Knowing how to batch cook can be daunting for the first time. Batch cooking for beginners will teach you how to batch cook for the week, freeze meals and make a meal plan. We will talk you through batch cooking some healthy meal ideas. You can download our monthly meal planner here.
After a busy day at work, it can be incredibly frustrating to come home and realize you haven’t got anything ready for tea.
The temptation is to throw some fish fingers on a baking sheet and serve some frozen chips. The kids will probably love it. However, no one else in the house will thank you!
When you’re in a hurry, the other option is a ready meal, which comes in small portions and is loaded with sugar and salt, leaving you and your family unsatisfied and nutritionally defunct!
Wouldn’t it be great to have on hand some healthy home-cooked meals ready to defrost and stick in the oven or microwave when life has thrown you a dodgeball?
We’ve got some fantastic tips in our batch cooking for beginners guide to help you start on your journey to batch cooking meals. We’ve made the steps simple to follow, and you’ll find that most of them are meals you are used to cooking. You may only need to tweak your skills to freeze larger portions.
So, without further ado, let’s ditch the oven chips and learn how to prepare some easy freezer meals for the whole family. Let’s start batch cooking for beginners!
Before you begin batch cooking, you will need
- Large pans
- Large bowls
- Slow cooker (optional) to free up some time
- Freezer labels and sharpie
- Food processor (optional) for chopping large portions of onions and for grating.
- Soup maker (optional)
- Suitable containers or bags for freezing
- Pantry staples from your list
- Sharp knife and chopping board
- A clutter-free space to work
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What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking is a simple way to prepare your weekly or monthly meals in advance. By cooking more than one portion and freezing them, you can thaw and use a different dish every day as a healthy meal when you want to save time. It is a much better alternative for your family than ready meals and jars of tomato sauce, often high in salt, sugar, and other additives.
What are the benefits of batch cooking freezer meals?
✔️ Batch cooking freezer meals allows you to have a ready-cooked, homemade dinner available whenever you need it.
✔️ It is far cheaper cooking your make ahead meals than buying store-bought ready meals
✔️ Homemade meals are far healthier than ready meals as you control everything you add to the dish.
✔️ You can adjust your meals to suit your ffamily’sdietary requirements, such as nut allergies, gluten, and lactose intolerance.
✔️ batch cooking means you can avoid salt, sugars, and other unhealthy preservatives and additives.
✔️ You can hide blended vegetables into the sauces of most healthy freezer meals to ensure your kids are getting extra portions of vegetables at every meal.
Batch cooking for beginners
In meal planning for beginners, I discussed creating a meal plan for all your weekly meals. Hopefully, you’re now well on your way to getting organized for your family meal planning. You could catch up here if you missed it.
We also talked about meal prep time and discussed how to prepare everything you need to create your healthy family meal in advance. If you’d like to catch up, read it here.
In this post, we take it to a whole other level; we discuss how to fill up your freezer with healthy portions of homemade freezer meals so that you can reap the benefits of healthy freezer-friendly family meals every day!
And the great thing is, it’s straightforward to execute!
Batch cooking for beginners
- Check the meal planner
Check the meal planner you created in this post , and have a look at each meal you’ve listed. Decide which meals you could quickly cook for batch cooking.
I’ve included a long list of freezer-friendly meals below to help you get some ideas if you are stuck.
When batch cooking for families, the rule is to check how many weeks are in that month and multiply the ingredients by the number of weeks.
So, for instance, if I usually use a 1x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes to make one spaghetti bolognese meal and there were five weeks in the month, I’d put five tins of tomatoes on my shopping list.
I find it easier to cook an enormous batch of one meal and freeze it than to spend a whole afternoon preparing a month’s worth of meals, but you do whatever you find suits you best.
Cooking one freezer meal will take longer to build up a stock of dinners but is less time-consuming to prepare, and shopping for ingredients is simpler.
- Plan your day
Decide whether you would prefer to make extra portions when you are preparing that meal for dinner or whether you would prefer to spend an afternoon batch cooking all your meals for the freezer.
I call this my bulk cooking day! I spend a whole day one-weekend batch cooking for the week. Sometimes if I’m making tea, I will double batch the meal and stick the leftovers in the freezer for another day.
- Declutter your freezer.
Check you’ve got space in the freezer as you will need to put those freezer meals somewhere! Get rid of any out-of-date food and anything that is unlabeled.
Use baskets to organize the space in your freezer and group categories of foods together for easy access.
- Get your freezer cooking supplies ready!
Make sure you’ve got labels like these ones and suitable meal prep containers like these for both family portions, and single servings.
I prefer to use freezer bags like these ones as meal prepping containers, so I can freeze the food flat and store the bags in a filing system, as you can see in the video below.
Be mindful when choosing batch cooking storage containers, as the larger and less flexible the container the more room it will take up in your freezer.
You can get a handy holder like this ,to make filling your bags easier, cool batches, and prevent a mess!
Make sure you have ample-sized pans or an extra–large slow cooker like this one, big enough to cook the food you’ll be preparing.
- Make a shopping list.
Make a shopping list and go shopping, don’t get distracted. Only purchase what you need! Download our handy grocery list here.
These are the batch cooking basics I follow to start healthy batch cooking.
It’s essential to have your pantry stocked well with ingredients to make batch cooking easier and cheaper, especially on a budget!
The general rule I follow for batch cooking is to make 4-5 x more food than you would for one family meal.
