The Quicker Winter Kitchen – Hot, Healthy Meals, Fast

woman in kitchenOne big reason many people are derailed from weight loss and fitness goals involves eating right… eating the right amount of the right foods at the right times takes work.

Plus, it takes time, and a bit of skill, too. Since eating well requires fresh ingredients and cooking meals, it can be tough in a busy winter life. Batch cooking to the rescue—fast!

What is Batch or Bulk Cooking?

Batch cooking is making most or all your meals and snacks for a week on just one day. In other words, you’ll be prepping and cooking ahead of time, and storing your food in the fridge or pantry to eat throughout the week. Batch cooking doesn’t require freezing…but it does require planning and shopping for all you’ll need for a full week of meals.

Bulk cooking involves making double or triple batches of meals to separate and store in the freezer as ready-to-heat meals for the future. Bulk cooking can be done as a reoccurring cycle one day a week to cook a few large meal batches. Or it can be done on a day by day basis—when you’re making a meal, make two or three batches.

Whatever approach you take, it means for many of your meals each week, you’ll have healthy homemade food you love ready to eat when you need it, instead of rushing home after work to start dinner or running out at lunch to grab prepared food. It’s a new way to get good, “fast” food. It’s a quicker kitchen.

Benefits of a Quicker Kitchen
  • Saves time—your utensils and pans are already out, you’re chopping onions and peeling carrots all at once, and if you’re bulk cooking it really takes very little time to multiply the recipe and freeze it for another meal
  • Keeps you on track with your goals—if you’re making healthy eating a lifestyle (as you should be), getting into the batch cooking habit helps you select your meals, portions, macronutrient ratios and so on, thoughtfully
  • Keeps your eating style consistent—whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle, eat clean, or something else, batch cooking helps you avoid last-minute decisions to eat foods that aren’t ideal for your goals
  • Relieves stress—much less thought needs to be given each day to what’s for breakfast as the kids get ready for school or what’s for dinner based on what I have in the house…and when you’re tired, making the meal is already done
  • Can save money, too—when things are on sales, especially pricier items like meat, it’s cost-effective to buy more than a meal’s worth and fun to find ways to use it. One huge roast can equal so many different beefy meals.

Tips to Get Started
  • Shop in season. Look for recipes that highlight what is plentiful, and affordable, in the store. Winter can mean squash and citrus in bulk. What meals can incorporate it?
  • Shop in bulk sizes. Buying larger packages, especially of meat, is a real money saver and perfect for bulk or batch cooking. Ground sirloin nets tacos, burgers, meatballs, etc.
  • Cook in quantity. If you’re grilling chicken tonight, it’s the perfect opportunity to grill three times as much as you need. If the oven will be on for pork roast, make it a big one.
  • Cook the basics. Once you have grilled chicken, you could be looking at wraps for one meal, a salad for lunch, and a grilled chicken frittata this weekend. Basics become treats.
  • Start small. Try bulking up just one meal this week. Think veggie lasagna or a big pot of stew. Freeze the extras and label them. Or batch for just one of the meals all week—say breakfast. You can premake hardboiled eggs, steel cut oats, clean berries, etc.

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