Last October, my fiancee Nicole and I completed the Whole30 challenge to see what foods we were sensitive to and reprogram our cravings.
During the 30 days, the biggest challenge for me was creating recipes that were compliant with the rules of the diet, without spending tons of time in the kitchen. If you’re not familiar with Whole30, it’s an elimination diet that restricts five major food categories including sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy (the hardest one for me as a dairy farmer!) in order to identify and personalize a diet to your body’s specific needs.
Long story short, all the fast and easy foods were off-limits so I had to learn a new set of skills to keep myself full without spending all my time in the kitchen.
Sound familiar? You may not be doing an elimination diet but I’m sure you spend enough time in the kitchen and wish there was a way to cut back.
The problem all of us face is that eating healthy takes time. Junk food is called convenience food for a reason, and it’s because often real food meals are much more time-consuming to prepare.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Thankfully, a simple strategy for cooking saved me tons of time on Whole30 and can help you provide amazing healthy foods that nourish your family without being in the kitchen all the time.
It’s called batch cooking. I’m sure you’ve probably done it in some way before, but I’d like to encourage you to do more of it to save time.
Batch cooking saves time and makes healthy meals cheaper and more convenient.
Here’s how I like to think about batch cooking:
- Choose a day each week to plan your meals. It always takes time to set up for creating a recipe, including shopping for the ingredients and gathering your utensils. Batching all this into one day or evening of the week for certain items like bone broth, soups, and stews, or grass-fed meats can cut down the amount of time you take. Imagine having pre-made convenience foods available at your fingertips all week because you chose one day and planned ahead! While any day can work, many people find a weekend like Saturday works well. Choose what works for you and go for it! I found batch cooking worked best for me on Saturday afternoons for bone broth, tortillas, and homemade soup.
- Pick a recipe and double or triple it. You won’t be able to create every recipe in batch amounts, but for things like soups, stews, and chili, making a double or triple recipe can go a long way toward having a supply of ready-made meals in your freezer ready on short notice. Besides that, often the flavor is better the second time because spices have had time to mingle and mellow.
- Store in convenient containers for reheating on the go. You know how much you need for a meal, so do yourself a favor and freeze your extra batch in a container just right for your next meal. It’s best to use non-toxic containers for all food storage like glass, but if you don’t have that option be sure to let the food cool before adding to a plastic container for storage. More toxins are released when hot food is placed inside the plastic. Simply take a container out in the morning and thaw it while you’re busy during the day. It’ll be ready to heat up and serve for supper!
As I’ve mentioned before, my family has learned many real food tips and tricks due to a family member who struggles with hashimotos, a thyroid condition that is affected by food sensitivities, sleep patterns, exercise routines, and stress. As a result, tricks like batch cooking and sourcing real food that we grew on our farm has been a way to make healthy living a lifestyle for us, not just a dream.
Do you have a favorite food you like to batch cook? Do you have some time-saving tips? Let us know!
Some of the info from this post was sourced from the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott, NTP. Highly recommended!
I detest the smell of cooking ground beef. So, now I batch cook 5-7 lbs of it at a time with some onions and minced garlic. Then I separate it into 1lb portions in freezer baggies and freeze them. Spaghetti night? Ready in a minute! Tacos? No problem. Chili comes together in less than no time. It’s been such a blessing. And I only have to smell that smell once in a while! Yay!
You’ve got it down! We absolutely love onions and garlic in our ground beef too 🙂 Healthy convenience food is where it’s at. Keep it up!
I recently purchased an Instant Pot after months of debating whether I wanted another appliance in the kitchen, the intimidation of learning how to use a pressure cooker, andcooking in stainless after having left that behind years ago. The energy savings,time savings, and the attraction of not heating up the kitchen during the summers won out. It’s early yet but I’m amazed at how nearly effortless it is to use, how making broth is now a 15 minute process at the front and back end, and how silent it is while it’s working. It seems almost magical…I call it my witches cauldron (I have an 8 qt). I’m still tweaking recipes, in particular how much liquid to add because a weak tasting broth, for example, can result. At this point, though, I’m pretty impressed. It’s a big time and energy saver.
That’s wonderful, Marjorie! You’ll have to let us know what recipe you find works best for broth in the Instant Pot. We have one (also an 8 quart) but have yet to learn to use it. Great time saver for sure!
I use whatever ingredients I have on hand, trying to waste as little as possible. Most importantly, I avoid the temptation to cover the ingredients with water since very little water is lost during pressure cooking; so less water than stove-top cooking. My last batch, which had really nice flavor, had a left-over roasted chicken carcass including all the left-over bones from plates, a pound each of chicken necks and feet, and a pound of turkey breast that had gotten older in the freezer, a few stalks of celery, a few carrots, peppercorns, one or two crushed bay leaves, a hand full of fresh parsley, and chopped shallots and garlic instead of onion because of the high tyramine levels in onion, which I have problems with. I am not adding a shot of vinegar because I’m uncertain about what, if any, reaction might occur with the stainless steel pot. Even the ceramic surfaces of my Le Cruset pots were degraded by vinegar. The result is still a very nicely gelled broth. Cooking in the Instant Pot: low pressure for two hours with natural release of the pressure…Contrast this with trying to keep a pot at a gentle simmer from 12-24 hours on the stove or in the oven. Even though I love cooking over fire – seems so the way cooking is meant to be- the energy savings alone is impressive.