I love batch cooking or Once a Week Cooking! Instead of starting from scratch every night I prefer to cook large batches of food to mix and match for various meals throughout the week. It saves me time, money but most importantly my sanity. Most of the time I’ll just cook my beans and grains and chop veggies for the week but sometimes I get it all done.
Check out my before and after. There are a few things missing from the “before” picture like frozen organic corn, eggplant and spices.
Batch cooking, or in this case, Once A Week Cooking is tough; especially when you are also doing laundry, changing diapers and trying to keep your little ones out of the way. I didn’t prepare every meal for the week but I prepared a lot. The items that didn’t get eaten are tucked into my freezer.
My Once A Week Cooking Plant-Based Menu
- A 2 quart pitcher of cooked black beans
- Black Bean and Quinoa Salad, Chopped Romaine and extra Salsa
- Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers (about a dozen), sliced tomatoes and lettuce
- Oven Roasted Potatoes
- Corn Chowder
- Veggie Pasta with onions, eggplant, broccoli, red bell peppers, garlic and tomatoes
- Cooked Quinoa
- Salad with kale, spinach, romaine, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and broccoli *salad dressing not pictured
Creating a Schedule for Once A Week Cooking
It is helpful to cook foods that have a long cooking time first or even the day before. I cooked the black beans the day before so I wouldn’t have to wait to make the Black Bean Quinoa Salad or Black Bean-Quinoa Burgers.
Since my beans were already cooked I began with washing, cutting and roasting the potatoes followed by cooking the quinoa. As the quinoa cooked I began chopping veggies for the soup and salads. This particular menu was very labor intensive. After chopping the veggies I began cooking the Corn Chowder and assembling salads. Once the quinoa was finished cooking I mixed the Black Bean and Quinoa Salad together then started the pasta. As the pasta cooked I made the Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers.
Have a Plan. You must have a plan if you hope to cook all of your meals for the week in a few hours. Decide what you want to cook and make a list of all of the ingredients needed. Alternately if you have already done your shopping make a list of ingredients and try to match them to recipes. If you need to use recipes have them available.
Don’t forget to set a timer or timers. With lots of stuff cooking it is easy to forget how long something has cooked. I find it helpful to jot down notes every time something begins or ends with the time next to it. It also helps me keep track of how long it is taking me for the whole menu so I can do better in the future.
Start with a Clean Kitchen. It doesn’t have to be sparkling clean but having the dishes washed and counters clear with be a huge help.
Keep up with the dishes. I use almost every pan I own when I batch cook like this. Often I wash and reuse the same one but sometimes I have all 4 burners going and pans in the oven.
Clean out your fridge first. You will need a lot of room in your fridge for all of the food you have prepared (you will also need a lot of containers).
I still have to make breakfast, although I like to use the cooked quinoa for that and make Breakfast Quinoa or Summer Berry Quinoa but cereal works too. There is plenty of food here for lunches but we love sunbutter sandwiches and veggie sandwiches for quick and easy meals.
If you are new to cooking beans check out one of my first posts where I discuss planning and how to cook beans. Another great resource is my pal Jacqueline at Barefoot Essence and her un-fussy Meal Maps. I’m constantly shaking my head YES as I read her blog.
Do you batch cook? What tip would you add to the list?
If you need help getting started check out my NEW Plant-Based Meal Plans. They include a 5 Day Dinner Meal Plan, Prep Sheet with easy to follow instructions to get your batch cooking accomplished, Shopping List and Recipes!