Batch cooking makes dinnertime so much easier – here’s a foolproof 6-recipe guide

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A smart way to save time and money, batch cooking ensures you never have to struggle for dinner inspiration after a long day. Make life easier with this six-day guide – you’ll thank yourself later.

Whether you’re doing your job from home, venturing into the office occasionally or going into work just like you always have, you’re likely no stranger to feeling ravenous at the end of the day – yet simultaneously too burned out to cook. It’s in these situations that batch cooking really comes into its own.

Batch cooking (preparing meals or the components of meals in advance) means you can stay one step ahead of the game, ensuring you’ll never be stuck for dinner inspiration come 6pm. Set aside a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, and you can simply store your prepped ingredients or dishes in the fridge, freezer or kitchen cupboard, where you can forget about them until you need them later in the week. 

batch cooking by keda black
Batch Cooking: Prep and Cook Your Weeknight Dinners in Less Than 2 Hours by Keda Black (Hardie Grant)

But while we know in theory that batch cooking can save us time and money and cut down on food waste, it also requires planning – which can make it seem like more trouble than it’s worth. And it’s all too easy to reach the tail end of Sunday without the time or the inclination to start assembling a week’s worth of dinners.

If you fancy trying batch cooking but don’t know where to begin, try Keda Black’s practical, inspiring book Batch Cooking: Prep and Cook Your Weeknight Dinners in Less Than 2 Hours, which contains weekly shopping lists as well as easy-to-follow batch recipes. Below, Black shares a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to buy at the weekend to make five simple and delicious weekday dinners and one dessert: chicken tabbouleh; gazpacho and hummus; green shakshuka with feta; summer vegetable pasta; gratin with sardines and raspberry clafoutis (note: all recipes are designed to serve four).

There’s also a step-by-step guide to the food prep that should be done on a Sunday – so that when weekday evenings roll around, you need only add a few finishing touches (taking a maximum of 10 minutes) before dinner is served. Bon appetit!

Shopping list ingredients

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 8–10 courgettes
  • 20 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 3 red peppers
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 bunches of flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 bunch of spring onions (7 onions)
  • 2 bunches of mint
  • 300g raspberries (can be frozen)
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 200g podded peas (can be frozen)

Chilled produce

  • 150g feta
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 16 eggs
  • 10g butter
  • 2–3 chicken breasts
  • 400ml crème fraîche
  • 40g Parmesan

General groceries

  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
  • Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
  • 150g bulgur
  • 100g pitted olives
  • tinned sardines (enough for 4 people, according to appetite)
  • 500g pasta
  • 150g whole almonds

Store cupboard

  • olive oil
  • 75g plain flour
  • cumin seeds
  • 75g caster sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • coriander seeds

Preparation

Sunday

1. Advance preparation

20 minutes

Rinse and snip the herb leaves. Store in jar in refrigerator.

Wash all the vegetables. Slice the tomatoes.

Cut 5 or 6 courgettes into 5 mm (¼ in) slices. Dice the rest.

Cut two-thirds of the cucumbers into large pieces, one-third into small dice.

Cut two-thirds of the (bell) peppers into large pieces, one-third into dice.

Peel the garlic and onions. Thinly slice 4 onions. Store 2 of them chopped with the small diced cucumber, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Store in container in refrigerator. 

2. Dukkah

10 minutes

In a frying pan heated dry over a medium heat, toast the almonds.

Take out half, then add 2 tablespoons coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon cumin. Coarsely grind this mixture and season with salt and pepper. This is dukkah. Store in jar in cupboard. 

Grind the rest of the almonds for longer until finely ground.

3. Bulgur and chicken

15 minutes

Pour over the bulgur twice its volume of boiling salted water. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Allow to swell for 10 minutes. Or follow the instructions on the packet if different, slightly reducing the cooking time. Allow to cool. Store in container in refrigerator.

Cut the chicken into strips. Brown in the oil over a high heat, add 1 rounded teaspoon of cumin, lower the heat to finish the cooking. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Store in container in refrigerator.

4. Gratin

20 minutes

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas 4). Rub an oven dish with half a garlic clove.

Alternate in the dish half of the tomato slices and two-thirds of the courgette slices, adding the chopped onions and interspersing with one-third of the basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil. In another oven dish, or baking tray, arrange side by side the diced courgettes, diced peppers, half the remaining tomatoes and the remaining courgette slices. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper.

Cook both dishes for 40 minutes until everything is cooked through. Allow to cool.

Cover the gratin with cling film and store in freezer.

5. Hummus

10 minutes

Blend half the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon ground almonds, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons fresh coriander and a grated garlic clove. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Store in container in refrigerator.

