Batch cooking is an easy way to take the stress out of cooking and means on those evenings where you don't have the time to cook there is a delicious home-cooked meal ready to go.
There are a few ways to take advantage of batch cooking. Either by creating a base which can be transformed into different meals throughout the week. Such as a basic mince that is served with spaghetti one day and in a hassle-free lasagne the next. Or by cooking meals in bulk and freezing portions or storing dishes ready to be reheated in the future.
Batch cooking isn’t just a great way to get ahead and get organised. It will also save you money and reduce food waste. Read on to discover our best batch cooking dishes…
Batch cooking recipes
The best batch cooking recipes have simple bases that can be transformed into other dishes or are meals that can be stored easily. So batch cooking can essentially be a smart way of using up the leftovers, or preparing larger quantities and portioning them out and storing them so they require minimal preparation.
In fact, some dishes even improve with age, we find in general stew or ragu is best the day after it’s cooked. Leaving it in the pot gives the flavours a chance to amalgamate and somehow makes it even tastier!
Batch cooking vegetable soup
Soup is the perfect batch cooking recipe. It can easily be stored and quickly reheated. Soup is always a fantastic way to use up any leftover vegetables too. Start with a simple base of carrots, onions and celery and you can add any other vegetables that you fancy. To make making soup even quicker and simpler we use the food processor to cut the peeled vegetables up.
Top tip for batch cooking soup:
If you add pasta or barley to your soup it will suck in lots of the liquid. When reheating add a little more stock to make the soup to the correct consistency.
How to store soup:
In a sealed container in the fridge soup will keep for about a week. It can also be frozen easily. However, be cautious if freezing in glass jars. The liquid will expand as it freezes. The trick is to leave the lid off the soup when you first put into the freezer to make sure there is space at the top of the jar. Then replace the lid only once the soup is fully frozen. Freeze in portions to make the defrosting faster. Vegetable soup will keep well in the freezer for 3 months.
Get the recipe: Vegetable soup
Batch cooking Bolognese sauce
This classic sauce made from minced beef and vegetables is extremely versatile. It can be served as a pasta sauce and then transformed into other meals.
If you’re not a meat-eater Joe Wicks’ lentil Bolognese recipe is a great alternative. It can be used just as the meat one can. It’s vegetarian, but still filling and hearty.
Top tip for batch cooking Bolognese:
We suggest making an extra-large batch and using the leftovers in other dishes such as lasagne, pasta bake or cottage pie. In fact, Sam Gates author of The Batch Cook Book loves the “Cook once, eat twice” approach. She describes it as “The batch cook’s mantra.”. So you can enjoy your favourites over and over in different guises.
How to store Bolognese:
The sauce will keep well for a few days in the fridge, but any longer keep in the freezer. Bolognese sauce can be stored well-sealed in the freezer for 1 month. Any longer and the freezer will dry out the meat making it tough, so it may be chewy but will still be edible. Reheat to piping hot before serving again.
Get the recipe: Bolognese recipe
Batch cooking Ratatouille
Batch cooking isn’t just a great time saver, but it’s also a fab way to enjoy your favourite seasonal vegetables all year round. We love a med veg medley, and it doesn’t get more veg-tastic than a gorgeous ratatouille. This recipie by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is great.
Top tip for batch cooking ratatouille:
Ratatouille can be served as a side or a main as it is. Like all great stews, it improves with age. It will keep well in the fridge for 5 days. We also like to add couscous or chicken pieces to the stew to make it a little different. It also works well as a pasta sauce.
How to store ratatouille:
Courgettes and aubergines don’t freeze well raw, but in this stew they are great. Freeze in portions and defrost before adding the additional ingredients. Ratatouille can be frozen for any amount of time, although we wouldn’t recommend freezing foods for longer than 3 months as it can be detrimental to the quality. Ratatouille will keep in the fridge for 1 week.
Get the recipe: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ratatouille recipe
Batch cooking baked potatoes
Baked potatoes are extremely versatile leftovers to have. They can be rebaked, transformed into gnocchi or even used in fish cakes or as the topping to a shepherd’s pie.
