Batch cooking 101: a simple way to cut grocery costs

Batch cooking is one of the simplest ways to cut your grocery bills.

Woman frying veggies for batch cooking

One of the simplest ways to cut your grocery bills and, as a bonus, reclaim some time during the week, is to start batch cooking. Or, if you are already batch cooking some of your meals, consider whether you can plan more of your food ahead. Could you perhaps portion out your snacks ahead of time?

Batch cooking involves planning and preparing all of your meals for the week, ahead of time. You pick one day of the week to prepare all of your meals for the next seven days, and do all your meal preparation and as much cooking as possible on that day. Some people just prepare dinners, while others find it helpful to prepare all of their breakfasts, lunches and dinners in this way.

Batch cooking allows you to buy exactly what you need, and no more, at the supermarket. By doing all of your food preparation at once, you can also reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen day-to-day. Most recipes will require access to a freezer, and it’s important to check that the foods you are preparing fare well in this chilly environment (lettuce, for example, gets quite funky in the freezer).

To start, use an online meal planner, or print out a meal planning sheet to write on. The Foodwise website allows you to add whole recipes to your planner with the click of a button, or search for ‘batch cooking recipe ideas’ online to find pre-made weekly plans that incorporate similar ingredients, used in a variety of ways.

Next, use your weekly plan to create a shopping list. Once you have all of your ingredients, undertake all of your food preparation at once. This might mean making a soup and freezing it in muffin tins as individual portions, or cutting up all the vegetables for say a stir fry on Monday, pizza toppings on Tuesday and a roast vegetable salad on Wednesday. Freeze the combinations in an airtight container by meal, rather than by ingredient. Smoothies can be made in a large blender and frozen in mason jars, ready to be moved to the fridge for a refreshing and healthy breakfast the next morning.

Meal planning and batch cooking can be one of the easiest ways to save money at the supermarket, eat more healthily and spend less time in the kitchen on a day-to-day basis. Are you already a batch-cooker? Have you got any helpful tips for those just starting out?

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    COMMENTS

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    24th Jan 2017
    10:44am
    The best way to save money on your shopping is to buy enough items when they are on genuine specials and store them . Unfortunately some people don't have the space but for those who do buy a dozen items at a time this will save you at least 50 percent and save trips to the supermarket ect.I guess you also need to have the money up front.
    jackie
    24th Jan 2017
    12:35pm
    I have always batch cooked. Over the years everything that I have done to cut on back expenses has been destroyed. People used to eat offal, now it's become an expensive delicacy, gone cheap vegetarian/vegan, now it's an expensive healthy lifestyle alternative, cheap flathead fillets have become an expensive ocean barometer, cut back going out so your power bills take away your savings. Our system screws you no matter what you try.
    KSS
    24th Jan 2017
    1:26pm
    There are also those share schemes in many places now where neighbours get together and bulk buy. They get the cheaper prices through buying more at one time and everyone gets their portion of the goods.
    buby
    29th Jan 2017
    2:01pm
    Yes i have been doing this for a while too, its helped a lot. but yeh our systems are screwing us for sure.
    and Just lately i got the news that my gas will be cut for a few days. so how will i be able to shower extra. i already use cold water for most things. and of course the Electric bill will go up as i will want to warm up the water to do the dishes and other things.
    any body got any ideas? i'd be glad to hear of them :(
    musicveg
    29th Jan 2017
    2:06pm
    Try eating more raw food, no need for cooking. Ask your friends or family if you can shower at their house. Fill up a flask with hot water and/or tea for cups of teas, so you don't need to keep boiling over the day.
    go veg!
    24th Jan 2017
    12:00pm
    Even better than buying bulk specials, give up meat (red, white and fish) to save lots of money. It will also save your health and the environment. There are lots of interesting dry and tinned beans as a healthy alternative.
    Janus
    24th Jan 2017
    12:10pm
    I don't think that veg is a such great idea - how much rainforest in Brazil is cut down to grow beans for America - heaps!! I do agree with moderation, a little meat, lots of fresh veg is a good plan.

