How to Get the Best Out of Batch Cooking

How to Get the Best Out of Batch Cooking

Batch cooking is a real buzzword on homemaking and cooking blogs as well as social media, but it really isn’t new. Preserving seasonal harvests and abundance for use out of season, or in times of scarcity is the original batch cooking (the cellar cupboard full of winter squash and 20+ jars of marmalade is testament to that in my house at the moment!)

If you’ve been batch cooking for a while you might think this post isn’t for you, but I have found that a few well spent pennies has revolutionised the efficiency of my batch cooking/preserving as well as made it much more enjoyable.

For the beginners among you, or those yet to begin, this list will give you a great base for batch cooking and you may find you don’t need to add to it at all. You may also find as you do more of it that you identify where extras of an item, or something more niche that not everyone would need, can come in handy for you and save you time, effort or waste. But to start with, these are the must-haves for batch cooking.

Top 5 Must-Haves for Batch Cooking

1. Freezer to Oven Cookware

I have a couple of beautiful lasagne dishes, dishes for making crumbles and so on, but these aren’t optimal for batch cooking for several reasons. Most of them don’t have lids and so can’t be easily stored in the fridge or freezer. Trying to use clingfilm or other disposable covering will likely result in freezer burn, which will affect the texture of your reheated meal, or the food being exposed to other items in the fridge or freezer meaning you may not want to eat it at all!

You don’t want to tie up your best dishes for ages in the fridge or freezer, and more decorative dishes are often much more expensive so buying enough of them to batch cooking can be prohibitive.

Efficient storage when in use and when not in use is key to the best batch cooking dishes. The ones I use stack inside each other and on top of each other making them much more versatile in the cupboard as well as in the fridge or freezer.

2. Slow Cooker or Large Casserole Dish

For full disclosure, I do not have a slow cooker, for the simple reason that I use an Everhot (a heat storage cooker) and this is always on, with customised temperatures for each oven. For this reason, and for those of you who may be using a heat storage or range cooker (not to be confused with free standing cookers, which are operated like conventional ovens but are referred to as range cookers because of their appearance), I recommend a large capacity casserole dish for batch cooking. I am a big fan of ProCook cookware, as they offer really high quality at an excellent price point. Just be warned, a large cast iron dish is very heavy, so a metal stock pot may be better if you have issues with lifting heavier items.

If you have a standard oven or are trying to reduce energy use, a slow cooker is definitely the way to go. Recipes may need to be adjusted but there are many resources online with slow cooker-friendly recipes, as well as books dedicated to slow cooking. You can use them for anything from porridge, to soup and chilli – even whole joints of meat. Again, a large capacity is crucial if you want to make enough to eat straight away and have some left for freezing. This slow cooker is a very well known brand and a great size for the price.

3. Tried and Tested Recipes

I thought about putting this as number 1, just to make it super clear that it really is the most important thing for batch cooking. If you take away nothing else from this article, let it be this: please don’t make huge portions of a recipe you’ve never tried, or a meal that you and your family aren’t that keen on!

It sounds so simple but if you’re not an experienced cook or are turning to batch cooking in desperation because you have no time to cook from scratch every day of the week, it is too easy to be lured in to a “super easy leftover soup” or “slow cooker chilli” when noone in your house likes chilli and the reason the vegetables in your fridge are leftover is because they aren’t a favourite.

Recipes don’t become better cooked in bulk, in fact for many, eating leftovers in general is something they aren’t keen on and it can take some getting used to to get the whole family on board. There is nothing that will deter you from batch cooking faster than finding yourself with a freezer full of something no one wants to eat!

That being said, there are many wonderful recipes designed to feed 3-4 which can be easily and successfully scaled up and frozen to make delicious meals for those manic weekdays.

4. Labels

I have become fairly accomplished at deciphering what’s inside a frozen dish of food, but it is so much easier if things are properly labelled. Not only does labelling help you take out what you need, it allows you to eat food while it’s still at it’s best (yes, even frozen food degrades over time). These can be used in the fridge and freezer, and come with a suitable pen. They’re even decorative enough to use for labelling jars of preserves or display jars.

My mother in law once made crumble topping with breadcrumbs after accidentally defrosting the wrong thing, my mother roasted a leg of pork which turned out to be a gammon, and I defrosted some onion gravy which turned out to be meatballs in sauce. They make for funny stories but it can be a real disaster if you think you’ve taken out a family meal only to find out some hours later it’s a dish of stewed fruit!

Batch Cooking Must-Haves

Please note, this feature may contain affiliate links.

Food Storage Dishes
Economical freezer to oven food storage
Freezer labels and pen
For keeping track of stored meals
Stock Pot
Lighter alternative to cast iron
Perfect for low-effort delicious dinners
Cast iron Casserole
Perfect for oven cooking big portions
Food Storage Dishes
Economical freezer to oven food storage
Freezer labels and pen
For keeping track of stored meals
Stock Pot
Lighter alternative to cast iron
Perfect for low-effort delicious dinners
Cast iron Casserole
Perfect for oven cooking big portions
Food Storage Dishes
Economical freezer to oven food storage
Freezer labels and pen
For keeping track of stored meals
Stock Pot
Lighter alternative to cast iron
Perfect for low-effort delicious dinners
Cast iron Casserole
Perfect for oven cooking big portions

5. A Meal Plan

Making the most of your batch cooking can be helped with the use of a meal plan. What dishes do you find yourself making weekly or fortnightly? Can all or part of them be cooked in bulk and what ingredients will you need? If you prefer not to, or don’t have space to freeze large amounts, what variations of a meal can you make in a week to make the most of a single cooking session? For example, if you batch cook a base of mince with onion, garlic, tinned tomato and mixed herbs, during the week you can add kidney beans, peppers and chilli powder to make a chilli; add basil and parsley, perhaps some red wine, and serve as a ragu with pasta; or add some cinnamon and mint and layer up with aubergine and potato and bechamel sauce in a moussaka. If you have plenty of space, these things still apply and freezing a base in this way allows you a great variety of meals than repeatedly defrosting a bolognese until everyone is fed up with it.

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