Some of the most common ‘concerns’ about eating more vegan food, are about both the time it can take to prepare the foods – especially when new to recipes, and whether it will be more expensive.
I would say to both of these points that preparing vegan meals is just as easy and cheap as any other meals, yes at the beginning of trying out ANY new recipes and learning how to use new foods, it will take more effort to ensure the results are both tasty and provide a balanced diet overall – but with the right support it is easy to achieve.
What is batch cooking? it is simply a way of preparing food ahead of time in bigger quantities, so you have readily available meals in your own refrigerator or freezer! Its also fast tracks preparing meals throughout the week and ensures costs are lower at the same time as there is less waste. We can also ensure the quality and ingredients within our foods, and avoid the hassle of trying to find last minute vegan ready meals or expensive take out options – all of which may contain more fat, salt or sugar than you choose in your diet.
Batch size? well for me a batch means multiple meals/portions – so you can decide for yourself how many portions to make in each catch depending on what foods you are making. You may wish to multiple the quantities required for a given recipe to minimise the waste – for a simple example if a recipe requires quarter of an onion, I would make four times that volume to use the whole onion at one time.
Best recipes? many recipes will store really well, especially vegan ones but do check that your chosen ones will freeze and defrost/reheat well. The types of food that work really well are stews, pies, many sauces, curries, cottage pies, lasagna, casseroles and soups to name a few.
Top tips: Here are some top tips on how to batch cook:
- Make batches of different recipes, so you can pick and mix from your freezer during the week rather than eating the same meal every night
- Set time aside to batch cook when you can motor through the veg prep and cooking. It may seem like a big investment in time when you do it at first, but trust me, it will pay off when you can quickly heat portions throughout the week
- Try some recipes which you can add to other quick prep/cook items to make to complete and vary meals, for example a basic mince or lentil Bolognese recipe without the pasta could be batch cooked and then made into different meals like:
- Add spaghetti for a traditional Bolognese
- Top with mashed potato to make a cottage pie
- Add extra chilli and garlic and mix with pasta for a spicy pasta bake
- Put inside a tortilla wrap with salad
- Serve with rice and v-cheese
How to batch
- Buy appropriate portion sized containers which can be found easily and cheaply, so you can properly store your food in the fridge or freezer
- Clearly mark the container with what food is inside with a permanent marker – it can often look very similar when frozen!
- Clearly mark the date you stored the food, so you can be sure to eat the older batches first
- Fill containers with appropriate sized portions for you, so you only get the amount you need out of the freezer each time. This could be stored as portions for 1, 1 and half (child?) or 2 etc
For those who are new to batch cooking, I hope this has inspired you to give it a try and for those to whom this is ‘old hat’ please do leave your ideas and comments to help others too. Do keep an eye out for future batch recipes and let me know if you have any requests.