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Tuesday
Nov292011

Try-It Tuesday: Batch Cooking

Written by Paul Kriegler, RD/LD, CISSN and Keri Anderson, CPT, RKC of Life Time Fitness

For this Try-it Tuesday, give batch cooking a try!  Not only can cooking in batches make your food choices healthier and give you more control, but it can also streamline the time you spend in the kitchen each week! 

Time is a limiting factor for many of us trying to manage weight or maintain our health, but we all have the same 24 hours available every day.  Why do some people have an easier time making healthy food choices

When we run short on time, the first thing to suffer is often our own food preparation and other healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Perhaps the vast number of fast food and quick dining options available lead us to eat outside of our homes more often than we’d like.  Just as common: we just don’t feel very comfortable in the kitchen.  Maybe we cut our time at home short to stay at the gym and burn an extra 200 calories.  In any case, trying out batch cooking can surely improve the quality of your meals!

To me, batch cooking means I only get the kitchen dirty once or twice a week (I hate doing dishes).  Cooking several meals at once means I spend less time on a daily basis slaving over food prep – or a total of about 90 minutes per week.  Sundays and Wednesdays are my typical grocery shopping & cooking days; I pick up the proteins, veggies, fats, and seasonings for the next few days worth of recipes.  Below are a few staple recipes to get you started (I will often cook both recipes at the same time).  Feel free to share your own batch cooking meals below in the comments section! 

Chicken Cashew Stir-fry

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Natural, boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1” x ½ “strips
  • 1Tbsp Coconut oil
  • ½ Tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ cup San-J Gluten free, reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1Tbsp ginger powder
  • ½ Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2-3 bell peppers, sliced into 1” strips
  • 1lb bag of fresh broccoli florets (already chopped saves time)
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into ¼” half moons
  • 3 stalks celery cut into ½“pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces ¼“thick
  • 1 – six ounce can sliced water chestnuts
  • 3/4c dry roasted, lightly salted cashews (Trader Joe’s roasts some of the best!)

Cooking Instructions

After cutting chicken into bite-sized pieces, combine with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl to marinate while you chop the rest of the vegetables with a clean knife and cutting board.  Once you have all ingredients ready (a method called mis en place in French cuisine, meaning “everything in place”), you’re ready to start cooking!  In a large wok over medium-high heat on the stove, melt the coconut oil.  Once melted, add the chicken, and stir every minute while it cooks for about 5-7 minutes.  After chicken cooks most of the way through, add the vegetables, starting with broccoli & onion as they take longest to cook.  Keep stirring to mix all the flavors and to allow for even cooking.  The vegetables should only take about 5-7 minutes to cook until bright and crunchy.  Sprinkle in the cashews and give your dish one final stir before plating and dividing into microwave-safe glass storage containers (like Pyrex).  This should yield about 4-6 liberal servings.

Chicken sausage & Veggie Egg Bake

Ingredients

  • 12-14 eggs (Pasture raised or free-range preferred)
  • 2 Tbsp Organic Butter
  • 5-6 lean chicken sausages, diced (Casual Gourmet or Amylu’s makes some natural varieties found at Costco)
  • 3 Bell peppers, diced small
  • One medium onion, diced small
  • 16oz bag pre-cut broccoli florets (saves time)
  • Sea Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3-4 oz shredded cheese, any variety of natural cheese

Cooking Instructions

Wash & chop all vegetables and stow in a large mixing bowl.  Combine chicken sausage with butter in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes before adding diced onions to cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to skillet and let cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. While veggies and sausage continue to cook, preheat the oven to 350-360 degrees Fahrenheit.  Crack 12 into large mixing bowl and whisk with a few tablespoons of water and salt and pepper if preferred.  Turn stovetop off, remove skillet from heat and stir in eggs to combine all ingredients.  Sprinkle cheese over top and put the entire pan of goodness into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Carefully remove pan from oven and let cool before dividing into 6 portions.  Use these portions for quick breakfasts full of protein and fiber to rev up your metabolism and get you energized even if you’re rushed in the morning!

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Reader Comments (2)

Where can I find more batch cooking recipes? This is a GREAT idea, I just discovered I may have a Gluten allergy/intolerence and I am struggling to eat enough food during the day to sustain any kind of workout etc

Paula N

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaula Jane Nicholson

I have been practicing batch cooking since I moved out from home 25 years ago. My parents have always practiced this as well since both parents worked many hours. Nutrition and eating at home was always important to them, and now to me. I have an 8 year old child and let me share what I batch cook:
1) stock---20 containers of chicken, 20 of beef, 5 of fish. I cook with very little salt, and am in full control of all the natural ingredients I put in.
I use the stock for soups during the weekdays to make in my Vitamix blender or as a soup alone with fine egg noodles. All the containers are labelled with dates & type in the deep freezer.

2) turkey---I just roasted 6 turkeys, and vacuum packed each day's portion for the future. I can find grass fed turkeys at a lower price during Thanksgiving. I must say it has been a very busy 4-5 days with baking turkeys everyday (we would eat other food to not be too full of turkey). I would save the vacuum packed turkey portions for soups, lunches, etc in the future.

3) crockpot soups----I cooked a soup in a crockpot with anything I could find: fresh romano beans, red pepper, onion, carrots, yellow beets, parsley, and seasonings (this time I cheated and used a package of Knorr soup seasonings for sodium for flavor. I decided it was ok since my foods are usually too healthy tasting as my family comments) I would serve the soup and then store the rest in the canning jars in the fridge. This can be eaten during the week. Since the soups have seasonings, the entire family will be happy to have it for lunch at school and work as well.

4) green smoothies in the morning----I use my Vitamix blender and make a big batch of green vegetable smoothie for us all. I make enough for two days and store the remaining in jars in the fridge.

5) canning tomato and vegetable sauce----I buy about 4 bushels of tomatoes and can myself. I didn't think I could do this since I don't own the traditional canning equipment. I improvised, and made 72 litres in canning jars of organic and local vegetables with almost no salt. I will use this in the future for spaghetti or sauce on top of rice as a risotto almost.

Our family is on the go all the time. I bring cooked food in the car, and let my child eat in the car on a bed tray. I make certain we eat one soup each day, with the rest of the evening with another meal or two composed of some other batch or fresh whip-ups.

In conclusion, I have these essential items in our home: a deep freezer, empty yogurt containers for freezing, vacuum sealer machine for portion packing when I batch cook, a Vitamix blender (for my soups and green smoothies), canning jars for the few leftover soups.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy R

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