Batch Cooking

Make the Most of Your Time With These Batch Cooking Tips

Making the most of the time you spend in the kitchen is one of the best ways to get a handle on mealtime. A stash of frozen rice or meatballs, a container of grilled organic asparagus or steamed broccoli, and a selection of tasty Simply Organic Simmer Sauces are like money in the bank when it comes to pulling together a quick, healthy, organic meal on the fly. 

What is batch cooking? It’s a strategy for streamlining weeknight meals that involves pre-cooking simple components to be assembled into meals later on. Generally these items are minimally seasoned so their potential for mixing and matching is virtually unlimited.

Cooking with the food you’ve prepared in advance allows you to devote more bandwidth to getting creative with flavors and spices and less on cooking and cleanup. Make a double or triple batch of organic basmati rice for tonight’s Cauliflower Korma, and whatever you don’t eat can be refrigerated for a handful of days or frozen even longer to build out next week’s Korean Barbecue Rice Bowl. Throw some extra chicken thighs on the sheet pan when you’re making dinner and shred the leftovers to be tossed with Classic Fajita Simmer Sauce or Southwest Taco simmer sauce a day or two later. That’s batch cooking in a nutshell. 

 

Amortize Your Kitchen Time

Batch cooking is a natural for simple basics like grains, but its potential doesn’t end there. Keep it in mind when you are tackling more labor-intensive projects like making meatballs, stocks, or sauces. It rarely requires twice as much hands-on time to make a double or triple yield. And think of all the shopping, mixing, and cleaning up you will be able to skip when you serve that extra batch for a future meal. 

 

What Batches Well?

Nearly everything you cook can be doubled or tripled in quantity, packaged, and stored to speed up your weeknight dinners and even lunch prep. If it holds up well in the refrigerator or freezer, it’s a perfect choice for batch cooking. Combine these ready-to-go ingredients with your favorite Simply Organic Simmer Sauces, seasoning blends, and spices, and dinner practically makes itself.

 

Storage

For maximum convenience, store your batch-cooked items in 1 or 2-cup quantities so you won’t need to defrost more than you can use at one time. Look for glass, silicon, or sturdy BPA-free plastic airtight containers that can be washed and reused repeatedly. Always allow hot foods to cool before transferring them to the refrigerator or freezer, and be sure to label everything with the item, date, and quantity before it goes in the fridge or freezer. You’ll be surprised how tricky it can be to identify many items once they are frozen solid.

 

Here are some of the top items to batch cook, along with the best cooking and storage methods for each.

 

Grains and Legumes

From rice to farro to barley or millet, just about any grain can be batch cooked and used for grain bowls, stews, and stir-fries. Prepare them using whatever method you usually opt for, whether that’s on the stovetop, with a rice cooker, or in a multicooker such as an Instant Pot. Leave the cooked grains unseasoned so you have the flexibility to season them as you like at future meals. 

Beans and lentils are also great choices for batch cooking and can be used as a base for meatless soups and stews or as a hearty addition to a grain bowl or salad. And unlike canned beans, beans cooked from dried will yield a delicious cooking liquid that can be the source of a soupy side dish with the addition of wilted greens or a bit of meat or sausage.

Grain

Cooking Method

Fridge

Freezer

Brown rice (any variety)

Cook in 2x volume of water for 40 minutes or until tender. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes, then spread on a baking sheet to cool.

1 week

6 months

White rice (any variety

Cook in 2x volume of water for 18 minutes or until tender. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes, then spread on a baking sheet to cool.

1 week

6 months

Quinoa, amaranth,

couscous

Cook in 2x volume of water for 6 minutes, then let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Drain any remaining water, then spread on a baking sheet to cool.

5 days

2 months

Farro, freekeh, wheat berries

Boil in water to cover by 1 inch until tender, 30-50 minutes. Drain, then spread on a baking sheet to cool.

