Meal planning in and of itself is sometimes done in vain if that is the ONLY plan. Batchcooking is the way to truly save time, money and your sanity. If you aren’t doing it, you need to! Here is my 5 STEP process for batchcooking that will get you on the right track to not only planning your meals, but getting your family to eat the food you make, for you to cook, clean, waste and spend less!
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS to be successful with the “Batchcooking” method:
- MENU: You thought you needed a meal plan, but you really need a family menu! Keep your meal planning and prepping simple by having a family menu. You cannot have to be a multitude of restaurants in your own home. When you go to a restaurant, it will have a menu. They do this to keep costs low and to make their service more efficient. Create a family menu for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and snacks. This is NOT your meal plan. It is just a representation of the foods and meals you are capable of preparing and that your family loves. I suggest starting with making meals you know you and your family love.
- INVENTORY: It is critical to do an inventory of what you have before you buy! This avoids food and money wasted. Before you go out to shop, heck, before you even make a LIST or a PLAN, ALWAYS check what is in your fridge, freezer, and pantry FIRST! Strive to use everything up that is already on hand. Move things from the bottom of the freezer to the top and from the back of the pantry to the front. Make a soup, stew or casserole with ingredients left over in your fridge. Strive for zero food waste and make sure that you are using what’s on hand in your plan.
- PLAN: Now you are ready to meal plan!Now that you know what have on hand, begin to think of meals you can create with what is in your fridge, pantry and freezer. Refer back to the menu to see if you can create meals that your family loves with what is already in your house. This will save a ton of money. For ease, I recommend incorporating leftovers into your meal plan and striving to cook at least a double batch of food that can serve for two nights or more. For dinners each month, I always recommend making a list of 12-15 recipes (these can change depending on seasonal ingredients or times of year) that you and your family will NEVER get tired of eating. Have them brainstorm the meals with you! Begin to think of meals you can batch cook and buy double of the ingredients for that one meal so you can cook/prep once and eat twice. Writing out my plan for the month allows me to plan be prepared for more than just this week and allows for flexibility within the month to change things up if we so chose.
- SHOP: Decision have to be made on not only what to buy but how much you are allocating and budgeting towards groceries for the week or month. Decide on what you will spend this month on “groceries”. For “buy in” get the family involved! Be real with yourself about what you spend each week or month on “groceries”. Once you know what is on hand it is important to make a plan for what you will buy. Create a list by category of the area of the supermarket or by meals to keep you on track. Shop the sales, get only what you need an stock up on any good deals that are within your budget. It is great to be flexible with ingredients as certain food items go on sale and are “in season”. Once you know what meals you love and want to make, create a list of ingredients you will need to buy for the week of meals or an entire month of meals. We love to do one big monthly grocery haul in the beginning of the month and then “quick and fresh” grocery hauls (buying the freshest and least expensive items) the subsequent weeks after that. This allows us to take advantage of items on sale, seasonal produce and stock up items. Be sure to allocate money for each week out of the total monthly budget and use cash if you can.
- PREP: Don’t just stop with meal planning and food shopping! Be intentional with actually preparing and cooking the food you just planned for and purchased. Set aside a day or a few days a week where you commit to cooking a batch of food. We eat what we love and we cook less and always have delicious food to eat. This prevents us from eating out and spending money at the last minute on food that you do not have prepared. Leftovers are the key to this lifestyle. Cooking extra portions and eating leftovers is an amazing way to eat an affordable and healthy low carb meal for dinner or lunch. Cooking many meals on one day in a huge meal prep session is also another way to make your life easier and save money. Eating out can be expensive–especially eating out and getting “healthy” options. Cooking at home with real food will save you TONS of money. You will be healthier, know what is actually in your food, always have food on hand, and save a lot of money in the process.Eating up the food you ACTUALLY cook is the biggest way to avoid wasting money and ultimately will save you the most money! Striving for zero waste with food brought into your home should be a goal from the beginning of this process. Strive to use leftovers, repurpose ingredients into new meals (tons of ideas online), and be resourceful with random items. Remember that cooking simple meals that are balanced but don’t require expensive ingredients is key. Eating more fat, drinking mostly water, avoiding temptation, bringing your lunch everyday, avoiding snacking “just because”, not eating when you aren’t hungry and eating simple meals will be the key to you saving money in this area. Nourish yourself and move on. Through practice and commitment, you can learn to find contentment in this simple and intentional way of nourishing your body. This method can save you thousands of dollars and once you are used to it, the benefits are many.