Do you feel like you don’t have the time to cook and eat proper meals everyday, but don’t want to rely on instant noodles and takeaways? Then I have the answer for you; Batch Cooking!
Although I find cooking enjoyable, I know there are many days where I would rather order in a Chinese, or substitute a meal with a bunch of snacks, over spending time and effort on cooking up a healthy lunch/dinner. Especially when you begin to be swamped with assignment after assignment, and the overall tiredness from going out to the clubs and pulling all-nighters in the library creeps up on you. Now I’ve only been doing this for a very short time, but one way to remedy this is through batch cooking. Essentially you cook a load of food at once, and then eat it periodically over the week.
To do this you will need to, ironically, set aside some time during one day of the week (I recommend on a Sunday evening when there isn’t much going on) and have a load of Tupperware or Pyrex dishes to store said food in. If you don’t have the money to spend on Pyrex dishes, washing out and keeping the plastic boxes, from the takeaway you splurge on every now and then, make a great substitute (though keep in mind that these are not the best to carry around with you if you are making lots of lunches).
But what to cook I hear you cry? So long as you make sure to thoroughly cook whatever it is you are making, most things are generally fine to cook in big batches and then refrigerated, or frozen, for later use. Foods like grains and legumes (i.e. beans, lentils, chickpeas) are great places to start, as they can be stored for a little longer than meats and fishes. Generally try to avoid dairy, as these are more likely to go off sooner. Personally I tend to go for either Asian or Mediterranean dishes, as I enjoy the spice and flavour, but also because the oils used in these cuisines help preserve the food for longer, whilst also keeping your batches from drying out. Go with what you love to eat!
My go-to recipe for this has to be my Coconut Rice, which I will share with you below. It’s a simple recipe, that is easy to make up at any time, and is great for pairing up with a spicy curry or just eating it straight up with some soy sauce or sweet chilli sauce.
The ingredients for 4-5 portions of Coconut Rice are:
- 500g Basmati Rice
- 2 Red Onions
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1tbsp Coconut Oil (though any type of cooking oil is fine)
- 1x 400ml Coconut Milk
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
First leave the rice to soak in some cold water for at least 15 minutes, and then later rinsed, to remove the starchiness before cooking. In the mean time, dice and finely chop your onions and garlic, and gently fry in a large pan (with a lid) on a medium heat, until the onions have browned and gone soft. Add your washed rice, frying for only 2-3 minutes, before adding the coconut milk and another cans worth of water. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and place the lid on top. Cook the rice for 10-15 minutes, making sure to stir the rice every couple of minutes so as to prevent sticking to the base of the pan (though truth be told I always find some stuck to the bottom). Once all the liquid has been soaked up, portion out your rice into your boxes, and refrigerate*. When ready to serve, zap in the microwave for 4-6 minutes and enjoy! Bon Appétit!
*WARNING: Rice left out at room temperature can produce toxins that can lead to food poisoning. Be sure to either eat rice straight after it is cooked, or store it away in the fridge as soon as possible after initial cooking. Reheat thoroughly before eating any leftovers/precooked batches.
Need some help or advice? Send in a question today by commenting on this post below! A private message will be sent to me and the team, where I can answer them in the new Agony Aunt series ‘Dear Drew’.