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Batch cooking for beginners meal ideas
We all have our favorite meals to cook each week. My advice is to batch cook the foods you usually prepare for the week but increase the portions to freeze. My favorite meals for freezing are:
- Pasta/Ragu sauces
- Baked potatoes
- Mashed potatoes
- Mashed vegetable
- Shredded chicken
- Lamb hotpot
- Cottage pie
- Shephards pie
- Bean dishes
- Carrot and orange
- Leek and potato
- Roasted pepper and tomato
- Butternut squash and ginger
Sauces and stocks to freeze
- Curry sauce
- Ragu pasta sauce
- Chicken stock
- Beef stock
- Fish stock
- Ham stock
- Vegetable stock
Beef freezer meal ideas
- Beef stew
- Beef Casserole
- Beef curry
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Cottage pie
- Beef brisket
- Ground beef
Chicken freezer meal ideas
- Chicken casserole
- Chicken curry
Pork freezer meal ideas
- Sausage casserole
- Pulled pork
Lamb freezer meal ideas
- Moroccan lamb tagine
- Shepherds pie
- Lamb curry
- Lamb cobbler
Vegetarian freezer meal ideas
- Bean and Lentil Chilli
- Quorn chilli
- Quorn curry
- Vegetable curry
- Quorn shepherds pie
- Bean burgers
- Baked potatoes
- Vegetable and bean lasagne
Kids frozen meals.
- Fish pies
- Shepherds pies
- Pasta Sauces
- Mild curry dishes
- Mild chilli dishes
- Spaghetti bolognese
Add your favorite meals to the list. Try to keep your family’s meal planning as simple as you can until you get used to batch cooking. Once you’ve become comfortable with the whole process, you can begin adding more adventurous meals!
My family’s favourite easy freezer meal recipe
Here is my family’s favorite healthy meal, spaghetti bolognese. You can download the printable version here to get you started on your meal planning and freezer meals journey!
✔️ Remember to adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly!
✔️ Replace the meat with Quorn for a healthy vegetarian spaghetti bolognese.
Here are some pans of chili, spag bol, and beef stew that I batched cooked at the weekend to save money and time cooking for a week.
Batch cooking for beginners summary
Work your way through all the meals on your list,
✔️ Prepare your meals in advance, freeze them in appropriate portions.
✔️ Freeze some mashed root vegetables such as carrot, swede, turnip,and potatoes as side dish or serve with salad and brown rice
✔️ Before you know it, you should have an entire month’s meals made in advance!
How to bulk up your freezer meals
It can be expensive to buy a lot of meat when batch cooking. So it’s a good idea to bulk out your meat dishes with some suitable fillers. The healthiest way to bulk out meals to add some beans or lentils to the recipes. Beans and pulses are high in protein and fiber and keep you fuller for longer. They are also super cheap! I use dried beans and lentils and cook them in a Ninja Foodi pressure cooker like this one, so they do not need to be soaked overnight!
I usually add one cup of beans per food dish and approximately 1 cup of lentils per meal.
✔️ Chickpeas are fabulous in soups and curries
✔️ Butterbeans are great in tomato-based sauces
✔️ Red kidney beans are great for chillis and lasagne
✔️ Haricot beans are great for everything from chilli , lasagne, pasta dishes, curry, and bolognese
✔️ Lentils are perfect in curries, chilli, lasagne, soups, and bolognese.
✔️ All these ideas are great for vegan batch cooking too.
How to batch cook vegetarian freezer meals.
Whether you’re a vegetarian, prefer meat-free meals, or have vegetarian friends, it’s always a good idea to have a few vegetarian dishes in the freezer ready for when the need calls. There are many ways to tweak your usual meat dishes into vegetarian options.
✔️ Use meat substitutes such as Quorn.
✔️ Replace meat with vegetable chunks
✔️ Replace meat with beans and pulses
Slow cooking freezer meals.
I like to use a Ninja foodi slow cooker like this one to batch cook most of my family’s freezer meals, as it allows me to batch cook while I’m at work or out with the kids!
To speed up my batch cooking, if I’m batch cooking all the meals in one day, I will use the Ninja foodi pressure cooker like this one, it can cook most meals in 20 minutes, including stews and hotpots!
If you are buying a pressure cooker or slow cooker, think about getting a 6.5-litre size like this one to ensure you can make a huge batch!
Frequently asked Q&A
I am vegetarian, so I like anything with a delicious tomato sauce, so my go-to meal would be pasta made with my own healthy homemade sauce. I usually freeze my sauce in single portions. I use this for pasta, beans, casseroles, and soup. It’s low in fat, sugar and salt, so perfect for the whole family for a quick healthy meal!
Most gluten-free recipes can be tweaked for once a month batch cooking, but my go-to place for gluten free recipes would be https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/gluten-free-recipes
Batch cooking for one means it will be much quicker to fill up your freezer! Follow the tips above and make enough to last you a month. For example, if you cook once a week instead of making one portion of your favorite dish make enough for four portions and freeze.
I like to keep things simple when cooking, as it’s my least favorite part of homemaking. I prefer to stick to recipes that only have a couple of ingredients. I tend to stick to Jamie Oliver freezer meals as they only use five ingredients and are healthy, quick, and easy to follow, especially when batch cooking on a budget. These easy meals have excellent recipe ratings and are easy to follow.
A batch can be any size. Batch is a generic name for making more than one portion of food to store in your freezer for eating at a later date. This can be once a month cooking or making more than you need for each meal and freezing the leftovers. It is up to you how much you want to cook and freeze.
I hope you found this batch cooking guide for beginners helpful let us know your tips for once-a-week cooking in the comments!
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Knowing how to batch cook can be daunting for the first time. Batch cooking for beginners will teach you how to batch cook for the week, freeze meals and make a meal plan. We will talk you through batch cooking some healthy meal ideas. You can download our monthly meal planner here. After a busy […]