“Batch cooking”, the popular method for preparing meals in advance

Room to store

To be able to store all these preparations in the refrigerator or freezer, start by making as much space as possible. Throw away anything that has been wasting away for too long, and plan a few fridge or freezer meals.

When do I do this?

It's up to everyone to choose the time that suits them best in terms of availability and supply. The ideal is to schedule batch cooking immediately after shopping, to use fresh ingredients. For most people this is Saturday or Sunday, but for others it will be their day off during the week, or in the evening.

Concretely, what am I preparing?

Basic elements, cooked in a simple and neutral way, and small additions with more flavor to accompany, season, spice up.
A cereal (rice, quinoa, millet, etc.) and a legume (lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, etc.) to serve hot as a side dish or cold in a salad, separately or together.
A few steamed or oven-roasted vegetables, to eat as a side dish or in a mixed bowl.
Some raw vegetables and herbs, washed, possibly peeled and cut up, ready to be eaten (salad, chopped cabbage, herbs, red onions, raw vegetables in sticks, etc.).
Hard-boiled eggs, to put in a sandwich or salad.
A roasted or poached free-range chicken, the meat of which can be served in various ways, hot or cold. As a bonus, enough to make a broth!
Nuts that are roasted in the oven (walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds), to keep in a jar and sprinkle everywhere.
A nourishing spread (mackerel or sardine rillettes, hummus, eggplant caviar) to serve with raw vegetables sticks or bread, or to add to a mixed bowl.
A little sauce or condiment (pesto, vinaigrette, tahini sauce, bo-bun sauce, express pickled vegetables) to season just about everything.

And then, what do we eat?

By composing with these basic elements, adding spices and condiments, and possibly a simple cooking step, you can imagine all kinds of meals: meat or fish with the side dish already ready, a large filling salad, sandwiches in baguettes or pita, pancakes or meatballs, tacos, a pan of vegetables and cereals like fried rice, pasta, a garnished broth, etc.

Other meats and fish

For these more fragile, and also more expensive, foods, it is better to cook them day by day. Except for slow-cooked dishes for which it is good to think big.

Containers and conservation

The different preparations are stored in airtight containers, preferably glass. The washed salad and herbs will be wrapped in a clean cloth. In an efficient refrigerator (which maintains a temperature around 4°C), the food offered here will keep for around 3 days. If you do your batch cooking on Sunday afternoon, you are ready until Wednesday evening. We put the extra portions in the freezer on Sunday, to bring them out at the end of the week… or the week after, which allows for better mixing.

Wow, but it’s all work!

The few hours you dedicate to this method on the day of batch cooking will pay off a hundredfold the following evenings, not to mention the peace of mind of knowing that you have good things on hand and ready to eat. And it's not all or nothing: you can get started slowly, by first preparing just two or three elements. You will quickly notice that it becomes easier with practice, when you have got your bearings and have built up a small repertoire of preparations and recipes.

Double word count

Even apart from this well-organized weekly practice, I can only recommend that you systematically cook double (or even triple) whatever is suitable for it: a vegetable curry, a simmered meat, a soup, a tomato sauce, a pie dough, crumble dough, etc. Freeze the excess (in small or medium portions, with date and description) and you'll treat yourself to a hassle-free meal in a week or month.

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