How do I do all this healthy cooking, stay sane and have a life?
When I transformed my kitchen into a whole foods kitchen, I saw that eating in a truly healthy way does take some time. But I’d much rather spend my time surfing with my kids than slaving in the kitchen for hours each day… so I learned batch cooking. With batch cooking I stay organized, feed my family nutritious meals all week long AND spend a lot less time in the kitchen! I found it’s also key to prepare quick, healthy school lunch boxes every morning in just a few minutes.
Read on to learn how to create space in your life for a whole new way of cooking and eating.
How You Can Batch Cook for Healthy Eating All Week Long
The concept of batch cooking is a traditional trick used by generations before us. It’s a system of preparing for a week of meals ahead of time that allows you to spend the least amount of time cooking while still dishing up thoughtful, healthy meals. Rather than throwing something together in a rushed, hungry moment (which may not be the healthiest choice), you get to save time and eat healthy—double bonus!!
To batch cook, choose a three-hour window one or two days a week, depending on how many people you cook for. I usually select Sunday and Monday for our family of four. You’ll be surprised how much you can cook in just three hours.
Batch cooking will make your week more manageable and more organized, especially if you are busy with work, social life, kids’ activities, and preparing lunch boxes every day! Batch cooking also saves you from lots of little trips to the grocery store. One trip and you’ll have all you need for your week’s meal plan—just don’t forget anything ;)!
Which Foods to Batch Cook
Batch cooking works particularly well for certain kinds of dishes. Exactly what you make depends on what you want to eat that week. You may not make each of these kinds of recipes every single week—you can just pick what you need.
To get you started, here is a guide to the basic categories of batch cooking:
A legume a week provides an excellent nutritional anchor to your menu. Cooking legumes take a bit of preparation, as you need to soak them for 8 to 10 hours. Either soak them overnight, if you remember, or set the alarm for first thing in the morning so you can cook them that evening. Lentils, chickpeas, and all types of beans are some of our favorites. For our family of four, I often make two per week.
Lentils are great because I can use them for a stew or soup and cold in salads for lunch. Chickpeas are delicious to snack on plain, in curries, and for hummus dip. I add red and black beans to my kid’s lunch salads along with rice and olives–it’s their favorite!
Grains are also a staple in well-rounded meals. You can vary which ones you make from week to week to keep things interesting for your body and your tastebuds.
Some grains we love, like millet, brown rice, and buckwheat groats, need to be soaked in water for hours before cooking. Quinoa and couscous are both delicious and don’t require a presoak, but between the two, we opt for quinoa because it’s more nutritious and gluten-free.
Grains are great for lunch salads for both kids and adults. We like to use rice or buckwheat groats as an ingredient in gluten-free, vegan bread and veggie bites. Cooked quinoa freezes well–it will still be tasty when you defrost it.
Here is where time spent now really helps you out later, on that busy night when you just need something ready to heat up and eat. It could be a quiche, veggie burgers, meat burgers (if you choose to eat meat), a soup... but a dish made now is a quick and healthy meal later!
Some of our LiveliFood dishes can even be frozen, ready to be conveniently reheated over the next couple of weeks.
NUT-HOLA (Healthy Granola)
Nut-hola is LiveliFood’s version of breakfast granola but healthier, baked at home with just a mix of nuts and a little coconut oil. It’s convenient to keep some stored in a mason jar—you can make a large quantity (2 large oven trays), so it lasts a week or more.
Nut-hola makes a delicious breakfast with a splash of any kind of milk, and you can sprinkle it on desserts and fruit bowls for some added protein and a nice crunchy texture. My very favorite way to eat it is spooned on top of greek yogurt or kefir... yum!
When I’m turning on the oven to bake the Nut-hola, healthy granola, I also sneak in a tray of vegetables!
Sweet potatoes, beetroot, pumpkin, cauliflower, or any other vegetable you like—they’ll add lots of flavor and texture to your salads. You can store them in the fridge for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container.
A dip is a perfect thing to have ready and waiting in your fridge when you need a snack. Hummus is a great choice—dip in with chopped raw vegetables like celery, carrot and broccoli.
When there’s time, I like to make a sweet treat. It’s perfect if you think a craving might sneak up on you–you already have a healthy option that won’t throw you off your whole food eating!
Or, if batch cooking a dessert isn’t happening for you this week, a simple piece of fruit, berries, or nuts satisfies in that moment too!
Cooking a few of these things one or two days a week will keep you organized, make your time in the kitchen more efficient, and keep your whole household eating healthy.
Thanks for being here, and leave me some comments; I would love to know how it goes!