Today’s post is by my good friend and favorite natural chef, Michelle Kabler. Michelle is all about getting busy women cooking again. To accomplish this, Michelle preaches the importance of batch cooking, which she breaks down very simply for us below. Take a look!
You are awesome. In our day of “always-on” work schedules, non-stop social media, and over-scheduling, let’s take a moment to acknowledge how much effort goes into juggling it all. But sometimes things can fall through the cracks – even for the most expert life juggler. Maybe it’s busy season at work and you see your friends less. Or your dating life takes a back seat because you have family business to tend to. Or you’re so over-stretched you never have time to grocery shop or cook healthy food. Sound familiar? How are you supposed to manage your full-time job, thriving social life, workout routine, and eating well?
Meet your new best friend: Batch Cooking.
Batch cooking is setting aside time once a week to prepare mix-and-match dishes that enable you to feel nourished during even the busiest week. You know that dread that comes around 7pm when you suddenly realize you’re starving yet the fridge is empty? With batch cooking, that healthy food you’re craving will be ready to go. No more restaurant takeout, no more eating the same exact leftover meal 6 times in a row, and no more throwing un-eaten groceries in the trash the following week.
Batch cooking requires planning ahead. It means spending a few hours on a Sunday afternoon or Monday night to prep you for the week. Look at it like this: when you consider your lifelong longevity, a few short hours once a week will actually add hours to your weeknights and your life, so you’ll have more time and energy to get back to the things that matter to you most. It’s a no brainer.
Not sure where to start? Here are 3 super easy batch cooking tips to support even the busiest week.
#1 – Make a big batch of roasted vegetables.
This is one of the most hands-off cooking tips you’ll ever implement. Preheat your oven, cut your veggie into bite-sized pieces, toss with oil, salt/pepper, and any additional spices, and roast until tender. That’s it! The temp and cooking time will vary based on the veggie, but this will take you anywhere from 35-45 minutes and save you hours later in the week.
This veggie roast will provide lots of healthy possibilities throughout the week. You can eat them cold as is, reheat in a pan or oven, throw into omelets or frittatas, or eat over salad greens. The key is to mix it up as you eat different meals so you never get sick of it. Feeling tired of what you made? Switch it up next week and opt for a new vegetable.
To get the creative juices flowing, I’m sharing some of my favorite roasting combos below:
Broccoli, garlic, olive oil, salt/pepper
Sweet potatoes, avocado oil, chili powder, salt/pepper
Brussel sprouts, butternut squash, olive oil, salt/pepper
Parsnip spears, thyme, olive oil, salt/pepper
Cauliflower, turmeric, coconut oil, salt/pepper
#2 – Rediscover whole grains.
Chances are when you hear “grains” you immediately think “rice.” Many of us grew up with rice at every meal, and subsequently got sick of it after childhood. Times have changed, and Rice-a-Roni has nothing on the grains available these days. Walk into any Whole Foods or major grocery store, and you’ll find a plethora of grain varieties to try. Translation: you’ll never get tired of the rotation. There’s the common brown rice and quinoa; but there’s also millet, buckwheat, amaranth, farro, and other rice varieties (ever tried black forbidden rice?! Call me when you have).
It’s worth giving whole grains a chance. They add lots of fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and protein to our bodies. Making them yourself will keep out any added preservatives, chemicals, and sugars the food industry sneaks into crackers, breads, and packaged foods. Think of it as a clean, blank canvas for your healthy cooking creations.
After you make a big batch – aim for 1-2 cups of cooked grain per person in the household – go ahead and add grains to your meals throughout the week. Enjoy them plain, make a quick “fried rice” with other veggies and a scrambled egg, throw into salad for texture, or make a grain salad with a little olive oil, parsley, and lemon juice. Trust me, this is not your childhood rice. It’s so much more.
#3 – Prep a bunch of leafy greens.
By now you probably know how healthy dark leafy greens can be. They add lots of anti-inflammatory compounds to our bodies and help keep things moving in our digestive tracts. The darker the green, the more nutrient-dense.
The key to getting more leafy greens into your meals is to prep your veggies at the beginning of the week so they’re good to go. It works with any leafy green that looks fresh in the store – kale, chard, dandelion, collards, mustard greens, the list goes on. As soon as you get home from the store, wash the entire bunch, dry with a towel, tear into pieces, and store in a bag. Some stores like Trader Joe’s sell greens already cut and prepared, and boxed salad brands even sell baby power greens – bonus.
Now your greens are ready to go all week long. Next time you walk in the door late and super hungry (or accidently snooze too many times in the AM), you can throw your greens into smoothies, salads, eggs, quick sautés, or stir fries. No excuses!
Want to dive deeper into batch cooking? Visit my website to download your copy of my 3 Most Delicious Batch Cooking Recipes for FREE. Not only will you feel like a kitchen pro, but cooking these recipes will also set yourself up for feeling your best during even the busiest of weeks. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking.
Happy and healthy,