Almila Kakinc—public health non-profit writer, blogger and health nut—is here to share her perspective on living a more balanced lifestyle, one batched meal at a time! Read on for her tips on adopting the practice in your own routine.
Coming home from work after a long day, many hear the calling of their bed more than the growling of their stomach. Often, it can seem too grueling of a task to cook a meal. I work until 7:00 p.m. and my commute back home takes an hour. Once I’m home, I want to be able to unwind at the dinner table and not think about what meal to make. So, I have become a whiz at structuring my time and grocery shopping routine to allow for making efficient meals that are readily available for me during work days. As much as I value food that’s consumed the day it is prepared, batch cooking still maintains the integrity of the food and our minds. Here’s to sane weeks and full tummies!
To begin your batch cooking, you must first make a list of necessary ingredients. I go for staples that can be thrown together into simple meals because I don’t have much time—like many others—to peruse Pinterest or cookbooks for recipes (although there is Huckle & Goose to make this part of batch cooking easier with their meal planning guide).
Make a grocery list of your essential pantry items, fresh non-starchy and starchy vegetables, fats, fruits and proteins. Try to make this a delightful experience by sourcing food from the local farmers market as often as possible. We rush during our work days, so it’s important to make cooking for and nourishing ourselves a time to reconnect.
I set aside approximately two hours during the weekend—usually Sunday afternoon or evening—to cook for the week.
Proteins: I start with protein, as it takes the longest to prepare. Pick your protein of choice. Some easy ideas are hard-boiled eggs, grilled or oven-roasted poultry, beef or lamb. Sustainability is essential for me, so I make sure to source these animal proteins from local farmers that raise them on pastures feeding on grass, without fillers or chemicals. Vegetarian options can include nuts and seeds, which don’t require any preparation and provide texture to simple salads.
Fats: Your animal protein options will already have fat, but it’s important to use additional healthy fats such as coconut oil or grass-fed ghee when preparing vegetables to not only increase flavor but also brain function. Our brains are composed of more than 60 percent fat, so they need fats to fuel us throughout the day. Other ways to include fats can be chia seeds in a chia pudding during breakfast, avocados in salads or coconut milk in smoothies. Here are some of my favorite smoothies: Glowing Greens, Golden Milk and White Mulberry Vanilla.
Vegetables: Which vegetables to batch cook depends on what you have on-hand. If I’m making a salad, I massage slightly-steamed kale with olive oil once it has cooled down. This will last up to three days in the fridge and provides for an easy salad to throw together with some protein. Otherwise, I use fresh leafy greens for salads during the week without any preparation necessary.
For sides, steamed and roasted vegetables stay fresh for up to a week. I love steaming cauliflower then making it into a garlicky mash. I also enjoy roasting root vegetables with carrots and turnips or simply sautéing vegetables. This is a great time to repurpose parts of vegetables normally thrown away—sauté beet or turnip greens in coconut oil and sea salt for an easy side dish. Also, I make sweet potatoes to have as a healthy source of carbohydrates for energy and blood sugar regulation.
Store these either in individual glass containers designated for each meal or fill up your container in the morning for whatever you feel like eating for lunch that day!
Words and photography by Almila Kakinc