Batch cooking and why? Hacks to help
So now that we are well & truly stuck into this new year 2017, have broken all our new year’s resolutions, re-set new realistic goals that may actually be achievable, its time to once again have a chat about NUTRITION.
Whatever your goals for your fitness and health may be this year read this blog to find out one simple easy way that will help your journey and save you time and money.
It’s called ‘Batch Cooking’ or if you’re a fitness enthusiast ‘Meal Prep’, when we were kids it was called a Packed Lunch…
Whatever you wish to call it, doing it weekly and making part of your routine will most certainly help you eat better, save money from buying convenience foods every day, and result in spending overall less time in the kitchen.
But why cook huge quantities in the first place you ask?
Well, for one, TIME
If you have a busy lifestyle which includes a job or even two, running a household, kids, and then you throw fitness and dieting into that mix... it doesn’t leave much spare time left in your day.
If you only have 2 hours free leisure time at the end of your day who really wants to be spending that time standing over the hob and chopping onions?
Not me that’s for sure and I can tell you I LOVE being in my kitchen but I certainly don’t relish being there at 10pm on a Tuesday night trying to frantically make some meals for the following day because I refuse to eat a supermarket sandwich.
Second point is MONEY
Food is expensive. Especially when we consider the amount of fresh produce we are trying to consume these days as part of a healthy diet. 5-a-day has now turned into 9/10-a-day.Cuts of meat & fish are money drainers too. Then there’s the ‘health’ foods like coconut oil which can range from anything between £3.50 for an organic tub in Aldi to £10 in Holland & Barrett!
Batch cooking means less waste. Buy the main bulk of your groceries in one hit and buy larger quantities/ bags/ packets which will be easily swallowed up in your tray bakes. Protein sources such as lean meats , fish and eggs last easily in a cold fridge for 4/5 days.
"There’s enough stress in our lives without having to add the stress of eating on top of the pile".
My third point is EASING STRESS
You can go to the fridge every morning before work, take 2x tupperwares out of the fridge and know that you have 2x decent nutritionally balanced and tasty meals to eat throughout the day & won’t have to stress about not being able to find the right kind of food to eat after your workout on your way to a meeting. You simply won’t have to think about what to do about food throughout the day and can concentrate on actual work/ life. Or you won’t have to worry about not having any food in for dinner because you know there are portions of pre-made bolognaise in the freezer that you made on Sunday.
There’s enough stress in our lives without having to add the stress of eating on top of the pile.
So now that I’ve convinced those of you who don’t already benefit from these points I’m going to give you some batch cooking hacks, stuff that will make it easier and more enjoyable because I do realise that this is not everyone’s cup of tea.
- Create a relaxing pleasant environment in your kitchen. I like to put on some disco music to kinda dance around to or (worse I know) musicals to sing badly to. My bloke likes to have a nice glass of red wine while he cooks. When you stop seeing it as a chore and more like something enjoyable and relaxing to do it actually becomes fun!
- Be organised with your foods. Pre-plan. Yes it takes a little time to do this but like anything the more you do it the more efficient you get at it. Just jot down a list of a couple of meals you want to make, add to your weekly shopping list, buy/ order (this is when those £10 off vouchers from Sainsbury online shops come in handy) so then you have everything you need and you don’t end up standing sweating over a saucepan swearing because you forgot to buy the tinned tomatoes!
- Adapt online recipes. You don’t have to be Jamie Oliver. He and plenty of other top notch chefs exist to make our lives easier. Websites such as his and a personal favourite of mine is BBC Good Food. Find a recipe and adapt it to your needs. For instance if it’s a fish recipe but you’re vegetarian, substitute the fish out for tofu or some grains instead or if you don’t like bulgar wheat then use chickpeas, etc.
- Go for recipes that you can make in one pot or a tray. Tray-bakes are popular for this very reason. You can throw pretty much any vegetable in there (starchy one first, then the lighter ones that need less time) then stick your protein source on top for the last 20-30 mins
- Get all your ingredients chopped and prepped before you start the actual cooking process (and don’t forget to turn on the oven if you have to). On cooking programmes you always see them surrounded with plates and bowls of ready chopped vegetables and a row of spices which you probably think is a waste of time and they’re only doing it because they’re on the tele but prepping the ingredients this way then being able to throw them into the pan one by one and stir at the same time really helps. Plus you’re less likely to burn anything…
- Spices, herbs, marinades and seasoning. These are all important in batch cooking and make all the difference to the flavour. Use liberally!
So those are just a few points that will hopefully help. You don’t have to eat the same meal from that batch all week, you can freeze a couple and then in a few weeks you get more variety.
On a side note, if you are one of those who tracks their foods, this makes inputting your meals really easy!
For more ideas follow me on Instagram: @pollycwt