No matter our best intentions, sometimes making a meal from scratch can seem like too much effort. When we’ve had a stressful day or are feeling under the weather, it’s easy to order a takeaway or snack on unhealthy food. But preparing meals in advance can be a great way to make sure you have plenty of nutritious food to enjoy throughout the week.
Batch cooking meals that are healthy, balanced, and appetising can also save you time and money. Plus, it can be a relief to head into Monday knowing that no matter how busy things get over the next few days, you’ll have a whole series of nice meals to eat!
With that said, here are eight batch cooking recipes that’ll help you eat well all week.
1. Sheet-pan ratatouille
Ratatouille is a dish that’s beautiful in its simplicity. Vegetables like courgettes, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes, onions, and garlic are oven-roasted, and the result is melt-in-your-mouth vegetables that’re bursting with flavour.
This simple yet delicious dish is fully vegan, packed with vitamins, and only uses one pan.
Ratatouille is a great dish to batch cook because, aside from knowing you’ll be eating plenty of vegetables throughout the week, it can be easily adapted too. So with a few simple changes, you’ll feel like you’re eating a different meal each day.
For example, you can pair ratatouille with some crusty bread, use it as a pasta sauce or to top polenta, or mix it with some rice or quinoa. You could also serve it with salad, add it to a frittata or quiche, serve it on toast with a poached egg, or pair it with a protein of your choice…the options are endless!
To make an easy, healthy ratatouille, try this recipe by Feasting At Home.
2. Creamy lemon and herb pot-roasted chicken
If you’re a fan of a traditional Sunday roast, you probably know it can be a lot of work to prep and make. Plus, unless you’re cooking for a big group, it’s a lot of food!
That’s why it can be an ideal recipe to cook and enjoy throughout the week. But to make things easier (and to save on washing up!), why not make a roast dinner using only one dish?
If you have a cast-iron casserole dish, you can easily cook a whole chicken in it – along with some small potatoes and veggies like peas and carrots. This means that after you’ve prepped the meat and veg, all you have to do is wait for your meal to cook.
After you’ve tucked into a Sunday feast, the leftover chicken can be enjoyed for days with rice, mashed potato, or steamed vegetables – and you’ll have lots of meat to use in sandwiches, bowls, or salads too. The extra veggies can be eaten in salads and grain bowls as well.
To get started, you might like to try this creamy lemon and herb pot-roasted chicken by Salt and Lavender. Or, if you don’t have a casserole dish, this roast chicken traybake by BBC Good Food also looks tasty.
3. Slow cooker Moroccan chickpea stew
Slow cookers are perfect for batch cooking, and if you want to make a meal to enjoy throughout the week without spending too much time preparing it, they’re the perfect solution.
All you need to do is prep your vegetables, chuck them into the pot, and go about your day. The slow cooking process can really help to bring out the flavours too.
If you’re looking for a batch cooking recipe that’s healthy, delicious, and easy on the budget, why not make Moroccan chickpea stew?
Cheap, satisfying, and high in protein, this dish uses up store cupboard staples like lentils and chickpeas. And it’s packed with spices like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, and pepper, so each mouthful is bursting with flavour.
Adding plenty of fresh veg makes things even healthier, and while you can enjoy this stew by itself, there are many ways you can adapt it during the week. Pair it with rice or quinoa, serve it with a protein of your choice, stuff it into peppers and roast, mix it with pasta, use it as a filling in a crusty roll, or add it to a grain bowl.
This slow cooker Moroccan chickpea stew recipe by Simply Quinoa is worth a try!
4. Fish stew
Fish might not seem like an obvious choice for batch cooking, but if stored properly, cooked fish keeps in the fridge for up to four days.
If you think you can’t make a delicious fish stew with just a handful of key ingredients, think again. You can make a wonderfully flavoursome stew with fish fillets, prawns, fish stock, chopped tomatoes, leeks, carrots, celery, and onions. The other ingredients are all herbs and spices you can add according to your taste preferences.
Fish stew is also more versatile than you might imagine. You can enjoy it by itself, turn it into a fish pie by topping it with mashed potato and baking it, or get creative by making fish tacos or fish cakes. Simply drain any excess liquid and wrap the fish mix in a tortilla or mix with mashed potato, shape into patties, and fry!
To get started, you might like to try this simple fish stew recipe from BBC Good Food.
5. Slow cooker bolognese
If you’re a pasta fan, there’s a good chance you love spaghetti bolognese. Rich, warm, and comforting, traditional Italian bolognese is a labour of love.
Cooking the sauce slowly, for a long time, will help it to thicken and become infused with flavour – which is why it’s another recipe that tastes especially good when it’s made in the slow cooker.