    Of course, we have far too many people, and any saving, be it buying in bulk or whatever, is great. Somebody suggested to me that a general CULL of useless mouths, such as the elderly, the ill, the poets and the politicians (plus any others that you could list) would go a long way to saving the planet.

    Can't say I agreed fully, but it is food for thought.
    KSS
    24th Jan 2017
    12:33pm
    Actually Janus, we need more land to raise cattle than we do to grow beans that would feed a lot more people. Just saying!
    musicveg
    25th Jan 2017
    1:07pm
    And don't forget the amount of land used to grow feed for the cattle, so that's a double up of land used. Agriculture is on the top of the list for destroying the environment, even above coal mining and use. Check out Veganuary website. Lots of facts and info to eat more plants and how to get your nutrients you need.
    Curious
    24th Jan 2017
    12:09pm
    The article has omitted the saving on electrity, dishwash liquids/dishwasher tablets and naturally water used every time you prepare a meal.
    KSS
    24th Jan 2017
    12:41pm
    Not sure that works out quite right Curious. You can spend 7 hours cooking on one day or one hour on seven days and you will use about the same amount of electricity. So no real saving there. Use of the dish washer and accompanying detergent will not reduce either unless of course you only do washing up once a week on cooking day and don't use any other crockery or utensils in between!
    jackie
    24th Jan 2017
    1:27pm
    Curious...The article hasn't mentioned despite doing this it won't stop everything else from rising.
    Margaret Thompson
    24th Jan 2017
    1:02pm
    I feel fairly confident in suggesting such articles are aimed at people who are not naturally organised and who do not effectively budget. I really think finding fault with everything you can just for the sake of it is a waste everyone's time (both author and reader - I know I'm certainly no better informed for ready many of these comments), and adds nothing to the discussion. Surely it's better to either applaud the author or make more helpful suggestions than prattle on about how this and that isn't going to work or is no better than something else, no? It's little wonder that the older generation (myself squarely included in it) finds itself sidelined by the younger generation of go-getters. Who wants to listen to a bunch of nay-sayers? Give me great ideas and a helping hand any day. Bravo YourLifeChoices - I choose positivity and gratitude.
    iamnotold
    24th Jan 2017
    1:12pm
    Agree!
    Amelia
    25th Jan 2017
    8:23am
    Thanks for reading, Maggie. We appreciate your thoughtful comment, and we are always open to constructive feedback from our readers.
    Rae
    24th Jan 2017
    2:59pm
    Yes batch cooking certainly helps. I also freeze anything I can including bread, cakes, crumpets etc in individual portions to avoid waste.

    All home grown produce is blanched and frozen too. I use ice block containers for strawberries, lemon and lime juice to be used later.

    I also freeze tomato sauce mixes to be easily available for pizza, lasagne, bol etc.

    Buying genuine specials in bulk is a top idea.
    musicveg
    24th Jan 2017
    4:19pm
    You need fresh food everyday to get the right nutrients, so try adding a handful of raw spinach or other greens, even some weeds are edible to these meals that you are going to cook for later use.
    Nan Norma
    24th Jan 2017
    6:58pm
    Finding myself alone for dinner I, for the first time, bought myself a $5 frozen roast lamb dinner. I pricked it with a fork, pooped it in the microwave for 7 minutes. Done. Put the empty plate in the rubbish bin. Now that's the way to go.
    jackie
    25th Jan 2017
    12:35pm
    Ha ha
    musicveg
    25th Jan 2017
    1:09pm
    Poor little lambs and pity about the build up of waste from humans, hope it was a recycle-able container.
    gadsby
    26th Jan 2017
    10:01am
    best way to save on your grocery bill is to pay for the inexpensive items ,and steal the expensive ones,you will be suprised how it stretches the pension.worst case scenario you will be caught sent to jail where you will get 3 meals a day no gas or electric bill ,free wifi,and if your lucky enough to live in Victoria,free pizza if your able to climb on the roof and protest.
    KB
    15th Oct 2017
    2:21pm
    The amount of food you cook is dependent upon whether you are single or have family living at home, Batch cooking is ideal if you are going into hospital and do not have to worry about food shopping single or married. You also need a good size freezer