Looking for ways to prep meals for the family? Batch cooking saves time in the kitchen, reduces food waste and helps you plan ahead. It’s also a great way to help friends and neighbours in need who might be unable to cook for themselves or just need a little pick-me-up. Here you can find our top tips for making batch cooking easy so you’re never left scratching your head wondering what you’ll serve tonight.
Our top picks for storing meals
1. Pick family favourites
Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes batch cooking, make simple dishes you know the whole household will enjoy instead as this ensures whatever you pick out of the freezer will be a hit with everyone. If you’ve got a fussy eater in the family, batch cooking is a blessing as you can prepare their favourite meals several days in advance and you’ll never run out of something to serve.
2. Use a base sauce
Pick dishes that can be made with the same starter sauce and life will become much easier. You can freeze your sauce in small portions ready to defrost as and when you need it, and don’t forget that one sauce can be used for a huge variety of dishes. A basic tomato sauce is great for lasagne, chilli, bolognese, cassoulet, curry or even tomato soup whilst white sauce can be flavoured with veggies, herbs, cheese or even white wine for mac ‘n’ cheese, vegetable bakes, fish pie and coq au vin blanc… the list is endless!
3. Keep portions in proportion
For savoury dishes you can multiply recipe quantities easily, but watch your spices and seasoning to prevent overpowering the flavour of your ingredients. Remember, you can’t remove seasoning but you can add it in gradually! Taste your food regularly, season only when it needs it and don’t fall into the trap of freezing huge portions as it will take forever to defrost! As a rule of thumb a good portion of stew, chilli or soup will be 250-350ml so for a family of 4 you’d need around a litre of food per batch. For pasta sauces 100-150ml is about right so a 600ml container will hold enough sauce for each meal.
4. Use large saucepans
It goes without saying that a batch cooked meal will start as a large dish so don’t get caught short without a big enough pan. Look for the litre measurements on saucepans, stockpots and casseroles to give you the most accurate idea if the pan is big enough. For a family of 4 you’ll need cookware that holds at least 2 litres to make more than one meal. For a slow cooked meal this 6.2L casserole dish can be popped in the oven for hours and holds enough food to make up to 6 family meals.
5. Keep your cool
Allow cooked food to completely cool before freezing or refrigerating to prevent the growth of bacteria. Once cool, pop on your airtight lid and freeze immediately. Cooling racks are a good way to speed up the cooling process as they allow cold air to circulate under the dish.
6. Pick the right containers
Batch cooking containers need to be freezer safe and airtight so keep an eye out for these features when picking your container. Several containers of the same size maximise space in your freezer and our airtight glass ovenware dishes are a practical choice for going from oven to fridge to freezer to microwave. For smaller quantities these 600ml square storage containers are perfect for stacking sauce portions in the freezer.
7. Date those dishes
Whilst freezing prolongs the life of food it doesn’t last forever so it’s important to date your food to ensure it’s eaten in plenty of time. Once frozen many dishes look the same, is that one frozen chilli or bolognese? Labelling your dishes prevents any nasty shocks when you think you’re making a Friday night curry only to find it’s your picky teenager’s pasta sauce!