Save Time and Eat Well with Batch Cooking

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Batch cooking can save you time in the kitchen and help you eat more homemade meals all week. As a mom, frequent traveler, and full-time employee with a food blog on the side I needed to find a way to feed my family well while not spending hours in the kitchen or going out to eat for every meal. Batch cooking has made it possible for me and my family to eat well and stay flexible with our meals while only spending a small amount of time in the kitchen.

How is Batch Cooking Different Than Meal Prep?

I like to think batch cooking is the flexible cousin to meal prep. Rather than prepping a specific amount of food and planning each individual meal, batch cooking involves cooking 3-4 recipes that can be mixed and matched to create unique meals for every day. While meal prep can feel restrictive, batch cooking allows me to eat whatever I feel like in the moment and as much or as little as I feel.

To get the most variety, I cook 1-2 vegetables, a starch, some type of protein, and a baked good of some kind. For example, one week I might;

  • boil a pound of green beans
  • roast some cubed potatoes
  • cook a whole chicken
  • and make a batch of oatmeal muffins.

That’s it. That’s the bulk of the cooking I do for the week.

Then I leverage things in my pantry and refrigerator to create complete meals throughout the week, which may look like the following:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Breakfast: Oatmeal muffin, yogurt, fruit Breakfast: Oatmeal muffin, frozen sausage, fruit Breakfast: Yogurt topped with cereal, fruit Breakfast: Avocado toast, cheese, fruit Breakfast: Leftover pizza, green beans Breakfast: Spinach, egg, avocado breakfast sandwich on an english muffin Breakfast: Out at our favorite restaurant
Lunch: Sliced chicken breast sandwich with hummus and spinach, green beans Lunch: Oatmeal muffin, eggs, cheese, fruit Lunch: Panera while running errands


Lunch: Chicken hummus tortilla, green beans, cheese Lunch: Green beans, crackers, cheese, olives, pickles Lunch: Out with a friend Lunch: Leftover pasta bake
Dinner: Scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, roasted potatoes, Dinner: Shredded chicken, cheese, green beans, olives, crackers Dinner: Chicken salad sandwich, chips Dinner: Pizza Dinner: Frozen spanakopita appetizer, olives, cheese, hummus, crackers Dinner: Pasta bake with sauce and cheese, spinach salad Dinner: Fast food while running errands

Each meal I’m getting the protein, carbs and fat I need while allowing space to eating out or enjoy some frozen appetizers (a personal favorite of mine). I’m also doing minimal cooking throughout the week. Just cooking eggs in a pan, boiling some noodles, or sautéing some of my already prepped ingredients to warm them up.

Pantry and fridge staples

These are the pantry and fridge staples that can almost always be found in my kitchen.

Pantry Fridge Freezer
  • Tuna
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Cereal
  • Sprouted bread
  • English muffin
  • Tortilla shells
  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Canned beans
  • Eggs
  • Fresh fruits
  • Avocados
  • Cheeses of all varieties
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hummus
  • Salsa
  • Salad dressing
  • Mayonaise
  • Mustard
  • Spinach
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Frozen chicken sausage
  • Frozen meatballs
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen appetizers
  • Frozen waffles
  • Frozen baguettes
  • Frozen croissants

Batch Prep Examples

Pick one or two from each category to prep then mix and match with pantry and fridge staples.

Vegetables Starch Protein Baked Goods
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole chicken, chicken breast, or thighs
  • Boiled eggs
  • Frittata
  • Lentils
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Ground beef
  • Ground turkey
  • Meatballs
  • Muffins
  • Bread
  • Baked oatmeal

Why This Works for Me

I enjoy cooking and eating well, I just don’t always have the time. With batch cooking, I can still eat a bulk of my meals at home but still have the flexibility needed for every day life. Maybe I have to run an unexpected errand and need to grab some fast food. Or maybe we just need a pizza for dinner. Batch cooking allows me the option to have food in my kitchen without stressing about each individual meal. I can also eat as much or as little as I feel, where prepping each individual meal feels restrictive.

How to Make Batch Cooking Work for You

Find an hour or two in your week to set aside to do some prep cooking. I find it extremely helpful to break up my shopping and prepping into two days. I may go shopping one or two days in advance before getting in the kitchen and cooking. Grab the cookware you need and set it on your counters. Start with the item that will take the most time. This is usually either the baked good or protein. Also use this time to chop fresh vegetables and other produce you want to have on hand for the week.

Use recipes that you know you’ll love on repeat or that can be versatile enough to transform into other dishes. I love having a pound of steamed green beans in the fridge all week. I can eat these as-is with a little salt, toss them with some olive oil and vinegar, parmesan cheese, and olives for a salad, or stuffed in a sandwich with tuna, tomato, and avocado (don’t knock it ’til you try it).

Have produce at the ready that doesn’t require cooking. I try to keep all kinds of fruit on hand as well as avocados, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. This helps create variety in my meals with very little cooking required.

Other time saving tips

  • Purchase pre-cut vegetables
  • Leverage grocery pick up/delivery services
  • Use frozen appetizers for a sidekick to meals
  • Order a pizza and call that a starch. Enjoy a slice or two with some of your prepped veggies or a salad for a few meals
  • Always have canned or frozen vegetables, starches, protein and carbs on hand to create complete meals

My Favorite Batch Cooking Recipes

Vegetables Starch Protein Baked Goods