Batch cooking is your secret weapon

With COVID-19 almost being the only thing you see and hear about on the news at the moment, it’s not surprising people started panic buying.

Even with the prime minister urging people to stop stockpiling, as there is plenty of food to go around, it can be tempting to make those ‘just-in-case’ purchases.

Your thoughts might turn to buying frozen food, ready meals (which can be expensive) and dry goods, such as rice and pasta. But there’s something else you should consider – batch cooking. Here’s why…

It’s cheaper
A microwave friendly lasagne will set you back around $6.50 for two servings. Making your own and portioning it up is a lot cheaper. Having a freezer full of batch-cooked food also means you won’t be tempted to call for a takeaway (well, maybe one) during your time at home, which saves vital cash as well.

Think about your favourite midweek meals while doing your next grocery shop. Buying ingredients for multiple meals at the same time will show you what you’ll have left over so you can decide how to incorporate those items into an extra meal. For example, leftover mince from spaghetti bolognaise can be turned into a chilli con carne with the addition of some spices and kidney beans.

It’s healthier
Stress, worry and social distancing can all take their toll on the immune system and it can be easy to turn to comforting food in these times. Focus on nourishing your body with healthy vegetables and leafy greens, with some treats in there too, of course.

Batch-cooked homemade soup is the perfect way to fill up on seasonal root vegetables, adding ingredients such as immuno-friendly ginger and garlic.

Prepare a batch of instant flavour and immune boosters by grating garlic and ginger into ice cube trays and freezing them. Then they’re ready to throw into meals as you cook with minimal prep.

If you’re making some sauces (a pasta sauce can be whipped up and frozen easily), then put them in freezer bags, seal and lie flat in the freezer, so you can fit more into the space.

Tomatoes, peppers, onions and zucchinis make a great and healthy pasta sauce – add some chilli if you like a kick.

It’s fun and gives a sense of achievement
With all this extra time on our hands, we’re all looking for more activities. The house can only be cleaned so many times! Batch cooking is a great time to research and try some new recipes; hopefully you’ll be rewarded with a tasty meal you can add to your recipe index.

It might also be that perfect excuse to sort through the kitchen cupboards to look for ingredients you can use.

Batch cooking is good for the environment
Even though pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen across continents as countries fight to contain the spread, the impact of coronavirus on the environment remains to be seen. The number of disposable wipes and bottles of hand sanitiser are yet to be counted. Add to that the number of latex gloves the general population are cycling through, and the increase to landfill could be quite sizeable.

Every time you avoid a ready meal in non-recyclable packaging or wrapped in plastic is a win. You may already have the right sized containers from previous food deliveries, if not, invest in a couple of transparent glass containers and jars. They will give you a good visual overlook of what you have in the fridge while also storing the food in the freshest possible way.

By choosing recipes that use fresh fruit and veg from the greengrocer saves that extra bit of plastic at the supermarket too!

Cooking means you’re in control
Staying at home for two weeks with little to no exercise and fresh air can make you feel confined and helpless. Relying on meals that you can find at the supermarket could add to that, while batch cooking means you’re in control of what you eat. And if you do fall ill, cooking might be the last thing on your mind.

You can make things as spicy as you like, add in the veg you really like, and at least your food will be something you are in charge of during this difficult time.

You can tailor your batch cooking to the space you have available in your fridge and pantry. You can choose the containers you use and how many meals you make at one time, just be sure to use masking tape or some way to keep track of when the food was made and when it should be eaten.

Here are some ideas of things you can get cooking this week!

Cooked: Chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognaise (cook the pasta when needed), lasagne, soups, dahl, risotto, pasta sauces.

Roasted: Sweet potato wedges, brussels sprouts, whole jacket potatoes, carrot.

Grilled: Soft vegies such as zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms.

Stewed: Apples, pears and rhubarb to add to yoghurt or muesli.

These are easy-to-find recipes and reheat well.

Have you been preparing food in bulk to limit trips to the supermarket?

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Written by Ellie Baxter

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