-fry, or just eat them as a side. You may want to add a little moisture while reheating on stovetop or microwave (a little bit of water will do the trick, but you can also use a bit of butter or a flavorful oil if you want to dress them up a bit).
Save yourself some effort and work later - the next time you decide to make any of these foods, do yourself a favour and cook an extra batch!
Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog
Eat Sleep Breathe Travelwhere she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.