6 Simple Secrets to Batch Cooking

Red potatoes getting ready for roasting!

The definition of batch cooking is…preparing and cooking a whole bunch of awesome food all at once so you have many options ready and waiting for quick, go-to meals, at any time of the day or night. OK, OK, that’s not like a Webster’s dictionary definition or anything, but rather the Vegan It Real version.

When I became a plant-based eater, batch cooking became my friend. And, when I took Rouxbe’s plant-based culinary course and realized there was a whole unit focused just on batch cooking, I knew that for plant-based success, batch cooking was a must. For those vegans out there, I am pretty sure you have heard of batch cooking, but, for you vegan-curious folks you may not understand the importance behind this much talked about meal prep.

You see, when you transition to a plant-based way of life, it can be super-easy to fall back on old eating habits at the first sign of a challenge. Think about it. You are too tired to cook and you’re hangry. You have to take the kids to soccer. Your dear love invited his friends for dinner, or worse, his boss. Whatever the case may be, you don’t even want to have to think about what to feed those hungry faces!Β  You want to pull out your plan and execute, without a thought!

Enter…BATCH COOKING!

This type of meal prep seriously gives fast food a whole new meaning and instead of running out to the drive-thru those busy nights, walk into the kitchen and pull out some of your faves instead!

I know, I know…you’re like, “Um, hey, Jennifer? Where do I begin in this big, vast batch cooking universe?”

Have no fear…I have put together 6 of my easy peasy, simple secrets to batch cooking success. Arm yourself with these tips and tools, and your fridge will give you your answers the next time they ask “what’s for dinner?”.

1) Take time to research and shop smart.

Not just the food…the deals. I originally poo-pooed a discount grocery store when they first came to town but since then, I have found Aldi is my favorite store to find tons of deals and bargains on organic, plant-based foods. I regularly look at their weekly sales fliers and make note of any exceptional prices on fruit, veg, and whole grains.

Great deals for a steal at Aldi, compared to other large, well-known, natural food stores.

For instance, their organic nut milks are on average $1 cheaper per 1/2 gallon than other leading grocers in my areas, and they have super-cheap, organic canned beans. And, my all time fave…the lowest priced avocados in town. In addition, Walmart has been carrying a lot of organic and well-know vegan brands such as Bob’s Red Mill, Gardein and Kind. Become familiar with your favorite stores’ sales schedules and try to shop when you’ll get the most bang for your buck, literally.

2) Buy in bulk and take advantage of two-fors.

Another store that I have near me and that I love is Bulk Nation. After doing some research I found that this store carries a lot of responsibly-sourced, and organic products. Yes, they have a lot of candy and “junk food” but, I can find an awesome selection of nuts, seeds, grains, teas and spices.

Bulk staples steals from Aldi and Walmart!

Find the stores that offer bulk items in your area and start comparing the prices (see #1). Buying rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and frozen berries in bulk, (just to name a few), typically saves money and time, making it a super important step in the batch cooking kitchen. Also, anytime I see a 2 for 1 deal on something I love, I always buy either 2 or 4 of that product. Chances are if you are buying one, and you are becoming a batch cooking guru, you’re gonna need it.

3) Clean out and properly stock your spice cabinet.

There are endless flavor combinations in the plant-based kitchen and I have found that the more spices and herbs I have on hand, the more combinations I can make spontaneously. For instance, I have the spices to make Spanish lentils or Ethiopian Lentils. I have spices for Cuban beans or Mediterranean Bean Stew. Get out of the garlic and onion powder trap and throw some real spice in your life.

Just a few of the many spices in my cabinet! The more the tastier!

Here are some of my favorite spice to have on hand: oregano, red pepper flakes, sweet basil, paprika, smoked paprika, Italian seasonings, yellow curry, red curry, cumin, coriander, berbere, cayenne, taco seasoning, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon.

4) Mise en what?!

One technique that Rouxbe taught me was the importance of the mise en placeΒ or set up. Basically, having all your ingredients ready before you start cooking.Β  When you batch cook, you are trying to make the most of just a few hours, so, it is an important step to clean and prep and chop your ingredients, prior to turning on the stove or oven!

The mise en place, or set up, for three different batch cooked meals.

Use little bowls or cups for your diced onions and carrots, your soy sauce or spices. It may seem a little time consuming to get everything prepped and ready first, but, once you start cooking you will be so happy things are at your fingertips, ready to toss-in and stir.

Mise en place for Peanut Tempeh and Soba Noodles.

