The number-one secret to saving time in the kitchen? Batch cooking. With our dietitian-designed, make-ahead meal plan, you can make most of the recipe components on Sunday so all you have to do is heat, assemble and eat all week long.
Batch cooking doesn’t necessarily mean eating the same thing all week. Actually, it’s quite the opposite – you can use batch cooking as a tool to ensure your week is filled with nutritious and varied meals. When you cook ahead, you can make some meals entirely in advance and also prepare various recipe components such as roasted vegetables, quinoa, proteins and sauces. On busier days, you can simply reheat and eat, but when you have a few extra moments, you can assemble your prepared components with a fresh ingredient such as a quick-cooking protein like shrimp. By implementing our tips and tricks, you’ll actually be spending less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your meals. Ready to get started?
YOUR WEEKEND BATCH-COOKING GAME PLAN
- Make Multiuse Roasted Veg (see below).
- Make Pesto Cauliflower Pizza. Note that recipe makes additional pesto for use throughout the week.
- Make Kale & Mushroom Frittata.
- Make One-Pot Mediterranean Lemon Chicken & Rice.
- Make Sautéed Cinnamon Apples & Pears (see below).
- Cook quinoa for use throughout the week (1¼ cups dry; cook according to package directions). Freeze 1 cup cooked quinoa for use later in week; refrigerate remaining.
- Prepare Apple Cinnamon Walnut Pancakes with Almond Butter Spread.
- Make Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette (see below).
Sautéed Cinnamon Apples & Pears
In a skillet on medium, heat 1 tbsp avocado oil. Cook 1 thinly sliced apple and 1 thinly sliced pear with 1 tsp cinnamon until slices are soft. Let cool then refrigerate in an airtight container.
Multiuse Roasted Veg
Preheat oven to 375°F. Over 1 or 2 large baking sheets, spread 1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved (or quartered if large), 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, 2 zucchini, halved then cut into ½-inch chunks, ¼ cup avocado oil, divided, sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste, 4 small beets, peeled and diced, 2 sweet potatoes, diced. Drizzle with 2 tbsp oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Over 1 or 2 separate large baking sheets, place beets and sweet potato and coat with remaining 2 tbsp oil, salt and pepper. Roast all veg for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring halfway, until tender. (NOTE: You may have to work in batches depending on how many sheets you have and the size of your oven. Let cool then transfer to airtight containers. Refrigerate half and freeze other half. Thaw and/or heat when called for.)
Lemon Oregano Vinaigrette
To a jar, add 4 lemons (NOTE: Zest 1 lemon, then juice all 4 lemons), ⅓ cup avocado oil, ¼ tsp dried oregano, ⅛ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper. Cover and shake to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Use our top 10 pro tips to get the most mileage out of your batch-cooking days.
- Plan ahead. Take a few minutes on a Saturday to look at your upcoming week and decide which days will have home-cooked meals and which days you will be dining out or opting for takeout. Once you’ve planned your week, make a detailed shopping list.
- Check your supplies. Always have the basics on hand such as oils, spices, vinegars, canned beans, nuts, seeds and nut butters. If you’re running low, add them to your shopping list.
- Pick theme nights. If you need inspiration, create theme nights such as Taco Tuesday, Waffle Wednesday or Breakfast for Dinner. It can help you easily fill in meals on certain days.
- Cull your storage containers. We recommend using glass containers as they are the safest (no BPA or BPS from plastic), sturdiest and many can go from freezer or fridge to oven.
- Organize your fridge by meal. Try storing breakfast, lunch and dinner foods separately so you can easily search your fridge by meal. For example, each morning, grab one breakfast container, one or two snack containers and one lunch container, and you’re out the door in record time!
- Condiments are your friend. Sauces, dips and dressings add a ton of flavor and personality to any recipe. Make sure to read the ingredients list as you could be taking in a lot of sugar, preservatives, stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors. (Better yet, make your own like we’re doing in this Meal Plan!) Our favorite clean condiments include pesto, hummus, pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole and coconut aminos.
- Time your foods according to their freshness. Fish, salad and berries should be consumed within the first three days of your week, while cooked veggies, grains, poultry and beef can easily make it longer in your fridge or be stored in the freezer, so plan to use them later in the week.
- Mise en place. It’s the prep term meaning “everything in place.” Before you start cooking, get organized by chopping all your vegetables and placing them in separate bowls. Measure out your herbs and spices. Season or marinate your proteins. Cook your grains. This preparation makes cooking and assembling much easier than scrambling to find an ingredient while the stove is on.
- Use prepared foods when short on time. Prechopped vegetables, bagged and washed greens, riced cauliflower, veggie noodles and frozen fruits and vegetables can save you so much time. Plus, frozen produce is as nutritious as fresh since they are picked when ripe and immediately flash frozen to lock in freshness.
- Keep all your recipes in one place. Print out your favorite recipes and keep them in a binder or save them to a Pinterest board (search cleaneatingmag). Or access thousands of CE recipes and build your own meal plans with our new meal-planning app, Clean Eating Meals (available
in the app store).