Put the rest of the chickpeas into the container with the cucumbers and onions. Store in container in refrigerator. 

6. Gazpacho

5 minutes

Put together half of the chilled roast tomatoes, slices of raw tomatoes, raw peppers, pieces of cucumber, half of the remaining basil, 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 grated garlic cloves, 3 onions, salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Store in container in refrigerator.

7. Pasta and green shakshuka

10 minutes

Chop the olives. Store them together with the roast vegetables: peppers, two-thirds of the diced courgettes  and the remaining tomatoes. Store in container in refrigerator.

Blend the slices of roast courgette with the remaining basil leaves. Store with the remaining diced courgette and add 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, 1 tablespoon parsley, the feta cut into cubes and the peas. Store in container in refrigerator.

8. Raspberry clafoutis

15 minutes

Set the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas 6).

Butter an oven dish. Spread out the raspberries, sprinkle with a little sugar and drizzle with 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier. Whisk together the cream, milk, 8 eggs, 2 tablespoons ground almonds, the flour and the sugar. Pour over the fruit. Bake for 30–40 minutes. Allow to cool. Cover with cling film and store in refrigerator.

Eat within 2 to 3 days.

Monday: chicken tabbouleh

chicken tabbouleh recipe

Ready in 10 minutes

Ingredients

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 bunches of mint
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 2 finely chopped spring onions
  • 1/2 lemon (1 tablespoon lemon juice)

Chilled produce

  • 2–3 chicken breasts

General groceries

  • 150g bulgur
  • ½ tin chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Dukkah

  • 75g almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • salt and pepper

Method

For the herbs, chop the remaining mint, parsley and coriander together.

For the vegetables-chicken-bulgur mixture, mix them with the cooked bulgur, add the seasoned cucumber onion-chickpeas mixture and the chicken.

Check the seasoning, sprinkle with a little dukkah, then serve.

Tuesday: gazpacho and hummus

gazpacho recipe

Ready in 10 minutes

Ingredients

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 red peppers
  • bunch of basil
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 spring onions

General groceries

  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Hummus

  • ½ x 400g tin chickpeas
  • 1/2 lemon (2 teaspoons lemon juice)
  • a little lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 1 garlic clove

Dukkah

  • 75g almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • salt and pepper

Method

Toast the bread and rub with the garlic. Blend the gazpacho mixture. Serve with the bread and hummus and sprinkle with dukkah.

Wednesday: green shakshuka with feta

green shakshuka recipe
From Batch Cooking: Prep and Cook Your Weeknight Dinners in Less Than 2 Hours by Keda Black (£15, Hardie Grant), supplied

Ready in 15 minutes, including 10 minutes prep

Ingredients

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 3 courgettes
  • 200g podded peas (can be frozen)
  • bunch of basil
  • 2 tablespoons coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley

Chilled produce

  • 8 eggs
  • 150g feta

General groceries

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

For the shakshuka, pour the shakshuka mixture into a frying pan with 2 tablespoons oil.

For the eggs, as soon as it is hot and is beginning to brown, break in 8 eggs, pushing aside the mixture to allow the egg white to cook through. Serve with bread.

Thursday: summer vegetable pasta

vegetable pasta recipe batch cooking

Ready in 15 minutes, including 5 minutes prep

Ingredients

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 courgettes
  • 3 tomatoes

General groceries

  • 500g pasta
  • 100g pitted olives

Chilled produce

  • 40g parmesan

Method

Cook the pasta. Meanwhile, use a peeler to shave off parmesan strips. Gently reheat the vegetable mixture and mix with the cooked pasta. Serve with the strips of parmesan.

For Friday: defrost the gratin in the refrigerator.

Friday: gratin with sardines

gratin with sardines recipe

Ready in 20 minutes, including 5 minutes prep

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 10 tomatoes
  • 4 courgettes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • bunch of basil

General groceries

  • tinned sardines
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

Reheat the gratin in the oven at 160°C (320°F/gas 2) (you can also eat this cold if you prefer).

Serve with the sardines and bread.

Special treat: raspberry clafoutis

raspberry clafoutis

Already made. Eat within 2 or 3 days.

Ingredients

Fruit, vegetables and herbs

  • 300g raspberries (may be frozen)

Chilled produce

  • 400ml crème fraîche
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 8 eggs
  • 10g butter for the dish

General groceries

  • 75g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar + a little to sprinkle over the raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds

From Batch Cooking: Prep and Cook Your Weeknight Dinners in Less Than 2 Hours by Keda Black (£15, Hardie Grant), out now

Photography: Pierre Javelle

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