The author has been compensated by Best Buy to write the following article.
National Nutrition Month is winding down, but that doesn’t mean eating more healthfully can’t be top of mind all the time. One key to putting scratch-cooked, deliciously nutritious meals on the table with relative ease? Batch cooking!
It’s easy. Just prepare larger portions of fresh food once or twice a week, then build off the components to create two or more fast and healthful meals instead of grabbing takeout or ordering in. The trick is to keep the basics simple, then add variety and flavor with zingy condiments. Your tastebuds, wallet and waistline will thank you. All it takes is a bit of planning…and, of course, the right cooking tools.
I like using small appliances because they make the basic techniques of batch-cooking – braising, creating big flavors and fast reheating – a snap, both in preparation and clean-up. With the right equipment, the options for simple, craveworthy cooking are endless.
I personally manage my health with a nutrient-dense, paleo-style diet. That means a big focus on a bounty of cooked, raw and fermented vegetables and herbs; grassfed/pastured/wild meats, fish, and eggs; grain-free starches; nuts and seeds; and healthy fats like grass-fed butter, avocado oil and olive oil.
Here are three basic, paleo-style, batch-cooked recipes that incorporate some of these foods: Grain-Free Flour Tortillas, Basic Pot Roast (using a smart slow cooker) and Arugula Chimichurri, which can be made easily in a blender.
Using the above recipes as examples, here’s how to cook once and turn the dishes into several meals:
- The day you cook, make marvelously chewy tacos. Pull the beef into bite-sized pieces, layer onto warm tortillas with sliced radishes, drizzle with chimichurri and dig in.
- Freeze extra tortillas and reheat in a toaster/pizza oven, then fill with scrambled eggs and salsa for quick breakfast tacos. Or mix chimuchurri with mayonnaise, smear on tortillas and add deli slices of organic turkey, sliced avocado and a handful of spinach leaves for lunchtime gluten-free wraps.
- If you have a big family, make two roasts. Dice leftover beef and saute with onions, peppers, mushrooms and red or sweet potatoes to make a hearty hash. Top with fried eggs and chimichurri for a fast dinner or brunch treat.
- Make a simple stew by simmering thinly sliced carrots and cabbage in the pot roast braising liquid until tender. Add diced beef and a swirl of the chimichurri. Bring the stew to work for lunch, or make a simple grilled cheese “sandwich” with the tortillas and enjoy both together as a hearty dinner.
- You can make pork tacos with the tortillas and ginger scallion sauce the first night.
- The next day for lunch, make a chopped salad with lettuce, cabbage and other favorite vegetables. Top with pork and sliced almonds, and dress with ginger scallion sauce.
- The plantain tortillas are terrific for breakfast with bacon or sausage and blueberries warmed in maple syrup.
You get the point! Plan a little, batch cook, have FUN, and eat healthfully and deliciously.
Stephanie A. Meyer is a Minneapolis-based writer, photographer, cooking instructor, and recipe developer. She writes a popular health food blog, Fresh Tart, and is the author/photographer of Twin Cities Chef’s Table cookbook. Meyer contributes to numerous publications and websites including Food & Wine, Cambria Style, Paleo Magazine, and Edible Twin Cities. She is the founder and organizer of Fortify: A Food Community, a group of Minnesota food writers and industry professionals who host educational events and raise money for local charities.