Jordan Douglas, MS, HHC
Building a strong foundation of health through nutrition is intimately tied to the art of cooking. You don’t need to be a master chef or cook everything from scratch, but having a solid handle on the basics and a few go-to recipes makes a world of difference. Time management and a bit of planning are also tremendously helpful skills to learn and incorporate. Enter: meal prepping and batch cooking – two simple practices that can transform your weekly culinary endeavors and ensure nutrient density at every meal.
The general premise of meal prepping and batch cooking is that you are preparing whole meals or components of meals in a given amount of time for easy, convenient assembly in the future. There are many different methods of approach, from weekly to biweekly to daily. No one method is superior to the others – it’s all about finding the flow that works for you.
Here are 5 of my top tips for incorporating meal planning and batch cooking into your kitchen routine:
- The big day. Dedicate one day a week to prepare the bulk of your food for the week ahead. This approach typically requires a 4-6 hour time investment and a good degree of commotion in the kitchen, with the tradeoff being that essentially all meals for the upcoming week are accounted for.
- Cook once, eat twice. Double (or triple) up on whatever you’re cooking to provide leftovers for 3-4 days, depending on what you’re cooking and how many people you’re serving. This method works especially well for staples like grains and beans and for meals such as soups, stews, curries or grain-based dishes.
- Produce prep. Wash your produce when you get home from the store or market. The upfront time investment is about 10 minutes and leaves you with ready-to-roll fruits and veggies for snacking, cooking and meal assembly. You may also choose to prep some of the produce (e.g. chopping carrots, celery, peppers, etc.) for added convenience.
- The cook-and-prep multitask. This method takes advantage of the fact that you’re already in the kitchen cooking to set yourself up for success and ease with future meals. For example, while dinner is cooking, you use that time to prepare a dip, dressing or hummus, to put on a pot of beans or a grain or to roast a tray of veggies. This technique works well for preparing meal and snack components that can be quickly assembled or “finished” in the coming days.
- The right tool for the job. This pearl of wisdom applies to virtually everything in the kitchen (and in life, no?) but can be a lifesaver for meal prepping. Instant pots and slow cookers are great tools that allow you to batch cook with ease, especially if you’re a fan of the set it and forget it approach.
Need a little extra guidance finding your batch cooking flow? Email email@example.com to set up a free 30-minute virtual nutrition counseling session and we can cocreate a plan to set you up for meal prepping success!