Learn how to save money efficiently with batch cooking meals. Master the budget-friendly hack for delicious savings!
Over the last year, life has changed a bit as my husband and I became empty nesters. Our home, once filled with the bustling energy of children, suddenly felt quieter and, well, emptier.
With our kids off on their own adventures, we found ourselves faced with a new reality. How do you cook for two after cooking for what seems like an army for so many years?
Among the adjustments that come with this new phase of life, one change we embraced wholeheartedly was how we approached mealtime and our budget.
In the beginning of our transition to empty nesters, we would cook less times a week and eat more leftovers, but the reality is we like to switch things up with our meals each night. Which makes the struggle real.
After months of trial and error, we discovered the world of batch cooking and it’s been a game-changer for us looking to save money without sacrificing enjoying home cooked meals that fit our lifestyle.
What is Batch Cooking?
Batch cooking is a meal prep technique where you cook larger quantities of food at once, which you can then portion and store for later use or enjoy throughout the week. It not only saves time but also minimizes the amount of food waste and, most importantly, helps you save money.
Here’s how batch cooking works:
Plan Your Meals: Start by planning a menu for the week, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Consider recipes that freeze well and can be reheated without losing their flavor or texture. Also keep in mind different ways you can serve meals differently throughout the week using less ingredients.
- Grilled or baked chicken can be used in salads, quesadillas, or served with a side of roasted vegetables.
- Roast can be used in tacos, served with cauliflower rice, or made into a roast beef sandwich for lunch.
- Hamburger meat can be used for many different recipes including tacos or a taco salad, stuffed peppers, or even a casserole.
Shop Smart: Make a shopping list based on your meal plan. Stick to it to avoid impulse purchases. Look for sales and discounts on ingredients you need.
Cook in Batches: Set aside a day or even just a few hours for batch cooking. Share the responsibility with your partner, spouse or significant other. Have one person cook the protein with a slow cooker, instant pot, or traditional stovetop, oven, or grill. While the protein is cooking, the other person can be in charge of dicing vegetables, preparing the salad, and working on side dishes that can be prepped ahead of time.
Store Cooked Food: Once your meals are cooked or prepped, be sure to allow the protein to cool completely and place them in individual containers and store them in the refrigerator.
Reheat and Enjoy: Each day of the week, make your meals based on what is on the meal plan and enjoy a home-cooked, cost-effective meal.
Benefits of Batch Cooking Meals
Savings on Groceries: Buy only the ingredients you need for the meal plan you create each week. When you plan your meals and avoid unnecessary purchases, you’ll see a significant reduction in your monthly grocery bills.
Reduced Food Waste: Batch cooking allows you to use ingredients more efficiently, reducing the chances of food spoilage. You’ll also have fewer leftovers that end up going to waste.
Healthier Eating: By controlling your portions and preparing your own meals, you can make healthier choices, avoid overly processed foods, and reduce your reliance on takeout and fast food.
More Free Time: Batch cooking saves time in the long run. You can spend more time doing things you love rather than spending hours in the kitchen each night.
Stress Reduction: Having pre-prepared meals readily available eliminates the stress of daily meal planning and cooking, making your evenings more relaxed and enjoyable.
While the transition to an empty nest has brought in a new era of possibilities, including how we approach meal planning and budgeting. Batch cooking emerged as a cost-effective solution that allowed us to enjoy delicious homemade meals while saving both time and money. By planning our meals, shopping wisely, and preparing in batches, we not only reduced our grocery expenses but also embraced a healthier lifestyle (even though we were already eating healthy before).
If you find yourself in the shoes of an empty nester, contemplating ways to make the most of this exciting chapter, I wholeheartedly recommend giving batch cooking a try. Your wallet and your taste buds will undoubtedly appreciate the journey ahead!
Be sure to pin these tips for later!