If you had told me a year ago that every Sunday I would be regularly batch cooking my meals for the entire week, I would have said that you merely had a pipe dream. I assumed then that batch cooking must involve strenuous hours in the kitchen, eating up an entire day of my precious weekend. Though this length of time may be true for the first few times you batch cook, it eventually will become easy to only use a few hours to cook meals and snacks ahead for the entire week.
When I batch cook, I find that it saves me time throughout the week and I’ll naturally opt for healthier lunch and dinner options simply because they’re already prepared. Plus, when you have no real rush during cooking (unlike when your stomach is rumbling on a busy weeknight) there’s plenty of time to be creative and try new things in the kitchen.
While it might seem intuitive to just jump in and start cooking, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that can help you quickly begin food prepping for the week with ease.
- Start With a Clean Kitchen
It seems like common sense, right? But there have been plenty of times I’ve begun cooking with the sink half full of dishes and quickly regretted my decision. It’s harder to find space to drain pasta, fill up large pots, or throw your newly dirty dishes into. Just take the 15 minutes ahead of time to wash a load of dishes and wipe down the counter. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Strategize Your Recipes
Once you’ve chosen your recipes for the week and done all the grocery shopping, it’s time to make a game plan. You can either print out each recipe, or, like me, just have them all open on your computer. I look at each recipe, ordering them from the most to least amount of cooking times, and then figure out what needs to be started first. You wouldn’t want to begin your recipe that takes two hours at the very end of your cooking session. The easiest thing (for me) is to start my basics first (baking potatoes, cooking grains or legumes, marinating tofu, etc.) and then begin making more specific components of recipes.
- Wear Shoes
I feel a bit silly putting this in the list, but it’s not something I thought about when I first started meal prepping. I don’t wear shoes at home, or in my kitchen, so why start now? Well standing up for two or three hours on a hard wooden floor will definitely come back to bite you the next day. I quickly learned my lesson thanks to aching feet, and now wear sturdy tennis shoes every time I know I’ll be cooking more than one meal. For extra comfort, think about purchasing a kitchen mat too.
- Invest in Containers
My kitchen is constantly overflowing with colorful bowls, plates, and other fun dishes. I didn’t think I’d need to buy any containers since I’m already a bit of a Pyrex pack rat, but I quickly got tired of putting plastic wrap and foil on the many lidless plates and bowls I own. If you don’t own products specifically designed for storage, you might end up wanting to invest in some. I snagged 10 three-cup Pyrex containers during a sale at Target and they’re the perfect size for lunches. That way, between Peter and I, we have the right amount of containers to pack five lunches ahead for our workweek.
- Keep Yourself Entertained
If you’re a cooking novice, it might take your full concentration to make each recipe. But if you’re comfortable in the kitchen, you may find your mind wandering while you cube a five-pound bag of potatoes, or roll a dozen burritos for the freezer. Keep yourself upbeat and high-energy by listening to fun music (Disney, anyone?) or occupying your mind with an intriguing podcast. For true crime buffs I recommend The Generation Why or Sword & Scale, or for those wanting to take the foodie route, A Taste of the Past and Gravy Audio are great listens.