Have you ever tried cooking bulk meals on a Sunday, so you have food for the week? Often referred to as the Sunday Cook Up, it entails spending about 2 hours, batch cooking meals, that you get several servings out of. It means having go-to containers filled with prepped meals for the week. NB: it doesn’t have to be on a Sunday!
Trust me when I say this, once you get into a groove of washing, chopping, grating, roasting, and being ready for the week ahead, your life will feel so much easier. You can always start off with just getting your lunches and snacks organized until you are confident, and then expand to getting dinners ready to go.
Personally, I find breakfasts and dinners the most challenging meals to prepare, in terms of time constraints, but for the sake of keeping things simple, this post will cover a week’s worth of lunches.
Now before we dive into the How To’s, let’s first look at the benefits.
Benefits of batch cooking
- You are less likely to buy foods that aren’t healthy. There aren’t always healthy choices near to our places of work, so by having a healthy, well-balanced meal waiting in the fridge, you won’t need to agonize over what you’re having for lunch
- Saves you time throughout the week
- You are more likely to save money, by not buying expensive lunches or unhealthy take-outs. We can so easily spend our week’s worth of grocery money on buying lunch daily
- You are less likely to binge your way through the week. It’s so easy to grab convenience foods when we are busy at work, often choosing sugar or salty snacks, that play havoc with our waistlines and blood sugar levels
- And if you can, try and purchase your veg from a farmers market, which means you are supporting local growers and not the big supermarket chains and thus limiting the carbon footprint impact
Decide what meals you are going to prepare. I like to use a meal planner so I can write each day’s lunches down. Ideally you’d want to create meals that you can mix and match, so you don’t get bored eating the same meals. You also have the option of cooking a huge pot of say, soup or curry, which can be portioned out and frozen to be eaten the following week (thus batch cooking for 2 weeks!).
I write down all the ingredients I am going to need, on my shopping list. And off I go to the market / supermarket to get all my goodies.
Ideas for meals you can cook batches of:
- Roast Vegetables (click here for recipes)
- Slow Roasted Meat (click here for recipes)
- A large vegetable curry
- Lentil dahl
- A large vegetable soup
- Large salad (keep dressing separate until ready to eat)
- Portions of brown rice / quinoa
- Boiled eggs
Snacks – important to have on hand
- Trail mix (i.e. seeds, nuts, goji berries, shredded coconut
- Apple and nut butter
- Small bag of chopped up vegetables and humus
- A couple of crackers and cheese
- Boiled egg
- Greek yoghurt and banana
- Green smoothie
- Quarter of an avocado, mashed up and eaten as a dip (or home-made guacomole)
My ideal meal week
Portion of vegetable curry, portion of rice, blob of yoghurt (all separate containers)
Snacks – banana and trail mix
Portion of roast vegetables, portion of slow roasted meat, handful of salad
Snacks – Apple and nut butter and chopped veg with humus
Portion of vegetable curry, portion of quinoa, blob of yoghurt (all separate containers)
Snacks – Trail mix, Greek yoghurt and banana
Portion of roast veg, portion of rice, humus and a side of salad
Snacks – Boiled egg, fruit
Portion of lentil dahl (from the previous weeks cook up), portion of rice and a blob of yoghurt
Snacks – apple and nut butter, chopped veg and humus
And there you have it. Once you start to get confident about preparing a weeks worth of meals in a couple of hours, you can start adding in meals for dinner and breakfasts. I should warn you, be prepared for a bit of a messy kitchen while all this is going on!
Happy batch cooking