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Batch Cooking at Home

Prep Like a Pro

Working in professional kitchens... I've learned about the importance of smart batch cooking up close and personal. As a food-junkie, I understand that if I don't spend a few hours batch cooking once a week every week, I'll eat less than stellar meals when my voracious Food Monster rears its ugly head. Change your home environment. Keep cheese, chips, and soda out of the kitchen. Instead, have steamed broccoli and cauliflower, roasted vegetables, cooked grains and legumes, and veggie stock ready to go. I make stock once a month and change the flavor profile to prevent boredom. 

Batch cooking techniques... include steaming, high-heat wok cooking, roasting, boiling, and various prep steps such as chopping, dicing, slicing, and cleaning. Cooking at home and eating nutritious foods via the Batch Cooking Hall of Fame mean always having the following items ready to go: steamed veggies (al dente: just under-cooked / blanched: steeped in boiled water 1-2 minutes); a mix of al-dente roasted vegetables; boiled red potatoes and sweet potatoes; cooked whole intact grains (brown rice, hulled barley, quinoa); cooked beans (lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans); cleaned green leafy veggies; and mirepoix (chopped or diced carrots, onions, and celery). Add sprouts to the list and you rock. 

When we take the shorter time... to do batch cooking once a week (or twice for larger households), then the amount of time it takes to "build" a meal using all the cool ingredients in our kitchen is much lower. Spend time now to save a lot of time later. Batch cooking is a way to focus more on whole plant foods which are essential, and helps keep our cravings more calmed down. When our environment is clean, so are our bodies. Health is a choice and it matters. Cooking matters, too. 

Laudable Leftovers

The difference between... batch cooking and leftovers is simple: leftovers are a prepared dish made with a higher volume in mind for meals later on or for freezing, and batch cooking means preparing the "raw materials" which can be eaten on their own or as part of prepared dishes. Add WPF leftover classics to your menus: lasagnas, chilis, soups, casseroles, slaws, dips, sauces, pickled things (low-salt beets are my favorite), various grain and bean based salads, stir-fry's, stuffed veggies (squashes, tomatoes), and nutrious desserts to name a few. Check out the variety of WPF and vegan food blogs and go to town. And you might want to avoid most faux-vegan foods which aren't so nutritious.

Also, I keep the baseline of my recipes... relatively simple, while adding interesting flavors and textures via herbs, spices, aromatics, fusion combos, and cooking techniques. The wok is a great tool to easily cook veggies, grains, proteins, aromatics, and herbs together quickly, and the high-heat method keeps the nutrition more intact than roasting or boiling. What I mean by simple is this: I eat grains, legumes, and vegetables in simple forms, then get creative with fresh herbs, cool spices, onions, garlic, vinegars, mustards, and miso. WPF chefs understand KISS: keep it simple silly. I start with simple ingredients and elevate them via the CH five-ingredient trick

Leftovers can be portioned and frozen... for up to about three months. They can also be portioned out for lunches and taken to work (saves so much money). Keep the FIFO (first in first out) method in mind, and try not to waste long-forgotten leftovers. You can also turn most any leftovers into a soup, stew, casserole, sauce, or dip. Also, always take a deep sniff of food before re-heating or re-purposing. ALWAYS.  

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