Batch Cooking: Health Benefits And Time Efficiency
By Elisa Furlan
reviewed by juliana ascolani
A crucial aspect of our wellness journey is healthy eating. There’s one option in particular that has many benefits that go beyond health: batch cooking.
What is batch cooking?
Batch cooking, as its name hints, includes the preparation and storage of large quantities of food and store them to use as and when you please. The amount of food you prepare depends on the storage space you have, the type of food, and how good you are at planning ahead.
Yes, it’s true: batch cooking can be time consuming and requires good preparation skills. Then, the first thing that comes to mind could be: “How is cooking in bulk actually helpful?” It can be hard to imagine its helpfulness, so let’s explore the holistic benefits of batch cooking together.
The mental health benefits of cooking
Most of the time, we think that cooking at home is only good for our physical health since it’s “healthier” than store-bought options. It’s certainly true, and we’ll talk about it in the next paragraph, but it’s also fundamental to understand that cooking has a unique power over our minds.
When we cook we start with fresh products and end up with a delicious meal that we can eat together with our family and friends. But you may be wondering how exactly cooking helps our mental health.
Stress reduction and happiness
The mental health benefits of cooking start from seeing the shape and the color of the food and smelling its aroma. Since the cooking process can be a comfortable and enjoyable activity, it can help reduce stress levels and increase our quality of life.
The mental health benefits derived from the happiness that people feel during and especially after cooking. Have you ever tried a new recipe and felt incredibly happy after seeing the result? I for sure have. It’s like a child going to a carnival!
Cooking is an extremely creative process. Yes, there are often recipes that we can follow. However, there are some changes that we can make based on our own tastes. Or we could even create a whole recipe from scratch. I do that sometimes and, even though they don’t always turn out amazing, the process is fun! And the benefits of creativity are countless.
Cooking can also improve our cognitive abilities and prevent us from developing or worsening existing cognitive impairments or dementia. Since cooking is a familiar daily task, it’s often used for cognitive and physical evaluation and development in the elderly and people who had strokes or with problems of substance use.
Among the other mental health benefits of cooking, we also have an increase in self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to “an individual’s overall positive evaluation of the self.” It’s been shown that taking part in cooking classes leads to an increase in self-esteem levels thanks to concentration, coordination, and confidence. In particular, being able to prepare a product and give it to others was felt as beneficial and rewarding by the people who participated in the class.
The physical health benefits of batch cooking
Apart from the mental health benefits of cooking, batch cooking can significantly improve our physical health.
Question of time
Most people aren’t able to eat as healthy as they like because they’re too tired when they come back home after work. But the problem isn’t only about working adults. College students eat a lot of take-out, too. A recent report showed that this category spends large portions of money on prepared food instead of fresh products. The main reason is convenience.
Batch cooking is a way to have healthy food available during the whole week. One may argue that spending a lot of time cooking one day of the week isn’t any better than spending less time cooking each day. However, let’s imagine the situation.
You go to the grocery shop and buy some fresh products. Then you go home and start cooking dinner for that evening using small pans (since you’re only cooking for that particular meal). It takes you around 20 minutes to prepare a decent and tasty meal. The next day, you do it all over again.
Here’s the “batch cooking” scenario instead. You go to the grocery shop and buy a week’s worth of fresh products. You go home and start cooking. Since you use larger pans and pots, you’re able to prepare five dinners in one sitting. The cooking time is the same, or slightly higher, but you have more dinners ready. The next day — and the following ones — you don’t have to worry about going grocery shopping or cooking. You take the container from the fridge, heat it, and ta-da! — a perfectly delicious and healthy dinner is served.
A healthier choice
As we’ve said, batch cooking allows us to have healthy foods always available and rely less on take-out. This means that we’ll be able to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Eating take-out food very frequently can lead to unpleasant health consequences. In particular, eating a lot of fast food can cause negative changes in body weight and insulin resistance. On the other hand, eating home-cooked food helps us eat significantly healthier: not only are we able to include more fruits and vegetables in our diet, but we’re also more likely to enhance nutrient intake (such as eating less saturated fats and more whole grains), reduce the risk of obesity, and have a longer lifespan.
The financial benefits of batch cooking
Not only is batch cooking beneficial for one’s health, it also doesn’t come at a higher price, saving us money in the long run. How?
First of all, we buy larger quantities of food. Therefore, although the total price is higher, the price per product may be lower if we choose to buy family packs instead of smaller ones.
Moreover, although take-out might be more affordable than buying fresh products, it’s possible to eat healthier on a budget without relying on pre-cooked meals or fast foods.
Tips and tricks
There are some tricks and tips that can help you with and after the process of batch cooking.
One of the most important things is knowing how to properly store the food you prepare. Do you want to cook four meals and eat them during the following days? Then you’ll have almost no problem: you can store them in the fridge and heat them up each evening.
However, if you want to freeze them, you have to know which foods can be frozen, if they’ve been frozen before, and how long they will last. It’s not overly complicated but these are things that should be known for your own safety.
Last, but not least, label everything. This way you won’t doubt what exactly is in each container
As we’ve seen throughout the article, batch cooking can be extremely beneficial for many aspects of our health. Although at first it may not sound time or cost-efficient, we’ve learned today that it actually is. You can try and see how it goes. You might surprise yourself!
Juliana is a passionate health researcher and biomedical engineer, who bridges data analysis with health content, with the main goal of empowering people with knowledge to boost their health and wellbeing. She believes that inclusion is one of the main pillars of our society, so she works in the development of inclusive and holistic health solutions. When she is not researching, you can find her with tea and some blankets.
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