These ingredients are ready to go for a Spanish style stew.

5) Adapt, don’t quit.

Adjust recipes for what you have on hand. I’ve seen enough episodes of Chopped to know that something can be made from nothing. If you are working off a recipe and it calls for white onions, just use a yellow onion. If you need a cup of almond milk but you only use soy milk, then use the soy milk in the recipe. And, if you don’t have something to substitute, it’s OK to leave an ingredient out, if it’s not going to change the flavor profile.

One of my favorite Indian lentil recipes typically calls for diced potatoes but I didn’t have any potatoes on hand. I had all the other ingredients, so, instead of throwing in the towel and trying to figure out a new dish, I just left the potatoes out and added extra carrots and onions. Batch cooking can handle a little out-of-the-box thinking…I promise!

6) What to cook.

These are the meal prep dishes that I batch cook the most and that can be used and re-purposed in multiple meals throughout the week: spaghetti sauce, best beans ever, chickpea salad, roasted potatoes (see pic above), spiced apples, plain quinoa, farro, basmati rice, steamed broccoli, edamame and baked sweet potatoes.

Don’t forget the sweet stuff! This big batch of spiced apples is a perfect, quick sweet treat to add in oatmeal, over ice cream or just eat ’em as is!

I will also use my batch cooking time to make a whole meal that will last at least two nights, like a big pot of soup or chili, or a casserole pasta bake.

One big pot of eggplant & fennel spaghetti sauce makes a great base for a few meals!

See? I’m telling you. Batch cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or scary.

It can actually be fun, and if you have curious kids, why not get them in on the dicing, chopping, and measuring? With a little planning, smart shopping and a little dedicated time just one day a week, you can make enough food to give you (and the many mouths you may be feeding), plenty of healthy and nutritious choices to keep you on your plant-based path.

So next time you are rushed and deciding that Taco Bell just may be a quicker solution, remember all those beautiful beans you prepped just days before. They are screaming from your fridge…” don’t eat out…cook in!”.


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71 Comments

  1. Katie Wolfe on at

    Great suggestions! I have done this before and appreciated the results so much. I need to do it again. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks, Katie! We all just need a gentle push once in a while! πŸ˜€ You got this!

  2. Jacklynn Watson on at

    What great visuals you have! Makes my mouth water. You make it all sound so simple!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thank you, Jacklynn…and this is just with a little old (literally old) iPhone. We do get some good lighting though. I am glad it looks as good as I think it is! 😁

  3. Wow, that is cool! I have never batched cooked before!

    • Jennifer on at

      OMGosh, it’s like sliced bread! There when you need it and super convenient! πŸ˜πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

    • judean on at

      I am impressed with all of this, especially the apples. I just am too lazy to make it all. Btw,love Aldi!

      • Jennifer on at

        Hahaha…Aldi is the best!<3

  4. Joanne on at

    I love some of your ideas for batch cooking!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thank you, Joanne. I can’t wait to share other tips I’ve discovered that make plant based life and cooking in general, so much easier!

  5. Yolanda on at

    Thanks for the tips I need to try this. Since we stopped eating meat about 2 years ago, it’s often hard to come up with new stuff.

    • Jennifer on at

      I am so glad it was useful! I will be sharing more convenient, simple and cheap ideas to make veg life easier for all of us! Stay tuned. πŸ‘©β€πŸ³πŸ˜Š

  6. Lisa on at

    Love the ideas. Similar to what I do on Sunday’s for the week but with more options. Love it.

    • Jennifer on at

      Great! I cook on Sunday too!

  7. Charlene on at

    This is great! I’ve done freezer meals in advance and made a bunch of those at one time before. LONG day but so worth it for the next month (or 2!) but I’ve never done anything but crock-pot friendly meals. You make all these options look easy!

    • Jennifer on at

      Awesome, that’s what I thought when I learned these secrets…easy peasy! πŸ™ŒπŸ‘©β€πŸ³

  8. Angelina on at

    Wonderful tips and ideas! Makes me realize I really have to work on my ‘mise en place’!

    • Jennifer on at

      LOL…I didn’t even know the term mise en place a year ago. I love that simple tip. It really really works! Thanks for the share! πŸ‘©β€πŸ³πŸ˜Š

  9. Heather on at

    I try and do this on Sundays. Most weeks I get something done. I love knowing things are done and waiting for me.

    • Jennifer on at

      Right?! I cook Sundays too! It seems to be the day. πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘©β€πŸ³

  10. Leigh Ann on at

    I couldn’t agree more that spices are so important whether batch cooking or making smaller single serving meals. I also love that you remind us to make something sweet!

