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Cooking can be fun. Preparing a delicious healthy meal for your partner, family or even just yourself is one of life’s great pleasures. But it can also be a time-consuming chore (just ask any parent).
Batch cooking and storing your leftovers is an efficient way to save both your time in the kitchen and money. With a little planning, you can serve family favourites all through the week.
Now more than ever, the need to minimise food waste and store our leftovers is vital. We’ve put together a few tips to help you maximise your batch cooking and make sure your leftovers are just as delicious defrosted as they were the day you cooked them.
Batch cooking is essentially eating leftovers. You just need to cook more of what you’re having today and freeze it for another day. If you’re cooking for yourself, cook for four. If you’re cooking for a family cook for eight, that should be enough.
Batch cooking is time-consuming and requires an investment, both in terms of time and money, so you need to be sure that what you’re cooking is going to get eaten. Start by making a list of your family’s favourite foods; the things they always wolf straight down with no fuss.
You’re going to need to plan out your cooking times as well. Chopping a lot of veg and getting the meat is going to take time. Decide what to start first, and make a schedule of what needs to start cooking and when.
Batch cooking can be time-consuming (and you might even get a bit lonely). It can be a good idea to recruit some help and maybe get the kids involved. If it is too difficult, you could try cooking something else with them and check out our page for how to get kids interested in the kitchen.
When you’re cooking to store in the freezer, it’s a good idea to slightly underdo your food.
That way when you heat it up, it won’t burn before it’s ready to eat.
Good ideas for batch cooking are dishes that require a lot of time but don’t lose their flavour when you come to defrost them. A great example is lasagne, or if you’re trying to cut down on your meat intake, you could always try our vegetarian lasagne.
First and foremost, you’ll need something to store your leftovers in. Most Tupperware is fine to put in the freezer, but not all, so double-check. You can also use plastic freezer bags, though if you’re trying to cut down on plastic waste, they aren’t the best choice.
Surprisingly, although it’s the easiest way to reheat leftovers, you don’t need a microwave if you’re planning on batch cooking. Our grandparents managed well enough without them! But some foods are easier to reheat than others.
If you’re keeping your leftovers in the fridge, you should eat them within two days. Food stored in the freezer will keep, but the longer you leave it the more the flavour will deteriorate. You should aim to eat your frozen batch cooking within three to six months.
The safest way to defrost food is to move it from the freezer to the fridge well in advance. This will obviously take longer, but it will stop the build-up of bacteria.
When heating up your frozen food, you should make sure it is piping hot throughout. So try to ensure it reaches a temperature of 70C for two minutes. You should only reheat your food once, any more than that and you run a higher risk of food poisoning.
You can reuse bags for freezing food but just make sure that you use the same bag for raw meats to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
How you store your food depends on what exactly you are cooking but here are a few useful tips for whatever you're freezing.