Confession: I don’t love cooking. Not even a little bit. Up until a few months ago, menu planning filled my soul with dread. Each night around dinner time, I didn’t enjoy stopping whatever I was doing to go create a meal. I’ve often wished I was one of those women who loved cooking gourmet food, learning new skills & kinds of food to make. But I just don’t.
Enter: Batch Cooking. I may have realized that I’m not cut out for gourmet cooking… but I adore baking. Batches of sweet, tasty muffins with perfectly crispy edges. Cakes, pies… you name it, I love making it. As I was thinking about baking one day, it dawned on me: Baking happens in batches. The kitchen only gets messed up once, & I have a week’s worth of breakfast muffins to show for it.
Armed with this new knowledge, I began planning our meals in batches instead of single meals. I can’t possibly be the only one who doesn’t enjoy cooking, so I thought I would share with you how I plan our meals! We have a fairly simple goal for our eating habits:
We try to focus on natural/organic foods.
While we can’t afford just go to the health food store & buy all organic, we try to purchase organic on the “dirty dozen” list, & buy the most natural meats we can swing each week. We also avoid lots of processed foods (especially if we can barely pronounce the ingredients). Shopping at Aldi has been a HUGE help in this endeavor, because they have a great selection of affordable organic, non-GMO, & grass-fed products!
Okay: on to the “Batch Cooking Method.”
Plan Meals in Batches.
Hubs & I talk about what we want to eat that week on our way to the grocery store. Each meal we choose, I plan on cooking enough to last for 2 complete dinners & at least one lunch. We usually plan 3 different dinners per week, (we often splurge on dinner out one night!). Breakfasts usually consist of scrambled eggs, & a side of potatoes (pre-roasted) or some type of meat. Lunches are usually leftovers from dinners, or peanut butter & jelly for the kids.
Buy Food in Batches:
I usually plan on buying two different kinds of meat for the week, & cook them several different ways so they stretch over an entire week. For example, this week I bought a large package of 6 chicken breasts. I grilled them as whole breasts, nuggets, & skinny strips all at one time. If I buy ground beef, then some is used to make homemade sausage for breakfasts, as well as meat sauce for spaghetti. We get a variety of fresh & frozen veggies, & roast several 9×13 glass pans full at one time.
Cooking in Batches:
Some people who batch cook like to do it all at once, on a scheduled day. I don’t really enjoy schedules, so I tend to cook whenever the mood strikes, & just cook a LOT. A few nights ago I got a wild hair to cook, & prepped an entire pack of chicken for the week. I don’t often feel like cooking, so when I do, I try to make the most of it. When there’s more food than we’ll eat in a week, freezer bags with labels & dates come to the rescue!
Trust me: If you’re anything like me, there will still be some night were you just don’t feel like cooking dinner. Yep, even after all this semi-careful planning. Buy at least one extra “cheat” meal to prepare for those nights. A box or two of organic macaroni & cheese, some organic applesauce. Maybe a frozen bag of green beans you can sauté in a few minutes, or those steam-in-a-bag veggie & rice combos.
Last, but not least:
Don’t Sweat It.
If you don’t get it right this week, you can always try again. Get a good list of meals your family loves, try to plan as best as you can, & don’t stress if you eat at Chick-Fil-A two nights in a row. 😆