After a long day of work, tapping a few buttons to summon Postmates almost always sounds more appealing than cooking up a meal. But takeout can simultaneously drain your wallet and sabotage your healthy-eating plan. Enter: batch cooking (see also: meal-prep Mondays, bulk cooking, etc). It’s a life-saving habit that can help you eat right even with a busy schedule. Here, Alex Caspero, MA, RD, CLT, RYT, nutrition coach, and consultant, teaches us how to hack a healthier week with batch cooking.
What Is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking is prepping most (or all) of your meals for the week on one day. It gives you the foundation for a healthy week ahead, and makes your week infinitely easier. Don’t worry—you don’t have to slave away in your kitchen all day Sunday to make it work. Batch cooking typically takes one or two hours and saves you tons of time in the long run.
- Tupperware (lots and lots of Tupperware)
- Mixing Bowls
- Roasting Tray
- Fresh Veggies
- Healthy Grains
- Cutting Board
Pro Tips for batch cooking
Roast Hearty Vegetables
“I love roasting vegetables and do a big batch of this almost every weekend,” says Alex. “I use whatever’s in season, but heartier vegetables like squash, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini tend to do best.”
Blanche, Don’t Steam
“If I’m going to cook vegetables but not eat them right away, I’ll blanch them instead of steaming them fully,” says Alex. This way, the veggies won’t get mushy if you want to add them into a stir fry or toss them in with grains or salad greens. “To blanche, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the vegetables. Let cook for one to two minutes, then remove vegetables and place them in a large bowl of icy water to stop the cooking,” she explains.
Make Grains in Bulk
Alex makes a big batch of healthy whole grains (her faves: brown rice, farro, and quinoa). “Having these in the fridge makes for easy bowl-type meals throughout the week. I’ll add in some protein and a yummy dressing or avocado,” she says.
Preserve Leafy Greens
While your quinoa is cooking and your zucchini is roasting, make time to wash your leafy greens. Doing so eliminates an annoying extra step in your weekday cooking routine, and can help keep greens like lettuce, collards, and kale fresh for longer. After rinsing, pat them very dry and wrap the leaves in paper towels. Place them in a large plastic bag, store in the crisper, and voila! Alex says they’ll stay fresh for nearly two weeks.
A Hack to Keep Veggies Crisp
If you plan to nosh on raw veggies throughout the week, you should use this time to prep them. Plan on having diced carrots and celery in your salads? Get out your knife and chop ‘em up. However, once you’ve sliced into them, veggies like bell peppers, carrots, and celery tend to dry out. To keep them crisp for days, store them in the fridge in a dish of cold water, says Alex.