Batch cooking best practices
Make sure you have the space AND containers to store the food you batch cook
If you’re going to batch cook meals, then cool and freeze them, you’re going to need freezer space as well as airtight containers – and you’re going to need quite a lot of both. As well as being airtight, your containers will have to be able to be stored at extremely low temperature, since you’re going to keep them in the freezer, which means they’ll usually be made of plastic. Not all plastic is equal though, as scientists have found it can leach nasty chemicals like BPA into food, which can disrupt the endocrine system in humans. To ensure you avoid this leakage, make sure your batch cooking storage containers are BPA free when you purchase them.
Consider batch cooking larger quantities of food
If you know you and your family enjoy a particular meal, such as beef stew, why not think about doubling up on the amount you cook up at your next batch cooking session? You’ll save on time cooking, preparing and washing up afterwards and it makes sense, since you know it’s a family favourite that will always get eaten. You can do this with one meal or with several, helping you cut down on even more time – and you’ll save money too, as you can purchase in bulk at discount!
Slightly underdo the vegetables in your batch cooked dishes
A lot of meals you make will need reheating, like stews and casseroles, as they simply won’t taste nice cold. Vegetables tend to cook quickly, then go mushy when they are overdone and when they get reheated, they’ll be getting another round of cooking. By undercooking the vegetables in your dishes that won’t be eaten cold, you’ll keep them fresh and tasty – so reduce the time you spend boiling or browning veg before you freeze and store.
Freeze and store meals in portion sizes to prevent food waste
Think about it, if you’re storing a large quantity of beef stew that’s already cooked and it’s too much for your family to eat in one sitting, some of it is going to go to waste when it defrosts. To prevent this wastage, aim to store the amount of cooked and cooled food you’re likely to need at one time in separate containers, so you can pull it out, then thaw it, before cooking and serving. This can also apply to frozen pre-prepared uncooked meals, as well as meal parts, as you’ll still have to defrost the ingredients. By storing everything in handy portion sizes, you’ll avoid having to throw away food you never got around to eating!
Clearly label your batch cooked meals
Make sure you know what you’ve already got in your freezer by clearly labelling the meals you store, along with the date they were cooked. This helps you use up meals before they lose flavour and essential nutrients, which is typically around the 3 month mark. It will also help you to identify at a glance the dishes you have to choose from, saving you time rummaging through multiple containers. If you won’t be the only one using the freezer to pull out meals and defrost, it will also save others from having to guess what the mystery dishes in your freezer are- and will prevent them from thawing out a meal they then discover they don’t like, or can’t eat.