Sunday, November 15, 2015

Batch Cooking with the Happy Herbivore

Erin asked me to talk about batch cooking and how I go about it.

The meal plan actually makes it pretty easy. If you go to THE WEBSITE you can get a free sample meal plan and see what I'm talking about. When you subscribe to the meal plan you also have access to a video showing Lindsey batch cooking.  The first time I batch cooked it took me forever but with each subsequent week I get better and better at it. I also keep streamlining my kitchen setup. Here's my current routine.

On Wednesdays I download and print the meal plan for the following week. I'm a geek and will admit I can't wait to see what I'll be making and we'll be eating so I can't wait for Wednesday to dawn.

I print a separate copy of the grocery list, the ingredient batch cooking list, the ingredient prep list, and the once a week cooking order.

On Thursdays I tidy my fridges - I have two - one counter depth and medium sized and a dorm sized as well. Then I go through the printed grocery list and cross off anything I already have in my fridge, freezer, or pantry. As I follow the meal plan longer and longer I'm finding that I'm better prepared and cross off more and more. I add any extra produce and household stuff to the list. I also read through the recipes to see if there are changes I need to make to pull the recipes into Eat To Live compliance. This all sounds like it would take forever but it's actually pretty quick and easy.  As for changes, an example would be that when a recipe calls for ketchup I use tomato paste instead to avoid extra sugar. I can get Ketchup with no added sugar but tomato paste is cheaper and the end result is just as good.

On Fridays I do my grocery shopping and batch cook things like beans and whole grains. If I'm going to need a cup and a half of black beans I'll cook a pound and freeze the extras in one cup portions. That way the next time I need black beans I'll just pull them out of the freezer. My Instant Pot makes this process simple because I don't need to soak the beans before cooking. I just put them in the IP, cover them with water, set the IP and walk away. In about an hour I have perfect beans. Brown rice is even faster!

Saturdays I do my cooking marathon usually while doing laundry at the same time. Doesn't sound exciting? It isn't but the excitement comes each night at dinner time when I don't have to cook.

Before I start cooking I set up my kitchen. I have a cutting board next to the sink. I fill a dish pan with warm soapy water so I can wash up as I go. If I'll need the food processor I set it up now. I also set up my 360 Cutter. I got mine for much less as part of a now discontinued bundle but this thing is worth every penny! I found THIS KNOCKOFF but I'm not sure how long it would last. I really don't need to use the Ingredient prep list because I can dice an onion or squash or slice vegetables in no time. I just set it up and put a big stainless steel bowl under it and consider it my chopping station.

Once the kitchen is set up I begin cooking. I use the "Once a week cooking order" sheet that comes with the meal plan on Wednesdays. I pretty much follow it as written though yesterday I threw together the last recipe as the next to last recipe was simmering.

When you first start doing this your inclination is to do only one recipe at a time but eventually you find yourself simultaneously making 4 or even 5 recipes at the same time and that saves time.

I also recommend doing clean up as you go. That way you end up with a full fridge and a clean kitchen when you are done.

Basically, that's it! I hope it makes sense. If you have questions please feel free to ask them. I don't consider myself an expert yet but I'll try to answer them.

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