    • Jennifer on at

      I remind you of sweet ’cause my hubby reminds me! He has the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I’ve known. I have to keep up with his cravings. LOL. 😁

  11. Nikki on at

    This is really a great list. No matter what you eat this would work. I’m usually here alone a lot so I like to cook a few things one day and use it for many different meals

    • Jennifer on at

      Exactly! Cook smarter not harder! πŸ™ŒπŸ‘©β€πŸ³

  12. Robin on at

    All of your pictures are making me hungry! I can’t tell you how much time having my ingredients set up would have saved me over the years- looks so professional too, haha!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thank you! I only became all chef-y when I learned so many tips and tricks from Rouxbe. I will be sharing my Rouxbe experience in an upcoming blog post so stay tuned. πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘©β€πŸ³

  13. Theresa on at

    So excited to learn more! signed up for the newsletter! Thanks!!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks for your subscription, Theresa…I hope all of my posts are as useful to you. Please keep your comments coming! 😊

  14. Barbara on at

    Great post. I have done batch cooking before and also prepped meals for 5 days at a time. I love having things prepared and ready to go/

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks, Barbara! I am so glad others are crazy for batch cooking, like me! πŸ˜€

  15. Great reminders and will put them to use this July when hosting a huge college grad party for my daughter. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jennifer on at

      Oh perfect! Party prep can be daunting so I hope these tips help. Congrats to the college grad too! I am sure you are a proud mama like me…my baby graduates with an elementary education degree on 5/18! Yay for mamas (and daddios) raising smart kids! πŸ˜€

  16. Katie on at

    I need to start batch cooking so I’m not so tempted to order out in the evenings!

    • Jennifer on at

      The exact reason I batch cook! I need food on hand ready to go, otherwise…” Hello, Uber eats?”…LOL I hope this helps motivate you!

  17. Karla on at

    We aren’t vegan, but I do this once a month. I am single parenting 7 kids and having home-made, pre-cooked “frozen” meals ready to makes our evening life so much easier. I freeze in large, family meal amounts and in single serve containers that the teens can pull out and take to school for lunches (or even after school “snack” for those growing teen boys). Thanks!

    • Jennifer on at

      Wowee! Single parenting 7 kids! And I thought single parenting 2 girls was hard! You don’t just need batch cooking, you need a personal chef! LOL. It sounds like you have a good plan with the freezing and single-serve meals. You are a good mama bear! I appreciate your comment and I hope you find some of what I share useful! πŸ˜€

  18. Stacey on at

    Great ideas! Early in the school year, I do this a little. It usually falls apart at some point. It’s easier in the summer because I usually don’t even have to portion it up. I can leave a big batch in the fridge and just take some out as needed. I really want some baked apples now, by the way.

    • Jennifer on at

      LOL…those apples are soooo good. Getting ready to make another double batch this weekend. And, don’t worry, even I don’t batch cook every single week! We do the best we can and it sounds like your approach is working. Keep it up! πŸ˜€

  19. Tracy on at

    Great ideas! Love batch cooking.

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks Tracy!

  20. Carolina on at

    If only I was this commited. 😊 All your photos are making me hungry. I appreciate all the great ideas. I do batch cook a few things like burritos and things like that.

    • Jennifer on at

      LOL. Thanks, Carolina…some weeks I don’t feel as motivated either. πŸ˜€

  21. Sharon on at

    Great suggestions! I’m saving this to reference for my next Whole30.

    • Jennifer on at

      Awesome, Sharon! Glad this is useful!

  22. Lina on at

    I need to go back to batch cooking. It helped me stay on track and not fall back into my old habits; which I have fallen πŸ™

    • Jennifer on at

      That’s why I batch cook…to keep me from running to Chipotle! πŸ˜€

  23. Kyndall on at

    “Get out of the garlic and onion powder trap and throw some real spice in your life.” OMG, I shamefully laughed at this because those are my go-to seasonings plus salt and pepper when I’m in my “Screw it, I just want something to eat” mood! I do want to experiment with other seasonings though. I guess it’s a matter of just grabbing something different and experimenting (and praying it doesn’t burn my tongue off)!

    • Jennifer on at

      Hahaha…I knew there were people out there stuck in that trap…’cause I was there too! LOL. So glad this post was helpful! Thanks for the comment.