To make authentic Italian bolognese, it’s best to soften and brown your meat before adding it to the slow cooker. But after that, all you need to do is add the other ingredients – like crushed tomatoes, herbs, and wine. If you don’t eat meat or would like to make a vegetarian version, just swap the beef for veggie mince (there’s no need to brown it), lentils, or mushrooms.
Once your bolognese has cooked, you can serve it with spaghetti, but there are many other ways to enjoy this dish too. Stuff it into a jacket potato, pair it with rice or gnocchi, serve it with veg and protein, pack it into a baguette – or, to mix things up, add some beans and spices and turn it into a chilli!
If you like how this sounds, why not make this slow cooker bolognese recipe by Spend With Pennies?
6. Whole roasted cauliflower
If you like the thought of roasting lots of veg on a Sunday and enjoying it during the week, why not make a plant-based roast?
While veggie wellingtons, nut roasts, and even mock-meat roasts are popular, you may want to make a version that’s light, sumptuous, and all about celebrating vegetables.
Roasting a whole head of cauliflower may look impressive, but it’s surprisingly simple to do. Plus, adding plenty of veggie gravy and other vegetables means you get to enjoy all the best flavours of a Sunday roast: umami gravy, crispy roast carrots and potatoes, and tasty cauliflower soaked with savoury juices.
After you’ve had your fill on Sunday, you’ll have a whole pan of veg to enjoy during the week. You can add the leftovers to grain bowls and salads, sauté them with leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard, pair them with sausages, or use them in an egg scramble (or tofu, if you want to keep things vegan!).
To get started, you might like to try this whole roasted cauliflower recipe by Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen.
7. Sausage casserole
Casseroles are often seen as the classic batch cooking recipe. Not only are they great for using up vegetables that need eating, but they’re also excellent for making sure you’re getting plenty of nutrients.
Aside from the veg, you can pad out casseroles with quinoa or cheese, your choice of protein (meat or veggie), and just about any ingredient that’s in your fridge.
The beauty of casseroles is their versatility. You can make creamy casseroles, spicy casseroles, lentil casseroles, tuna casseroles, bean casseroles, or chicken casseroles…it all comes down to what you want to eat (and what you have at home).
But a sausage casserole is rich, hearty, and packed with flavour – and pork, chorizo, or veggie sausages work equally well.
There are also endless ways to eat your casserole. If it’s a cold day, you can pair it with comforting mashed potato, crispy roast potatoes, or some warm crusty bread.
Alternatively, for something a little lighter, serve it with salad, top with poached eggs, or stuff it into some pitta bread or tortillas. You could even chop the sausages up and use the casserole as a pasta sauce!
Why not try our very own sausage and bean casserole recipe?
8. Sheet-pan stir fry
A stir fry is often a dish you make when you’re in a rush and want to use up old vegetables – but making a sheet-pan stir fry can take this dish to the next level.
Roasting vegetables is a wonderful way to bring out their flavour, and it also means that after you’ve done the prep you can sit back and relax as your meal cooks.
To batch cook a sheet-pan stir fry, simply chop up some veg (broccoli, peppers, onions, carrots, and sugar snap peas work well), mix with a sauce (homemade or shop-bought), add your choice of protein (such as chicken, beef, or tofu), then lay out on a pan and roast.
While any vegetables work, it’s worth bearing in mind that sugar snap peas and broccoli don’t take as long to roast.
Not only does this recipe mean you use less oil, but it also allows your vegetables to crisp at the edges. You can serve the stir fry with noodles on day one and rice (or cauliflower rice) on day two. On later days, you can also add broth to it and make a noodle soup, or stuff it into a baguette to make a quick bánh mì!
To make a sheet-pan stir fry, why not try this recipe from Gimme Some Oven?
As this article hopefully shows, batch cooking doesn’t have to be bland – and it certainly doesn’t mean having to eat the same meal for days on end! A good batch cooking recipe is enjoyable by itself, but is also versatile enough to adapt throughout the week, so you can look forward to sitting down to different meals most nights.
Creating big batch meals is also an easy way to make sure you eat tasty, healthy food all week – while saving plenty of time along the way.
From using the slow cooker to make a delicious bolognese that you can serve with pasta, rice, bread, or jacket potatoes (or even turn into a chilli), to whipping up a simple fish stew that can be turned into a fish pie, fish cakes, or even fish tacos – the possibilities are endless!
For more time and money-saving meals, you might be interested in our articles; 20 healthy 30-minute meals and 10 money-saving recipes made from leftover foods. Or, head over to the food and drink section of our website.
Are you a fan of batch cooking? Or are you tempted to have a go at making some of these recipes? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.