Batch cooking for beginners: 5 ideas for cheaper eating on a budget

Batch cooking has never been more popular but how can beginners master the art of eating on a budget? Read on to find out more

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Batch cooking or cooking in bulk is a great way to save money, and an even better way to save time slaving away at the stove during the week.

According to new research, nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults are taking up the practice with younger cooks leading the way. The survey - conducted by Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) - surveyed 2000 people and found three-quarters (75%) of 18-34-year-olds said they batch cook.

Two-thirds (67%) say batch cooking saves them time whereas nearly half (49%) of the bulk cookers say they do it to save money on their shopping bill. The practice means more for your pocket no matter what your age. Across age groups, the data showed people who batch cook estimate that on average it saves them around £60 per month on food costs.

When it comes to rustling up tasty treats in bulk, spaghetti bolognese and curry were found to be the most popular options. These were followed by casseroles and stews, chilli con carne and soup.

Slightly less popular among those surveyed – but just as tasty – were lasagne, cottage pie, pasta bake and shepherd’s pie. Two-thirds (67%) say it saves them time. Minimising food waste was also a consideration for four in 10 (44%) people.

Planning meals ahead by batch cooking also helps some people to stick to a balanced diet, the survey indicates, with nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents feeling this way. Beef, vegetables and chicken were found by the survey to be the top ingredients people tend to use when batch cooking.

AHDB home economist, Denise Spencer-Walker says: “Many UK households are living off a limited food budget and are looking for ways to save money on their food bill without compromising on quality or flavour.“

Batch cooking is both cost-effective and means you can ensure your diet remains healthy and balanced, even when cooking in advance.” Here are Spencer-Walker’s five top tips for batch cooking success…

Five beginner tips for mastering batch cooking

1. Shop with batch cooking in mind

“When making your shopping list, ensure you’re buying with the view to batch cook,” says Spencer-Walker. “This will ensure you buy enough ingredients to make more than one meal and means you can stretch food out for longer. Aim to make three to four times more than you would normally cook, cool and then freeze in individual portions. Dishes such as bolognese, curries, casseroles, and soups are all perfect batch cooking recipes.”

2. Choose your ingredients wisely

“Ensure your batch-cooked meals are healthy and nutritiously balanced,” says Spencer-Walker. She says lean red meat is a natural source of iron and Vitamin B12, adding: “To make your meals stretch that bit further and boost your fibre intake, why not add some extra veg, beans or pulses to your meat dishes? For example, throw in a can of kidney beans or lentils to your beef bolognese sauce or lasagne, or chickpeas in a curry.”

Ensure your batch-cooked meals are healthy and nutritiously balanced,Ensure your batch-cooked meals are healthy and nutritiously balanced,
Ensure your batch-cooked meals are healthy and nutritiously balanced,

3. Batch cook a variety of meals

If the prospect of eating the same meal day in, day out is putting you off batch cooking, try to mix things up a little. Variety is the spice of life and to ensure you’re getting a good balanced diet, try and mix up your batch cooking,” says Spencer-Walker. You could transform the leftovers from one meal into something else, by making soups, sauces and curries from leftover veggies, for example.

4. Store your food correctly

To retain the freshness of your food, it’s important to store your food safely and in line with the date it should be used by. If you’ve cooked a big batch of food and you’re worried you won’t get through it all over the following couple of days, it could potenially be frozen.

5. Make sure you reheat food properly

“It’s important to ensure you thoroughly reheat your food, be it chilled or defrosted until it’s piping hot throughout,” says Spencer-Walker. “Incorrect reheating can impair eating quality or lead to potential food poisoning.”

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