A Beginner’s Guide to Batch Cooking
If you don’t have time to cook every day, then batch cooking might be the perfect solution for you. Batch cooking is when you cook two or more different meals in large quantities, so you have enough food to cover you for the week. Usually, these meals are easy to keep in the fridge and reheat in the microwave, so you can quickly grab your food and warm it up.
By dedicating one day to cooking in bulk, you’ll be able to eat delicious, healthy meals even when you’re busy. Batch cooking, however, can be challenging to master when you’re only used to cooking à la minute. If you’re cooking in bulk for the first time, here are a few tips to make your experience less daunting:
Organize Your Refrigerator or Freezer
Whether you have a standard refrigerator or an upright freezer, it’s always a good idea to organize this kitchen appliance first. This way, you can get a good idea of how much space your fridge or freezer has and determine how much food you can fit in it. This also gives you a chance to clean the inside of the appliance as well as throw out any spoiled food or leftovers you don’t plan to eat. This way, you can fully maximize the space in your refrigerator or freezer.
Plan Your Meals Ahead
It helps to already know the bulk dishes you want to prepare. When you plan your meals a week or a few days beforehand, you’re giving yourself enough time to research the ingredients you need and the recipes you plan to follow. It will also allow you to create a shopping list that fits your budget. This way, you’ll be 100% prepared on the day of your batch cooking.
Make Easy-to-Cook Meals That Store and Freeze Well
Since you’re bulk cooking for the first time, it’s in your best interest to start with easy-to-cook meals that freeze and store well. Choose recipes with simple techniques and ingredients that suit your kitchen skills. As you grow more confident in your cooking abilities, you can tweak these recipes to better suit your preferences.
The dishes that are easiest to cook in bulk are typically the ones that share the same base. This way, you can make a big batch of the base and use it in several recipes. For example, if you make a tomato base, you can use it for cooking pork menudo, beef stew, and pasta sauce. If you’re making a large batch of chicken stock, on the other hand, you can make tinola, chicken noodle soup, and chicken arroz caldo.
Stews and soups are also examples of foods that are easy to cook in batches. Most of these dishes are simply made from ingredients that are placed in a pot and allowed to boil for a few hours, so you don’t actually have to spend a lot of active time cooking. Some popular Filipino one-pot dishes that you can make include sinigang, adobo, and pares.
Cook with the Right Equipment
Cooking in batches can be challenging if you’re not using the right kitchen equipment. You need to have the correct cookware and appliances to make it easier to prepare your ingredients and cook large quantities of food. Aside from your stove or cooking range, you also need to have a few big pots and pans. This way, you can cook multiple large batches of dishes simultaneously.
It’s also a good idea to invest in high-quality small kitchen appliances to make food preparation easy and efficient. For example, if you need to make hollandaise sauce, you can use a blender to emulsify the ingredients together instead of manually mixing them with a whisk. If your dishes require a lot of minced garlic, you can use a food processor to process it in seconds instead of doing the knife work yourself.
Use the Right Sized Containers and Label Them
An important part of batch cooking is using the right containers for your meals. When you have containers that are airtight and come in the correct sizes, you can easily fit your food in the fridge or freezer and ensure that it’ll last.
When choosing food storage containers, it’s recommended to use glass containers over plastic. Unlike plastic, glass containers have non-porous surfaces, so they won’t absorb oil and odors. This keeps them free of food residue from their previous contents, so you don’t have to worry about contamination. Containers made of glass are also safer to use in the microwave and easier to clean. As a result, you won’t have any trouble heating your food, and cleanup will be a breeze.
If your fridge or freezer doesn’t have enough space for bulky food storage containers, you can use resealable freezer bags instead. These bags provide you with the same airtight protection many food containers have but will occupy less space. Allow food to completely cool before packing it in a freezer bag to avoid damaging the bag.
Finally, it’s a good idea to label your food storage containers and freezer bags accordingly. Include the name of the dish and the date when it was prepared. This way, you won’t have to rummage through your fridge or freezer to look for the meal you want to eat.
Batch cooking is an excellent way to make sure that you’re eating properly even when you don’t have time to prepare a home-cooked meal. It can be intimidating to cook so much food all at once when you’re a first-timer, but with the help of these tips, cooking in bulk can be a fun and hassle-free experience.
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