Batch Cooking Shortcuts That’ll Save You a Ton of Time in the Kitchen + Super Simple Tabouli
By Molly Patrick
Mar 14, 2017,
So here’s the thing butter bean.
The foods that heal and protect your delicious body are not convenience foods that you can throw in the microwave, order from a restaurant or heat up from a box. The foods that heal and protect your life vessel require time to prepare, simply because these are the foods that don’t come pre-made. You have to go to the store, buy the raw materials and start building (or batching as it were).
The key to eating a kick ass healthy diet on a consistent basis is making sure you always have homemade food in your fridge, ready to throw together in a moment’s notice. If you open your fridge and it gives you snow blindness, you will pick up takeout, order pizza, throw a frozen meal in the microwave or pour yourself a bowl of cereal and call it dinner.
This isn’t me being pessimistic. This is a truth based on the hierarchy of needs – the only thing I remember from my psych class in college. That and my teacher was super cute. Which is why it was one of the only classes that I went to on a regular basis my first semester of college – hungover or not.
So an empty fridge leads to eating crap. It’s that predictable. And the best way to combat fridge snow blindness and have yummy, nutrient dense food in your fridge on the daily is to batch cook. Batch cooking (or “batching”) is when you set aside a few hours each week and do the majority of your cooking for the week all in one go so you have a ton of food ready to go for the entire week ahead.
No snow blindness. No picking up take out. No scrambling to figure out dinner. Just delicious, healthy food in your fridge, ready to nourish you at any given moment.
Batch cooking is one of the pillars of my weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans.
If you get my meal plans, you know the drill. You print out your new meal plan every Friday, you bring the grocery list that I make for you to the store and you do your shopping. Next, you spend a few hours in your kitchen, following my batching recipes. Then during the week, you follow my nightly meal instructions and you whip together meals from the items you batched earlier in the week. Easy as that.
If you want to eat for your health and feel and look radiant from the inside out (which, let’s not shit ourselves, who doesn’t want that), then spending time in your kitchen is non-negotiable. That said, spending ALL DAY in your kitchen isn’t only annoying, it’s plum unnecessary (did I just say plum unnecessary?).
If you’re new to this, your first few batching sessions will feel daunting. Just know that it’s 100% worth it, and it does get easier, and you will get faster the more you do it.
To help with that, I’m sharing all of my batching time savers and shortcuts with you. I have quite a few so this is a two parter. I’ll share my first seven this week and my next eight next week. Deal? Okay. Onward through the batch Fuckery (batchery?).
Regardless of how long you’ve been cooking or batching, follow these tips and you’ll be in and out of the kitchen lickety split, each and every week.
1: Do your grocery shopping one day and your batch cooking the next day
By the time you go to the grocery store, get home, put everything away and feed yourself and your family, you’re going to be spent. Tack three hours of batching onto that and it’s recipe for melt down, frustration and HATING the entire process. And when you’re frustrated and in a mood, mistakes are guaranteed. And mistakes add time to anything, including your batch.
So by splitting up your shopping and your batching into two separate days, you’ll enter your kitchen refreshed and ready to do some awesome damage.
2: As soon as you get home from the grocery store, wash, dry and store your greens
Washing and drying all of your greens in one go is a crucial step in making sure you actually eat your greens throughout the week. This is because properly prepping your greens not only makes them last longer, but it also saves you the hassle of washing them each time you want to eat them or add them to your smoothies. When you have your greens washed, dried and ready to go, it’s more realistic that you’ll actually consume those nutrient-packed power houses, instead of tossing them out at the end of the week when they’re slimy and sad (slimy and sad sucks in any context).
I’ll be doing a future Fuckery on how to best wash and dry your greens, but in the meantime, using a big bowl and a salad spinner is key. If you don’t have a salad spinner, I 100% recommend getting one, just for the purpose of this task.
Washing and drying your greens right after you get home from the grocery store makes for one less thing to do on your batching day.
3: Do your batching in the morning
By doing your batching first thing in the morning, you get it done when you’re at your most alert and refreshed. And when you’re alert and refreshed, less mistakes will be made and you will move faster. Besides that, if you keep putting your batching off throughout the day, it might never happen. Better to get it out of the way early so you can move on with your day.