5 days

6 months 

Dried beans (presoaked) and lentils

Soak overnight in water to cover by 2 inches. Drain, cover with fresh water, then simmer 40-60 minutes until tender. Cool, then store in their cooking liquid.

5 days

6 months

 

 

Proteins  

Cooked poultry, beef, and pork all keep well in the refrigerator for a few days and in the freezer for a few months. That means it’s a great idea to buy and cook a whole chicken or family pack of thighs; a beef pot roast, or a pork shoulder—all of which are typically more cost-effective than smaller cuts of meat and can yield multiple meals. For all of these proteins, cook them as you like, using the oven, stovetop, slow cooker, or an Instant Pot. 

Protein

Cooking Method

Fridge

Freezer

Chicken breasts and thighs

Bake, grill, poach, or pan-sear 

3 days

4 months

Chicken, whole 

Roast or poach, cool, and shred meat in large chunks

3 days

3 months

Ground meat (including beef, turkey, or chicken)

Brown and cook through; drain

3 days

3 months

Braises, shredded or pulled meat (including pork and beef)

Slow cook, braise, or stew; store in cooking liquid

3 days

3 months 

Salmon

Bake, grill, poach, or pan-sear

3 days

2 months

Shrimp

Bake, grill, poach, or pan-sear

3 days

3 months

 

 

Produce

Batch cooking produce is not only a great way to ensure your family eats more vegetables and fruit, it’s a smart way to use extras before they go bad. If you’re refrigerating them, vegetables can be steamed, roasted, or sautéed. To freeze, blanching vegetables briefly in boiling water and shocking them in ice water is the best cooking method for most varieties. They then can be roasted or sautéed briefly alone or with other ingredients straight from the freezer.

Produce

Cooking Method

Fridge

Freezer

Broccoli and cauliflower

If refrigerating: Cut into florets and steam, roast, or sauté

If freezing: Cut into florets and blanch

1 week

3 months

Asparagus

If refrigerating: Trim and steam, roast, sauté

If freezing: Trim and blanch

1 week

3 months

Peas

If refrigerating: Shuck and steam or boil

If freezing: Shuck and blanch

1 week

3 months

Corn

If refrigerating: Slice kernel off the cob and sauté or boil

If freezing: Slice kernel off the cob and blanch

1 week

3 months

Zucchini and summer squash

If refrigerating: Slice or cut in chunks and roast, grill, or sauté

If freezing: Slice or cut in chunks and blanch

1 week

3 months

Bell peppers

If refrigerating: Slice or cut in chunks and roast, grill, sauté

If freezing: Slice or cut in chunks and blanch

1 week

3 months

Dark leafy greens (including spinach, kale, and Swiss chard)

If refrigerating: Remove stems and coarsely chop, if necessary, then sauté, steam, or braise

If freezing: Remove stems and coarsely chop, if necessary, then blanch

1 week

3 months

Green beans

If refrigerating: Trim and sauté, steam, or boil

If freezing: Trim and blanch

1 week

3 months

Winter squash

If refrigerating: Peel, if necessary, cut into wedges or chunks, then roast, bake, sauté, steam, boil and then mash or puree

If freezing: Peel, cut into chunks, then boil and then mash or puree

1 week

3 months

Potatoes (including white and sweet)

If refrigerating: Peel, if necessary, cut into wedges or chunks, then roast, bake, sauté, boil and then mash or puree 


If freezing: Peel, cut into chunks, then boil and mash or puree

5 days

10 months

 

 

Other

These are a few other items that are great candidates for batch cooking. Like the grains and beans, measure the quantity of what you batch cooked before freezing so you know how much you have. Then, freeze in small quantities and defrost only what you need.

Item

 

Fridge

Freezer

Tomato sauce

 

4 days

6 months

Broth or stock (including chicken, beef, and vegetable)

 

4 days

6 months

Chili and soups

 

4 days

6 months 

Vinegar-based salad dressing

 

2 weeks

N/A

Hard-boiled eggs

 

1 week

N/A

Bring Robust Organic Flavor to Your Everyday Meals