Since starting my new job and transitioning into working at an office, for the first time in five years, there are definitely some efficiency issues. When I was working from home I could get groceries when I had downtime or start dinner prep before the end of the work day. Now when I get home, there are groceries to get, dinner to cook and then all the clean up, eating healthy is practically a part time job. Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how we can save time during the week so we more freedom at night to focus on other things. Then the idea of batch cooking came up. I read a few articles online to get a good idea of what this whole Batch cooking was all about. Most of the recipes or meal plans I found were not healthy or came out of a can. That was not the direction I wanted to go. I still wanted healthy food but to spend less time prepping and cooking each night.
So where to start? I used my meal planner to figure out the week in advance. I looked up recipes and tried to fine ones that were healthy but easy to reheat. Once I had my recipes I broke it down by day and started on my grocery list.
FRUGAL LIVING MEAL PLANNER (if you don’t already have it!)
In Part 1 of Batch Cooking I wanted to discuss the time investment. As this is my first time trying this I don’t really have experience on how well it will all go! So far so good though.
Meal Planning and Grocery List – 30 minutes
*To make this part simple, sit down and do it all at once. I had my phone and laptop out, along with the meal planner. I emailed myself the recipes after I had written down the items I needed to purchase for the week. As you choose the recipes, pick the best day to have that item. For example I made Bean Burritos and thought it would be best to eat those first so they didn’t get soggy. In 4 easy steps you have a plan for the week, 1. Recipe 2. Grocery Items 3. Email It 4. Meal Planner
Grocery Shopping – 45 minutes
*I don’t think I could cut this down anymore if you think of driving there, shopping and getting back home. Go in with a plan! I write everything down in order I like to go through the grocery store. If not I find I can run all over the place and my grocery shopping time is doubled. For example, I write fruits and vegetable first, then canned goods, organics and dairy last.
Prep and Cooking – 2.5 hours
*I couldn’t believe I prepped and cooked everything for the week in 2.5 hours! It was crazy. I tried to clean as I went and used the same prep bowls over and over. There was a big clean up at the end, but it would be comparable to a regular dinner and you only have to do it once! I didn’t really have a plan in terms of cooking, but after reviewing my recipes I could see the best order and I think making a plan before you start will make the process easier.
1) I started with the crock pot. This meant the crock pot meal would be almost ready when I was finished with the batch cooking.
2) Look at the items you are cooking, are there recipes that use a similar oven temperature or perhaps one that is hotter? Cook the regular one first and then bump up the temperature for the next recipe.
3) How can you best use your time? I started with the crock pot meal, then had one in the oven as I was cooking on the stove top. By looking at the cooking flow and having a couple items cooking at once it cut down on the overall time.
Clean Up – 20 minutes
A couple pots, cutting boards and knives. Minimal clean up. During the week most items will be able to go in the dishwasher, a simple rinse and 5 minutes later I am out of the kitchen.
I am sure I will have more thoughts on this after the first week, and in Part 2 I will focus on the Meal Planning and recipes I used, letting you know what worked well and what didn’t.
TOTAL TIME: 4 hours
My goal is to cut down on the cooking/prep time and next week my sous chef will hopefully have less to drink and be in better prep shape! Lol.
I have been thinking of time as money. It is so valuable. For ourselves, our lives, our relationships and our balance. Small changes like batch cooking can really help to create space during the week to focus on things you are passionate about whether it’s DIY’s, painting, dancing, hiking, yoga, anything!