How to batch cook
As we move into the cooler months it’s time to make the freezer your best friend. Batch cooking is when you prepare meals ahead of time, and store them either in the fridge or freezer. This means you don't have to cook every day, you can just reheat and eat! It's like a gift to yourself. A ready-made meal can also be a thoughtful gift to someone in need. It can also be a big help if you have guests, so you don't have to as much work on the day you have your visitors.
If you can find a couple hours to devote to big-batch cooking, jump on it because it will save you plenty of time later. Here are some handy tips for batch cooking, as well as freezer-friendly recipes that are great for batch cooking.
8 big-batch cooking tips for beginners
Make a plan
Decide which recipes you're going to cook and how much you want to make. Prepare meals that you know you and your family love, so you don't end up with lots of food you don't enjoy. Make sure you have enough space in your fridge or freezer. Stews, soups and pasta bakes are classic freezable dishes. You can also freeze part of a meal, such as meatballs to eat with fresh pasta. See below for a range of great freezer-friendly recipes.
It's not much fun doing a big cook up to find there aren’t enough containers. Prepare enough freezer-safe containers or bags in the right sizes before getting started.
Under-cook some ingredients
Your meals will get a second round of cooking when they're reheated, so slightly under-cook your veg to prevent them from going mushy. The same goes for rice and pasta.
Let your dishes cool to room temperature before freezing. This avoids heating up other foods in your freezer. Once your food is at room temperature, or it's been cooling on the counter for two hours, freeze immediately to prevent growth of bacteria.
Label your meals with the name and date. Frozen food is hard to identify. Most foods keep well for about three months, so add the date too so you know when it needs to be eaten.
Freeze in usable portions
Unless you plan on eating the same stew six meals in a row (no judgement here!), consider the portion size you will need for a meal and freeze it in appropriate containers.
Defrost in the fridge overnight
Defrost your food in the fridge overnight, then pop it in the oven or reheat on the stove to warm it fully.
8. Gift to someone in need
A pre-made meal can make a big difference, whether you're gifting it to some who is time-poor, in a tough spot or you just want to spread the love of home-cooking! If you're in a position where you can, why not consider batch cooking a regular meal so you have extra food ready to gift, or cook something especially for a person in need that they can easily freeze.
Now you're ready to get started! You'll be a batch cooking pro in no time at all. Try out some great batch cooking recipes below, and get ready to enjoy and share convenient and tasty meals, plus all the extra time on your hands!