Batch cooking for beginners

Learn how to batch cook with our easy recipes and kitchen tips. Find advice on what equipment you'll need, how to plan ahead and what meals you can freeze.

Batch cooking mince and tomato base

Whether you’re looking to fill your freezer or simply want to make your midweek meals a little easier, batch cooking is a great technique that can save you time and money. Spending an afternoon in the kitchen might seem like an investment, but we have a few tips and tricks to make the process easy and even enjoyable for first timers.

How to batch cook

Creamy chicken used three ways
One of the simplest ways to approach batch cooking is to make one base recipe which can be adapted into different dishes. There’s no need to eat the same thing all week – you can freeze in portions and enjoy them later. Our family batch cook recipe ideas will show you how to make the following base recipes:

Creamy chicken which can be turned into a chicken and leek pasta bake, a chicken & broccoli potato-topped pie or a creamy chicken & sweetcorn soup.

Tomato & mince which can be used in a ragu pasta sauce, as smoky black bean chilli or in sweet potato-topped cottage pie.

Roast cauliflower & squash which can be enjoyed as a delicious vegan curry, as cauliflower, squash & orzo gratin or as fritters with mint & feta dip.

Plan ahead

Woman making a shopping list
Take a look at the week or month ahead and decide which batch cooking recipes you’d like to prepare. Check your storecupboard essentials, make a shopping list and allow time to gather your ingredients before you start cooking. You might also like to make space in your freezer.

Keep a note of what recipes you’ve chosen, as if they work well together you can repeat your plan to make it even easier next time.

Batch cooking equipment

Two large saucepans in kitchen
You don’t need any special equipment for batch cooking, although some people find that slow cookers and soup makers can be helpful if you’re preparing lots of meals at once. To start with, just check you have the following:

  • Large pans – make sure the recipe you plan to cook will fit into the pans you have available. Read the method before you start, in case you need more than one.
     
  • Sharp knife and cutting board to prepare your ingredients.
     
  • Storage containers – invest in some reuseable plastic or glass containers that are freezer-friendly. You’ll want to freeze your food in portions, so choose containers that are the right size for your family.
     
  • Labels – it’s important to label your food so you can keep track of what’s in your freezer. Label your meals with the recipe, date and number of portions.

Our 5 top tips for batch cooking

1. Prepare your ingredients

Weighing, measuring and chopping your ingredients first will make cooking much easier once you start. Clear your workspace, and allow yourself plenty of time to get organised before you turn on the hob.


2. Clean as you go

If you’re making several recipes at once, tidying as you go will help your kitchen stay under control – no one wants to face a mountain of washing-up at the end!


3. Cool before you freeze

Once your recipes are ready, it’s important to cool them completely before freezing portions. Read our top tips on freezing food for more advice.

Most batch cooking recipes are freezable, there are just a few exceptions to watch out for. It’s best to avoid egg and cream-based sauces, for example, which may separate and curdle. The freezable icon on our recipes will tell you if it can be frozen.

Putting food into tupperware

4. Serve your sides fresh

Generally, you’ll want to make the main component of a meal for batch cooking – like curry, Bolognese or chilli – but leave out the carbs before freezing. Rice and pasta won’t take too long to cook fresh and they’ll taste much better for it!


5. Keep your freezer organised

Once you’ve mastered the art of batch cooking, your freezer will be filled with beautifully homecooked food that you can defrost and reheat whenever you need a quick meal.

The labels will help you keep track of what needs using up next – most will need to be eaten within three months. To avoid meals getting forgotten at the back of the freezer, it can be useful to put your newest portions at the back and in turn bring your older items to the front.

Do you love batch cooking as much as we do? Share your tips in the comments below…

Discover more batch cooking recipes

The best batch cooking recipes for families
Healthy batch cooking recipes
Vegan batch cooking recipes
47 freezable family meals
Our ultimate storecupboard dinners

As many countries urge populations to stay at home, many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health. To help sort out the fact from the fiction, BBC Future is updating some of their most popular nutrition stories from their archive.

 

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