As we come into Autumn, I get a little excited on the inside as I know that I am entering a new season of cooking that is different from the season just gone. We’re moving on from BBQ’s, cold food, picnics and simple salads, to more hearty, richer and comforting food. I think my body likes that better and I always feel my healthiest this time of year.
It is also around this time of year I like to spend more time doing batch cooking. If you haven’t tried batch cooking, I recommend you have a try!
First thing to do, just out of curiosity, is calculate how many hours you would spend in the kitchen over the week. We are a family of 5, so when I add up my hours it can be up to 25 hours a week of time spent in the kitchen. That is factoring 2 hours a night (does include some clean up time), breakfast time and weekend baking.
What is Batch Cooking?
Batch Cooking is when you plan your meals for the week and allocate a block of time (usually around 4 hours) to cook all your meals, then store and freeze or refrigerate to use later. You can pre-prepare dinners, breakfast, sweets or snacks, whatever fits into your lifestyle. As a big family, when I batch cook, I prepare at least 5 dinners, a cake or slice and maybe a snack, like kale chips or bliss balls.
How to do Batch Cooking:
1) Choose your recipes for the week and how many meals you would like to prepare in advance. Try to choose a couple of recipes with similar ingredients, for example a Veggie Curry and Moroccan Chicken will use similar spices, veggies and herbs. Factor in anything you want to make as a double portion, so you have left overs for lunch, or Sunday easy dinner.
2) Write a list of everything you need for the chosen recipes, and do your shopping.
3) Before you begin, make sure your kitchen is clear and clean. Pots and pans ready and aim for uninterrupted time (allow 3 – 4 hours).
4) Begin by preparing and chopping the food. This is the key to making the rest of your time go smoothly. The more prepared you are the better it is. Chop your onions, garlic and portion them out. Chop your veggies, dice up meat (if using), portion out spices. Using a Thermomix or food processor is a great help for preparation.
5) Lay everything out on your bench, for each dish.
6) Put on your apron, music or podcast and away you go!
Other Helpful Tips:
- Investing in good containers is helpful, especially Pyrex which can be transferred from fridge to oven.
- Using appliances such as a slow cooker, pressure cooker or Thermomix while cooking on stove is a great time saver.
- Be clever with your meal ideas so as while some things are simmering on the stove, you can make up pastry for a quiche, or marinated some chicken for a stir-fry and then chopped all the veggies and store in a container.
- When you are done, portion your food in containers and label with some masking tape and Sharpie, the dish and date. Freeze or refrigerate.
- Recruit some helpers to wash the dishes or load the dishwasher.
So, while this seems like an expedition, the time you spend batch cooking can save you so much time in the week. I notice a huge difference and find that I have more time with the kids or I have more time to go to a yoga class, or sit with a tea and book. It is also re-assuring to come home after a busy day knowing that food is prepared and dinner will take minimal time.
I am always up for recipe trading, so if anyone has some delicious Autumn recipes to share with me, please send them through.