Did you know you can cut your grocery bill in half just by making your own meals from scratch? It’s true! But making food from scratch can feel intimidating and time consuming (because it is!). That’s why I’m excited to share with you today how to save time in your kitchen with batching! Not only will these tips save you time in the kitchen, but money as well. In this post I’ll share my simple strategies to cut your time in the kitchen down and still get the benefit of healthy and budget saving cooking from scratch. Whether or not you have a large family like I do, or only cooking for two, we’re all looking for ways to eat healthy on a tight schedule and budget.
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Most time saving kitchen tips require buying more food that is premade or highly processed, which aren’t as good for our health. Sure they have their place, but the quality goes down when we buy something with added preservatives and ingredients to help keep it “shelf stable” after it’s been prepped for weeks. Instead, by batching, we can get ahead on prep and still keep the quality, flavor, and benefits of freshly prepared food.
Learn how to to use batching in all of these areas
- Sorting and storing
Save time with meal planning
The first step in the order of kitchen prep is always meal planning. Take 15 minutes and use my meal planning formula to plan out what you’ll be eating. Planning ensures you will have the food on hand you need while in the kitchen, so you can prep ahead anything else you have on your menu as you make similar recipes.
Make a list of every recipe you will need for the week, and print them at the same time. Batch this once at the beginning of the week. Likewise, you can look up your recipes on your phone and save a note with the links, as well.
Bonus tip: Put printed recipes on your fridge with a magnet for easy reference and cleanliness.
Batch your grocery shopping
With a meal plan you now only need to shop once a week, or order your food for delivery or pickup. I usually buy a large amount of shelf stable and freezer items when they’re on sale. I also make most of my household purchases through an online delivery or pickup order separately, so that my weekly shopping need only consist of mostly fresh ingredients.
Bonus tip: To help you stay in budget, use a grocery store app to make your shopping list. This will give you the total cost automatically. Use the same list at other grocery stores that don’t offer an app to cost compare. For example, I make a list in the Walmart app even if I plan to shop at Winco (who doesn’t offer an app), and I can easily cost compare on the spot.
Save time putting groceries away
When you go through the checkout, place like items together by where they’ll be put away in your house. This ensures they’ll be bagged together. When you get home, carry the bags directly to where they go and put them away immediately. This batch organization is a bonus if your family helps unload the groceries.
I group the following:
- Pantry items
- Items to freeze
- Bulk storage
- Refrigerated items
- Household things
Bonus tip: Buy bulk when you can and decant into smaller easy-to-squeeze bottles or jars. Store the larger containers in your secondary fridge or pantry.
Batch food prep
I don’t prefer to prewash my produce too far in advance as it can make them spoil sooner, but I do batch rinse what I am using that day. Here’s a quick way I do this- First, I chop what I’ll be using that needs to be rinsed, then place them in my large salad spinner bowl. Next, I fill it with water and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda or hydrogen peroxide and let it soak for 15 min or so while I work on something else. When they’re ready I just pick up the strainer section, pour out the water, do a quick rinse and spin, and Voila! They’re all clean and ready to go! This is the large salad spinner I use.
Make using your items easier by storing the ones most used together in the same area or bin.
Here are some things I store together:
- Baking items like soda, baking powder, vanilla, salt, cinnamon
- Seasonings like garlic, onion and Italian herbs
- Flour, sugar, oats, baking oils, chocolate chips
- Toppings for oatmeal and smoothie bowls- chia seeds, small nuts, dried fruit, flax seeds, etc.
Bonus tip: Move any meat you plan to use that week from the freezer to the fridge.
Save time with batching while you cook
When you’re ready to cook, begin by gathering all of your ingredients out of your fridge at the same time. If your fridge is away from the counter you’re working on, put them on a sheet pan to transfer. Likewise, gather all items from your pantry that you’ll use in that time.
Get all dishes or pots needed out of the same cupboard together and set them on the stove. This saves so much time not going back and forth or rummaging around looking for something you need while food is boiling over!
Make extra portions or prep ahead what you have time for from the week’s meal plan.
Bonus tip: Keep a small bowl for kitchen scraps if you compost or have chickens. Likewise, have a trash can nearby your prep station or use a small container on your counter to collect trash in. Save time and energy by not making extra trips around the kitchen.
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Some examples of what to batch cook
- Brown mulitple batches of meat at once. That initial browning lends a great deal of flavor in recipes and you can pre-brown then finish the rest of the recipe later. You can also use the same pans for different meats as it will be cooked to a higher temperature later.
- Peel, grate, cut or chop extra of the same produce if being used in another recipe.
- Freeze delicate herbs and garlic in ice cube trays covered with oil.
- Place veggie scraps and bones in a plastic freezer bag to be used for stock at a later time, or put directly into your crockpot to use immediately.
- Grate or slice extra cheese and store in the fridge.
- Cook extra grains if using in another recipe. It only requires a larger pot and 25% more time, but saves you triple that later.
- Mix dough or batter in the same bowl after only a quick rinse.
- Bonus tip: Most doughs can sit in the fridge overnight for the first rise and batter can as well. No need to worry about baking now, just get a step ahead and save time by only washing the bowl once. Your future self will thank you!
Save time when serving dinner
To serve your food hot from the kitchen or table, cook food for slightly less time, then cover with foil or a lid. Keep your serving utensils by each food item. Stack your plates next to the dishes for quick serving. Batch cut your little one’s food all at once with a pizza cutter and flexible cutting board to easily cut and serve smaller portions.
Bonus tip: Quickly cut your kid’s noodles, veggies or salad with kitchen shears.
Cut your cleanup time with batching
Reverse the order you used for gathering your ingredients for a quicker and easier cleanup.
- Gather all fridge items together (use a tray of sheet pan if needed) and put away.
- Then gather the pantry items together and put away.
- Clear your way across your counters towards your sink with your scrap bowl for trash.
- Gather dirty dishes and deposit trash into bowl
- Throw scraps from the bowl away
- Place dirty dishes in the sink
- While at the sink get your rag and spray bottle
- Spray and wipe counters.
- Load and wash your dishes immediately afterwards
- Sweep or vacuum the floors.
Bonus tip: Scrub your sink clean and wipe dry. Use bar keeper’s friend if you haven’t been doing this regularly.
Always begin with a plan! Once you have a plan you can batch by category, location, and time. This will also help you save your energy in the kitchen so that you can get more done with less effort! I hope you found this post helpful to ensure you have time to make affordable, quality, and healthy food in less time.
As always, thanks for sharing my little corner of the interwebs with me today, friends!
In His service,
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