Batch cooking student meals is a great way to save money and be your future friend. As you embark on your University career it will become increasingly important to have affordable healthy food readily available. Resist the urge to splurge on takeaways with tasty meals ready to heat up. With a little bit of planning, it’s easy to make plenty of nutritious meals without having to spend all your food budget. It’s all about planning and preparation!
Our top tips for affordable batch cooking for students –
- Plan. Before you start to plan out your meals, sit down and think about what you really enjoy and how best to prepare your foods. Do you have large enough pans or slow cooker? Some good choices are soups, stews and curries.
- Careful prep. It’s important to be careful when prepping ahead for your batch cooking meals. Chop a huge load of onions in one go and freeze what you don’t use now. Chop and bag veg, protein, seasoning into a bag that you can freeze and just wack in your slow cooker when ready to cook.
- Freeze ahead. Check your dates, what CAN be frozen without losing quality and what will lose flavour or texture. Freezing is a great idea, because you don’t need to worry about it getting spoilt before you use it! However, it does mean you need to be aware that some foods, especially meats, shouldn’t be frozen at all as its already been frozen once. You can refreeze if you cook meat.
- Choose readily available ingredients. Most healthy batch cook meals don’t require too many special ingredients. Root veg are cheap and delicious slow cooked. Chicken thighs, pork shoulder and stewing beef are nice cheap meats for large recipes. Beans, chick peas and lentils are great protein sources for vegan and veggie dishes.
- Look for labour saving ingredients. Jars and tubes save time and effort -garlic, ginger, chili can all be bought this way. You can buy dried mushrooms much more cheaply than fresh types. Onions, peppers and okra can be bought frozen. Tinned tomatoes save a lot of work!
- Buy in bulk if you can. If you can afford to, and can store the huge meals you make, buying in bulk will help you be able to get a lot more for your money. Look out for fresh produce close to its use by date -if you know you are cooking today then it won’t be a problem to buy fresh meat or veg on its use by date.
- Be creative! Flavours are easy to experiment with and as you grow in confidence you will be able to try more! This helps add variety. You might love spag bol today – but will you want it 10 days on the trot! Batch cook a basic mince then split it and make one lot Mexican with beans, one Italian, a Moroccan version with chickpeas!
- Decide how to store. Do you have a big freezer or just a small freezer drawer? If the latter is true, invest in some good quality zip lock bags -you can freeze flat and store several meals in a small space.
- Label carefully – date and what it is! Mystery food is not as fun as it sounds!
- Enjoy your batch cooking student meals experience – its a great feeling to be in control of your diet and prepared for late nights and early starts in student accommodation