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?