So this is for you if you’re a busy mum and sick of thinking about, shopping for, prepping for and cooking dinners 7 nights a week – oh we hear you, sister! We’re sick of it too and that’s why we’re here – to ease your cooking burden!
What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking is cooking up one large meal or meals to stash in the freezer. That large meal can then be divided up into four family size dinners then frozen or refrigerated for nights when you really don’t feel like cooking dinner. Heck, that’s most nights for us!
You might batch cook to give yourself a break later in the week/month or, you may be cooking for your family and a family to whom you’d like to gift a meal.
Our single big batch recipes are usually enough for four families of four.
Ways to batch cook
So there are a few ways of doing this big batch cooking thing to free you up from cooking.
You can either:
- MamaBake! In other words, have a batch cooking party. Get a few friends over (or just the one!), cook a big batch meal each then divide the meals up between you so that you all go home with a variety of home cooked meals for the week ahead. We started out like this and it was amazing – we highly recommend this. Oh, and it also makes you happier. Want to know more? Go here
- Cook up one single big batch recipe. Pick a batch cooking recipe (we have tons here), cook it up then stick in the fridge or freezer until that evening where you’re exhausted and can’t face making dinner one more time. You’ve looked after your future tired you! Simply pull out the meal, reheat and serve. Heaven!
- Cook up one weeks worth of family meals in one hit then you’re TRULY sorted! Yep – cook once, eat all week! Another of our favourite methods. Grab a morning or afternoon when you’ve got some energy and cook up a week’s worth of family dinners in one hit. Stick the meals in the fridge or freezer and you are well and truly covered for the entire week.
- Where to even start? Read on! We’ve got you covered.
The Ultimate Batch Cooking Guide: Let’s get to work…
- Okay one thing with batch cooking is you’re gonna need fridge and freezer space so get in there and have a good rummage through. Defrost and eat anything that needs to be eaten, chuck out anything beyond recognition and cook up anything that you had completely forgotten about and that could be transformed into a tasty dinner as part of your batch cooking efforts (and save you money this week!).
- You’re going to need to store your beautiful meals in freezer/fridge friendly containers. Have food containers or silicone food storage bags ready to go!
- Depending on how long you plan on storing your meals for you may need food labelling. If you’re just cooking meals for the week ahead, you probably won’t need to do this.
Big fat MamaBake food storage tip: store curries, sauces, marinated meat in food bags that can be laid flat in your freezer and save you heaps of space!
- You don’t have to have a mammoth cooking session to get ahead for the week. Slow cookers are awesome and your best mate! You can pop slow cooker meal ingredients into a food storage bag and freeze. When you’re ready for the meal, simply pull out the bag the night before you want it, defrost in fridge overnight then, in the morning, tip ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook according to recipe instructions and away you go! Check out our slow cooker recipes, here.
- You can also marinate meat in food storage bags and freeze for when you’re ready to cook them. Some good ideas here.
- Be sure to know how long different meals and foods can be stored in the fridge or freezer for (here’s our freezer guide here). Most things do just fine in the freezer but we’d steer clear of freezing things like lettuce (find out what other foods don’t freeze well here). If you’re freezing meals in food bags, just make sure you give the bag a good squeeze before you zip it shut to make sure you get as much air out as possible. It sucks to get all those ice crystals on your meal making it watery and yuck. Before you go to reheat and serve, we recommend that you pop the frozen meal in the fridge the night before you plan to eat it so that it has plenty of time (a full day) to defrost slowly and thoroughly. Of course, this depends on what and how big the meal you’re defrosting so use your judgement – just make sure it’s completely defrosted before you cook or bake.
- Got toddlers/babies in the family? Use ice cube trays and muffin trays to portion out their meals. Super easy – simply pop out a portion, defrost, reheat and dinner is served.
- Cook with confidence! Batch cooking can feel a bit overwhelming but we promise it’s truly your bestie who takes care of you when you’re exhaustipated later in the week. If that’s you feeling that overwhelm, simply pick one meal you do feel confident about and start by doubling the quantity of ingredients. It might be a bolognese sauce – perfect (all our sauce recipes are here)! Or, it might be a simple tomato sauce – perfect again! Use it for the base of many a yummy dinner. Whatever it is, simply increase the quantity and stash half of it and reap the rewards of your batch cooking efforts!
- Chop fresh vegetables up and freeze in mixed food bags ready for later in the week – depending on what you have planned: bag up broccoli, carrots, green beans to steam, or red capsicum (pepper), zucchini (courgette), cauliflower, broccoli florets for a stir fry – knock yourself out!
- Save money, time and your health by making up your own dry mixes that can sit perfectly fine in the cupboard AND with the added bonus of you knowing what the ingredients actually are. We’ve mastered a whole heap of dry mix recipes! Go here for all our dry mix recipes
- If you can’t think of a meal to cook, roast up a chicken or 3! This is awesome if chickens are ever on special or reduced. Once roasted, have one for dinner tonight, cool the other two, shred the meat and pop into freezer food storage bags for another meal on another night. Roast chicken recipes and ideas here and here.
- Boil up a dozen eggs. Boiled eggs are awesome for snacks, school lunches and you can smoosh them together for a quick dinner of egg mayonnaise sandwiches or egg salad.
- Cook a batch of rice, quinoa, pasta and have it in the fridge to add to whatever you heat up later in the week.
Why do we LOVE batch cooking?
>>>We love batch cooking because it means we only have to really think about dinners once a week (depending on which method you use).
>>>We love batch cooking because it means we only really do the cooking once a week – love that bit!
>>>We love batch cooking because sometimes it can save us money
>>>We love batch cooking because it gives us time during the week to do other stuff we would rather be doing other than prepping and cooking dinners!
Prepare to Batch Cook!
So decide which kind of batch cooking you’re gonna do:
- If you’re gonna have a MamaBake (read: batch cooking party!), then go here to find out how and all the ins-and-outs of how it works.
- If you’re gonna batch cook a single big batch recipe, pick a recipe, make your shopping list, pop some time to one side and away you go
- If you would like to get a bit organised without a huge cooking session, just get ahead for the week by knowing what you’re going to cook on which night, click here for a basic meal planning guide
- If you want to cook a week’s worth of meals for the week ahead, we have heaps of Once-A-Week Cooking plans.