Who wants to save time and money and waste less food? I know I do! By meal prepping and batch cooking, you spend a little more time and money up front in order to save those precious commodities down the line. As a bonus, the food you buy is used, not left to sit around and go bad because you forget about it or can’t decide what to do with it. In the practice of food prepping and batch cooking, a plan is formed and executed and the efficiency that results eases financial stress, time stress and general stress while promoting a more gratifying food experience. For Paleo peeps struggling with increased time spent in the kitchen on a daily basis food prepping and batch cooking can be especially rewarding.
Meal Prep involves assembling part or all of your meal(s) beforehand to minimize the work required right before sitting down to eat. This might be as simple as washing and chopping veggies to store for later use or it might be the complicated assemblage of a whole meal so all that’s left to do is to heat and eat at the appropriate time.
Batch cooking involves multiplying servings of meals or making multiple different meals for a week or for several weeks all at one time. You can think of it as food prep on steroids. I know people who batch cook a month of meals and snacks at a time!
10 Tips for Successful Meal Prep and Batch Cooking:
- Have a plan. As you can imagine, batch cooking a month of meals takes major planning but even a small plan to prep a few meals can make your Paleo kitchen life easier. If you follow our Meal Plan, you know that we always provide prep tips. You can expand on those tips or create your own prep schedule from your customized Meal Plan. Remember that you can prep snacks as well as meals.
- Time. Set aside a few chunks of time for planning, shopping and cooking. Some people like to do all their shopping in one day, and all their prep and cooking on another day. Others prefer to do all the work in one day or break it up into several days. How you organize the work is completely up to you.
- Get organized and comfortable in the kitchen. Have your chopping boards, knives, gadgets and appliances etc., clean and within easy reach. Turn on some music, get into your “cooking zone” and consider it quality YOU time! It’s a time to ensure that you’ll be setting yourself and loved ones up for nutritional success in the days and weeks ahead.
- Plan to use all available cooking methods such as the oven, stovetop, slow cooker (I have two and often use them together!) pressure cooker, and blender. In our Paleo Plan Meal Plans, we often provide slow cooker recipes for you on the weekends so you’ll have extras during the week. By the way, a great way to prep any slow cooker meal is to assemble everything in the slow cooker bowl and refrigerate the whole thing until the day you plan to serve it. On that day, just take the bowl out of the refrigerator and pop it into the cooker!
- Have enough storage containers on hand for your prepped items such as Tupperware, glass containers and freezer bags. When possible, choose containers that can perform triple duty: freezing, thawing and reheating, to minimize clean up.
- If you’re planning on freezing meals for later eats, choose freezable recipes such as stews, soups, chilis, casseroles, breads and other baked items. At Paleo Plan, we have plenty of delicious freezable Paleo meals in our Recipe Center.
- For convenience, freeze meals in usable portions. You can even freeze things like bone broth in ice cube trays to add a burst of flavor and nutrition to meals at any time.
- Label everything! This is particularly important for frozen items that you won’t be seeing again for a few months. Make sure you label items with their name, date and any additional recipe or reheating instructions necessary.
- Keep in mind that spices as well as salt can pack a different punch the more you multiply them. Start with less seasoning than straight math dictates and taste as you go along as long as it’s safe to do so. You can always add more seasoning as needed.
- Careful when doubling or tripling baked goods. For instance, coconut flour does not always multiply with reliable results. You may have to experiment a bit to get your favorite baked recipes just right.
Food Prep and batch cooking can be as simple as boiling up a dozen eggs and baking a few sweet potatoes for the days ahead or as complicated as putting together and storing an entire month of meals and snacks. Find what works for you to keep kitchen time relaxed and help you stay the Paleo course. It’s a journey worth traveling!