Top tip for batch cooking baked potatoes:
We always cook up and extra few baked potatoes to use in meals later in the week. But it can be tricky to resist the urge to eat them!
How to store baked potatoes:
Once cool wrap in foil and store in the fridge until ready to use. They will keep for 4 days refrigerated. To freeze already cooked baked potatoes wrap them well in clingfilm and but into a freezer bag for extra protection. They can be stored in the freezer for 1 month.
Get the recipe and more ideas on how to use the leftovers: Our favourite jacket potato recipes
READ MORE: How to use up Sunday roast leftovers
Batch cooking ham
Cooking your own ham is a little bit of an undertaking, but it’s bundles cheaper than buying the ready cooked stuff and it will keep you going all week. Once you get the hang of it they’ll be no stopping you!
Top tip for batch cooking ham:
Especially around Christmas ham is a popular choice. It’s first served hot and then for subsequent meals served cold and sliced. We enjoy serving ham as a main all year round, knowing that we’ll have a week’s worth of delicious sarnies to enjoy. Ham can also be cubed and added to salads or back into hot meals. Have a look at our ham recipes for more inspiration of what do with the ham leftovers.
How to store a whole cooked ham:
Cool the ham entirely before wrapping and refrigerating. Eat within 1 week. The cooled ham can also be frozen, though depending on the calibre of your freezer it may dry out or burn. If freezing, wrap in baking parchment or greaseproof paper and then place into a freezer bag. Defrost in the fridge. Ham can be frozen for 1 month in. If you discover that the ham isn’t as good quality once defrosted use it for cooking, try using is in tasty ham recipes instead.
Get the recipe: Downton Abbey’s decadent Christmas ham recipe
Batch cooking salt beef
Similarly to ham salt beef is excellent served as a hot meal, but for us, nothing beats a salt beef bagel with mustard and pickles! And when you make the salt beef yourself it’s bounds above the shop-bought stuff.
Top tip for cooking salt beef:
A 2kg piece of brisket as used in the recipie below should give you plenty of leftovers. Using a fatty piece of beef brisket will mean it’s more resilient when cooking to drying out. If you plan on saving the leftovers this is important as it will dry even more while in the fridge. We suggest you ask the butcher for a piece from the thick half with fat, as it will be easier to cook.
How to store salt beef:
Cool and store salt beef in the fridge wrapped up in clingfilm or tinfoil. Salt beef will keep for about a week in the fridge. Salt beef can be frozen for 1 month in an airtight container or freezable bag. As will ham (above) it may effect the quality so is best eaten fresh.
Get the recipe: Salt beef recipe
Batch cooking roast chicken
If there was an award for stretching a roast chicken I think we would be in the running. We cook up a roast on a Sunday and it keeps us going for a good few days. Winner winner chicken dinner.
Top tip for using leftover roast chicken:
Get a bird larger than you need. It’s delicious hot, the centrepiece of a Sunday roast. But also superb in sandwiches (don’t stint on the mayo here!). Use the reminded in a new dish. Check out our 50 easy leftover chicken recipes for inspo.
How to store leftover roast chicken:
Cut the meat from the carcass and store in a sealed container in the fridge. The cooked roast chicken stored in the fridge will be ok to eat for 4-5 days. If you are unsure smell the chicken, it will have a strong smell and taste if it has gone off. If it has gone off don’t risk it, bin it.
Cooked chicken will dry out if frozen for too long. We would suggest just freezing if you will not be able to eat it in time. Keep in the freezer for 1 month only.
Get the recipe: Roasted spatchcock chicken recipe
Batch cooking stew
Batch cooking works with pretty much any stew. But beware that fish is more fragile when it comes to freezing so don’t leave in the freezer for more than a month or the texture will become chewy. A great option for freezing is this tasty looking beef stew.
