By Molly Patrick
Aug 21, 2021,
I talk about batch cooking a lot because it’s such a game-changer, especially when eating a whole food plant based diet and following our Plant Fueled Meal Plans. I wanted to share some tips on meal prep to make batching easier on your body.
Spending a few hours in your kitchen one day a week to meal prep saves both time and money. You buy all of your groceries on your big grocery shopping day using a handy grocery list and then prepare most of your food in advance.
However, if you aren’t used to spending a few hours on your feet cooking, your body might get tired or sore the first few times you batch. This is not a reason to give up! Think of it like working out: you slowly build muscle and stamina the more you do it.
Here are some tips on meal prep to help with fatigue:
Meal prep tip #1: take stretch breaks often
Taking a quick stretch break every 20 minutes or so makes a huge difference in how your body feels during and after your batch cooking session. Set the timer on your phone and when the timer goes off, step away from whatever you’re doing and do just a couple minutes of stretching. Choose whatever stretches you like best, or look on YouTube before you start batching to get inspired and choose your moves. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, basic stretches go a long way.
Meal prep tip #2: keep a golf ball in your kitchen and use it often
Rolling a golf ball under your feet is totally rejuvenating. Take off your socks and shoes and set the ball on the floor. Place one foot on top of the golf ball and press down with your foot. Then roll the ball all around the bottom of your foot as you apply as much pressure as feels good. Hold on to a counter or wall as you do this to stay balanced, or sit down if that’s easier. Switch feet when you’re ready and feel your feet come back to life!
Meal prep tip #3: wear comfortable shoes
I don’t wear shoes inside my house, but you better believe I have a super comfortable pair of Oofos sandals that I wear while batching. Some people wear running or orthopedic shoes. Wearing comfortable shoes while batching makes a big difference in your overall comfort. It’s also a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet when working with sharp utensils and hot foods.
Meal prep tip #4: anti-fatigue mats for the win
These are heaven! I have three anti-fatigue mats in my kitchen, and I cannot imagine going without them. I like the brand Kangaroo, but there are many brands to choose from. Once you batch on mats there is no going back. Your body will thank you!
Meal prep tip #5: Stretch and Strengthen
I used to suffer from lower back pain. I also used to sway my back and round my shoulders. I was stiff as a board and had very little core strength. When I started strengthening and stretching my body regularly, my back pain went away.
Meal prep tip #6: move your body throughout the week
The more you move your body throughout the week, the more stamina you will have on batching day. Start with a 20-minute walk after dinner each night, or 20 minutes of yoga / stretching in the morning. There’s no need to join a gym or get crazy with your workouts. Simply moving your body more in whatever way feels best is a great place to start. This will benefit your everyday life and make meal prep/batching easier.
Meal prep tip #7: stay well hydrated
Between using the stove and moving around, you might work up a sweat, and it’s easy to be so focused on the batch that you lose sight of staying hydrated. Make sure to keep a water bottle by your batching workstation so you remember to hydrate often. I use a Yeti bottle because it keeps my water nice and cold. I bring my Yeti everywhere I go, especially to my kitchen on batching day.
Meal prep tip #8: when you’re done batching, put up your feet and rest
Resting afterward is one the best parts of batching. I call it the after-batch-chillax.
I make my last recipe, throw together a smoothie, take a shower, and proceed to the couch where I read, take a nap, or watch Netflix. It feels so good to put my feet up after a few hours of meal prep, knowing I have a fridge full of delicious plant based food, and knowing that I made that shit happen!
Meal prep tip #9: let it hurt—it will get better
Yes, you might be sore from batching the first few times, but it’s not a reason to not do it. It’s part of the process, especially if you aren’t used to standing on your feet for a few hours at a time. You can handle some soreness, you’ve done harder things. The question is, what are you making your sore body mean? Are you making it mean there’s something wrong with you and you can’t do this? That you’re a terrible person? That you have to get into shape before you start batch cooking for yourself?
Or, do you make it mean this is how your human body feels after you batch and it will probably feel better with time and practice?
All are optional thoughts, only the last one is true. It’s also the one that will get you through your next batch.
If standing for a period of time is not accessible to you, consider modifications, like prepping your spices and chopping veggies from a seated position, to make batching work with your needs. Our Simple Meal Plans are designed to reduce kitchen time. We recommend them for newbies as well as for seasoned batchers who want to spend less time cooking.
For tips on nurturing your body on and after your batch day, check out my Batching & Balls session over here.
Did your body get sore the first few times you batched, or have you been putting off weekly meal prep because you’re afraid of the fatigue? Or are you an expert and have your own tips on meal prep you’d like to share? Talk to me in the comments below!
- ⅔ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 10 minutes (95 g)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (about 10 turns)
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (use less if you don't like spicy)
- ⅔ cup water (160 ml)
- 6 ounces whole grain spiral, elbow, or penne pasta (170 g)
- 2 cups peaches, diced (can sub thawed frozen peaches) (about 4 medium-sized peaches / 340 g)
- 1 cup red bell pepper, diced (about 1 pepper / 150 g)
- 1 cup seedless or English cucumber, diced (140 g)
- ¼ cup green onion, sliced (use green and white parts, discard root end) (about 4 green onions / 25 g)
- 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed (130 g)
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted (see Note) (55 g)
- Drain the cashews and discard the soaking water. Place the cashews in your blender, along with the remaining dressing ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Pop the dressing in the fridge to chill while you make the rest of the pasta salad.
- Cook the pasta to package directions then drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside for now.
- While your pasta is cooking, chop your peaches, bell pepper, cucumber, and green onions and place them into a large mixing bowl. Add the pasta, edamame, and toasted walnuts and stir. Finally, add the dressing and stir well to combine.
- Serve this bountiful beauty to your friends and family and soak up the compliments!
Heat a skillet over low heat for 2 minutes (cast iron is our choice).
Add the walnuts in a single layer and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently so they toast evenly and don’t get too brown. The nuts should get a little dark but not super brown.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with taking care of that beautiful body of yours.