  24. Amber Neil on at

    We arent vegan, but I am always looking for ways to reduce the calories in my cooking. Anytime I can cook a vegan side dish.. i know i am doin somethin right!

    • Jennifer on at

      LOL…yes, any time plants make it to the plate or bowl the better! Thanks for the comment. I am super happy my post is useful to non-vegans as well. That’s my goal! πŸ˜€

  25. I used to do batch cooking, but have not for quite a while. My sister just moved in with us, and she wants to do batch cooking. This is a great article and useful to get us back in the swing!

    • Jennifer on at

      Hi Jennifer! I am so happy you got some use of this info! I think a day of music, laughter and saute pans is in order for you and your sis! Batch cooking with a partner can be a laugh a minute! πŸ˜€

  26. Kim on at

    I love cooking with spices too. Thanks for the tips!

    • Jennifer on at

      πŸ˜€ Yay for a little spice!

  27. jen on at

    Sending this to my muband the would be chef

    • Jennifer on at

      Awesome! Tell him to subscribe and he can be one step ahead! LOL Happy eating! πŸ˜€

  28. Cindy on at

    Hey it’s so great to meet another plant based person! Three years this July I embrace this lifestyle. Love your ideas. I batch cook occasionally. Excited to do this more often.

    • Jennifer on at

      Hi Cindy…I love my like-minded foodie friends! This blog is years in the making 9mostly ideas!) so, I have a ton of recipes, tips, resources, and food facts that I hope to share over the course of time. I am thrilled people like you are finding it useful even in its infancy! Thank you for following and…stay tuned for more! πŸ˜€

  29. Pauline on at

    When I lived alone, I would always cook on Thursdays for the whole week. All the mom’s cooked that way. I still do but now I only do it for three days of food at a time.

    • Jennifer on at

      Awesome! I really believe it saves time and money (and we eat better) by taking a few hours just one day a week! Thanks for sharing! πŸ˜€

  30. Amanda on at

    I absolutely hate cooking but this might actually be something that could work for me. Get it all over with all at once!

    • Jennifer on at

      Right!? Hey…just put on your favorite dance music and take 2 hours to make some delicious go-tos and you’re done! Viola!! You and your body deserve it! πŸ˜πŸ’š

  31. T.M. Brown on at

    Love this!! I am one who likes to have her ingredients all out, cut, chopped and in little glass containers before mixing everything together, so this spoke to me!! Now – if only I could do the batch cooking thing.

    • Jennifer on at

      Hehe…I love the mise en place…just saying it makes me feel all chefy! I do find this small technique has helped me be a better cook. Thanks for sharing! πŸ˜€

  32. Katie on at

    These are all such great tips. My fiance and I started new jobs as gate attendants at a campground. Which is a lot of fun, but it means being stuck in the gatehouse for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. We are going to start prepping more so this is very helpful!

    • Jennifer on at

      That sounds like a ton of fun! We just got back from camping and I will be writing about my vegan camping experiences too. I find prepping, cooking and eating is so much easier for vegans when camping. I hardly ever worry about enough ice or, my expensive (gasp) steak going bad….and, the food is much prettier to look at when it comes from plants. (Take a look at my IG page to see what food I cooked). I hope you will continue to follow and share your stories from the “gate”. πŸ˜€

  33. Nicki on at

    It is so nice to have everything ready to go and have options for a meal. Thanks for the tips!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thank YOU, for checking out the post. I hope to share other hacks that work well for me and I look forward to hearing others’ tips and tricks so I too can learn! πŸ˜€

  34. Amber Dunn on at

    Great tips! we do our bulk shopping once per month but never do cooking ahead of time. We should definitely start!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks for your comment, Amber. Batch cooking has made my life so much easier and, when I don’t batch cook I can find myself struggling to make a whole big meal some busy days, mostly because I don’t want to cook! If I have a big batch of red sauce, beans or potatoes in the fridge I know that’s a start and I’m one step ahead! πŸ™‚

  35. […] then take a chance on this protein-packed healthy alternative. It’s inexpensive too, so, I batch cook a couple of packages at once, which makes it a perfect go-to throughout the […]

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Meet Jennifer

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I'm Chef Jennifer! A trained and certified personal vegan chef, offering delicious and nutritious animal-free food through personalized, weekly meal-prep services. I also love advocating for the plant-based lifestyle. Changing lives, saving animals and veganizing the planet with REAL food, one plate at a time.🍎πŸ₯¦πŸ₯•

Learn about me, why I started VIR and why I believe food is medicine...for real!


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