Top tip for batch cooking stew:
GoodtoKnow Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith is partial to a good old fashioned stew. And when it comes to cooking in bulk for batch cooking he has a genius method. Samuel explains “An hour before the end of the cooking time I freeze the stew in portions. Then when I fancy eating stew I just have to defrost and cook for an hour longer”. This is a great way to do it and means you can even add in additional fresh ingredients for the last hour of cooking.
How to store:
Divide into portions and freeze. You could freeze in freezer bags or containers. It’s much easier to portion the stew before freezing it, as then you can just take out what you need and no have to wait for the whole thing to thaw. You can keep the stew in the freezer for 3 months, or even longer (although the meat may become tough). The stew can be kept in the fridge for about 5 days, but always check the freshness before eating.
Get the recipe: Beef stifado recipe
Batch cooking tarts
The majority of tarts freeze well. If you can get them (we often save them from shop brought pies) make the tart in a foil round case. This will help to protect your tart in the freezer.
Top tip for batch cooking tarts:
Make two or even three at once. Cook them before cooling and freezing. To reheat defrost fully and heat for 20 mins at 180C/Gas 4 until the centre is hot.
How to store:
Once cool freeze in well-sealed freezer bags for up to 3 months. The tart will also be fine in the fridge for 2 days. Any longer and the pastry is likely to go soggy and fall away from the filling, so reheat before serving to refresh it.
Get the recipe: Tomato and Dijon tart with a Parmesan and basil crust recipe
Batch cooking vegetarian recipes
Batch cooking vegetarian and plant-based dishes is easy too. In fact, it’s a fab way to use up leftover vegetables so they don’t go to waste. We mentioned above our favourite summer side – Ratatouille, and the best winter warmer – vegetable soup which are both fantastic vegetarian batch cooking dishes. But vegetables are extremely versatile when it comes to batch cooking.
You can transform tired vegetables into a delicious stew, a pasta sauce, or even just grilled ready to sandwich fillings or to be added to salads. Other vegetarian ingredients can be added too.
Pulses and beans freeze well and make a vegetable dish instantly more hearty and filling. Cheese as well does well in the freezer – so a veggie lasagne would also be the ideal batch cooking recipe. One of our faves for a simple and hearty vegetarian dish is this tasty Ragu made with Quorn.
Mushroom ragu with courgetti
Sort of like spag-bol – but we think better. It’s lighter but equally as tasty. What’s not to love? Perfect for a meat-free Monday.
How to store:
The ragu can be made in advance kept in the fridge for 5 days or frozen for longer (up to 3 months as unlike meat, Quorn freezes very well). Make the courgette fresh using a spiralizer or buy ready-made in packets from the supermarket.
Get the recipe: Mushroom ragu with courgetti recipe
Batch cooking Slimming World
Batch cooking doesn’t always have to be hearty rich and indulgent. If you are more into healthy eating then why not try batch cooking some of our Slimming World recipes.
Slimming World chilli with rice
Chilli lends itself to batch cooking as it keeps well – it’s another great recipe that we’re convinced improves with age. Would you prefer it on top of a baked potato or served with rice (for a healthy option choose wholegrain or wild)?
How to store:
The chilli freezes well and will keep for 1 month in the freezer, but make the salsa and rice fresh. The chilli can be kept in the fridge for 5 days.
Get the recipe: Slimming World chilli with rice recipe
Batch cooking cakes and bakes
Even sweets can be baked in bulk and frozen. We keep a supply of uncooked biscuits in the freezer ready to bake from frozen and whole cooked cakes ready to be defrosted and enjoyed. Our favourite bake to keep a supply of in the freezer is choux buns. Surprisingly the pastry cooks even better from frozen.
Top tip for batch cooking:
Make a double recipe when you need these and keep the extra as a backup.
How to store: Freeze the uncooked choux in shapes on a tray. The uncooked choux can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just make sure it is kept in a well-sealed container. Once frozen transfer into a freezer bag. Cook straight from frozen, just add 5 mins to the cooking time. They are ready once the inside is dry.
Get the recipe: Nadiya Hussain’s rose & pistachio choux stack recipe
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get batch cooking!