I made my first attempt at solo batch cooking recently. In 3 hours I made lasagna, Thai beef, and assembled a BBQ chicken dish in the crock pot. Why do this? Previously I had a job where I worked two to three days a week. That left me plenty of time to shop and putz around in the kitchen. Now I’ve transitioned to five (FIVE!) days a week. When I get home from work and the gym I don’t feel like cooking anything. With batch cooking when I feel like that I just remember that I only need to do a little bit. Tonight when I get home I just have to cook some rice and heat up the Thai beef. Yay!
Previously I’ve done batch cooking with friends. We call the event Megafood. It deserves a name and a capital letter. We can manage about the same amount of meals in the same amount of time (although I distinctly remember a time when we attempted five recipes), but there is socializing, delegation, and fun at the same time. Alone it was less than fun but still highly productive. Here are my tips if you if you attempt the endeavor yourself.
- Find a friend. Cooking is more fun with a friend. Maybe they aren’t the cooking type at all, but they could still help you get ingredients, package food, and put it away when you’re done. A little help goes a long way and company is always welcome.
- Go grocery shopping a day or two ahead of time. Shopping and cooking in one day is just too much. The only reason I’d suggest you do it the day of is if you don’t have enough space to store the food. In that case it looks like you’re shopping and cooking in the same day. Once you think you are done shopping please double check the ingredients. It’s better to know if you’re missing something before you get started.
- Set aside the correct amount of time. I’d say plan on at least three hours for three recipes. Don’t plan on cooking late into the night unless you are a night owl. If you’re done early you can adjust the time or plan more complicated recipes for next time. Don’t forget you’ll have quite a mess to clean up as well. You won’t want to leave that for another day.
- Make sure you have clean dishes and your space is ready to go. This may mean running the dishwasher ahead of time or cleaning off the counter tops. You won’t want to stop to do this half way through the process.
- If you have leftover raw ingredients then cut them up and package them. For instance, if you have a few carrots left, rinse, peel, and cut them up for a salad or a snack. They are much more appealing when you’re hungry if they are ready to go. Go ahead and cut up that extra half of onion as well. You might want to throw it in your omelet on Saturday. But if you have to stop to cut it up it may be disregarded and then end up in a fuzzy lump in the fridge.
- Go big! If you’ve got the space make two pans of lasagna instead of one. It only takes a fraction of the time to make another. Freeze one. When you’re busy and can’t think of what to eat you’ll remember you’ve got one in the freezer.