4: Follow the batching order that I give you in the meal plans
We always list the batching recipes strategically, so if you get our meal plans, follow the recipes in the order they are given – we design the plans with your time and ease in mind each week.
If you don’t get our meal plans and you’re using your own plan, start with the items that are easiest to throw together and take the longest to cook, like beans. Then make the items that take the most time to prep, like soups and casseroles. And then finish with the items that are the easiest and fastest to throw together, like dressings.
My rule of thumb is to always have something on the stove, in the oven or in the Instant Pot, nicely cooking away, while you carry on with your next recipe. This is all about utilizing your batching time in the most efficient way possible.
5: Read your recipe all the way through and prep all of your ingredients before you start
Reading your recipe all the way through prepares you for what’s to come. Prepping and measuring out all of the ingredients in the recipe and neatly setting them aside allows you to easily and swiftly flow through each recipe.
Trying to prep and measure out all of the ingredients as you’re making a recipe will take you WAY longer to reach the batching finish line, plus it adds chaos and stress in the kitchen. Avoid all that by prepping and measuring first, and then putting your recipe together. It’s a small tweak that makes a huge difference.
6: Use your food processor to chop, slice, dice and shred your veggies
Chopping, slicing, dicing and shredding veggies takes up about 85% of your time in the kitchen. Using a food processor is the fastest way to cut your veggie prep time in half.
Almost all food processors come with a round disc that has a blade for shredding on one side and a blade for slicing on the other side. You can also use the regular S shaped blade to chop and dice veggies, like onions, carrots and any other veggies that need to be coarsely chopped.
Each food processor is a little different, but most food processors have this option, so put it to use and it will save you a ton of time. The time that it takes you to clean the food processor afterwards will be minuscule compared to the time that it saves you.
7: Keep a clean work space
Keeping a clean work space is a huge time-saver and the number one way to avoid kitchen overwhelm. After you’re done prepping and measuring out each ingredient, wash all the kitchen items that you used and wipe down your counter space.
Then proceed with your recipe.
Then after you’re done with your recipe, do the same thing; wash any kitchen items that you used, and wipe down your counter space.
The cleaner your work space throughout your batching, the easier and faster your batching will be. So clean as you go and sail through your recipes.
AND… that’s a wrap for my first batch of shortcuts (did you see what I did there?). I’ll cover the next batch next week (had to). In the meantime, put these first seven into action and watch your batching time decrease.
Do you have any batching tips in the kitchen? Hit me up in the comments below.
And if you haven’t signed up for my weekly meal plans yet, they really are a game changer especially since you can cancel anytime. Check out all the details here.
Today’s recipe is ridiculously easy and it’s perfect to have in your fridge to nom on throughout the week.
- 1 cup bulgur 175g
- 1 cup water 235ml
- 2 tomatoes about 1 1/4 cups / 235g, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion 30g, finely diced
- 1/2 cup parsley 10g, chopped
- 1/4 cup mint 3g, chopped
- 1 green onion discard the root end and use the whole thing - green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 or 6 turns cracked black pepper
- Place the bulgur into a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside. Measure out 1 cup of water (235ml) and bring it to a boil.
- Pour the water over the bulgur and stir.
- Place a cover over the bowl and leave it be for one hour (I use a plate to cover the bowl).
- After an hour, place the bulgur into a large mixing bowl and add the tomatoes, red onion, parsley, mint, green onion, lemon juice, cumin powder, salt, and pepper.
- Gently mix with a wooden spoon so all of the ingredients get incorporated.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with investing some time so that your gorgeous body can shine.
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I never thought about the batch cooking process that way. Totally helpful!
This week I made your veggie bean soup for my lunches. I go to school, so I usually don’t like carrying around too much food in my bag. Luckily, two cups of that soup is enough to keep me going until I get home. It’s delicious, too.
Thanks for sharing, Molly! I’ve figured out a few of these in my 6 weeks on the meal plan, but definitely have missed some: and clearly, I need to get my food processor out. When I can’t get out to the store Saturday (which has happened more than once), I batch from whatever I happen to have in my pantry. Between having a stocked kitchen and whatever veg is left from the prior week, I’ve been able to do 2-3 recipes before I head to the store. Then I’m also more confident that I’ve got the shopping list right.
Also, G-F tabouli is a cinch with quinoa!