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Time Saver “Batch Cooking”, A Key Strategy for Successfully Navigating a Busy Schedule

By Kaori Kay Cheslock, RHNC (Checkout her bio at the bottom of the page Here)

As we prepare to embrace the festive season, many of us are feeling the holiday spirit looming; a whole lot of us are also extra busy trying to complete all the things we wanted to get done before the year ends.


There are only 24 hours a day for everyone (rest assured this doesn’t change with our hours of sunlight dwindling), but it seems most of us could use more time in life whether it be for work, education, spending time with family, friends, a partner, or yourself.

In times like this – with the holiday season approaching, our to-do list mounting, and the constantly changing state of the world impacting our day-to-day routine – when something needs to be cut from the list, we tend to sacrifice time for cooking & eating well… and instead reach for more convenient pre-made processed/ fast food to “save time”. We’ve all been there, and generally it leaves us feeling guilty and/or unhealthy after the festivities are all said and done.

Today we’ll pose the important question: Do you really save time with taking a shortcut with healthy and balanced eating?

For example, what if you had to be in a big drive-through line up? This can be a major time suck. Or have you ever had an experience spilling your fancy latte while driving and had to take care of the mess? Time wasting experience for certain. To add to these examples, how does it feel the night after a long day, coming back home and there is nothing prepared in the fridge? Is it worth the break in routine that often comes with this busy season to “save time” in this important area of our life? We don’t think so.

Alternatively, do you want to feel like you are ahead of the game when you open the fridge after a busy day of doing?

If your answer is yes, we propose this: instead of feeling the rush and stress when meal time approaches, let’s get creative with our food prep to truly save time. By doing so, we can still tackle the to-do list and feel like a healthy living champion by eating foods that provide significant health benefits to our body. It’s definitely possible; a great way to do this is to prepare meals in sizable batches ahead of time.

Now, you might think doing a big grocery shop or spending a few hours of a dedicated day each week to prepare meals consumes too much time – but you’d be surprised how much time you can save by implementing batch meal prep into your routine. We’ve talked about how you could spend more time if you go out to pick-up take-out. On the flip side, if you have a batch meal prepared in the fridge, it takes minimal time and effort to get to “the store” – your kitchen – with no gas wasted. If you plan ahead with the batch cooking method, your meals will be already portioned… all you have is to microwave it (if needed), and Voilà. You have your healthy, cost-friendly, minimal or no garbage, no organic waste meal ready to eat!

And have you ever had a situation where you notice unwashed pots and pans left on the kitchen stove after all the dishes, and think “Ahh…I have more dishes to take care of…!” That is much less likely to happen if you dedicate one day of the week for meal preparation for the week ahead. By having food prepared in a large batch, you will minimize the dishes created with meal prep overall.

As a final note (if you aren’t convinced that batch cooking is a worthwhile strategy to try) eating out often is expensive for many reasons – consider the travel/waiting time (as they say, time is money!), gas, and over-priced simple sandwiches and sides (for example). Plus the chances are the take-out food has an unnecessary amount of calories and additives. Expensive for your health in the long term.  And if you try to stay healthy/ nutrient dense with convenience food (this can be done), you will likely have to go online checking their menu to check the nutrient information. How long does this digging take? If you were to make the food yourself, you can always control how much of each ingredient you are using! Keep it simple to save time.

Today we have a recipe to share using this batch cooking method.

A warm winter meal salad recipe that is perfect for this cozy season.

We decided to introduce cost-friendly and seasonal vegetables for this recipe, as they should be easy to find at your local grocery store this fall/ winter.

Now, when we think of salad, we generally think of raw vegetables. But this doesn’t have to be the case! There are benefits to consuming both raw and cooked veggies. While fresh raw vegetables tend to retain vitamins and minerals better than processed ones, when cooked some vegetables are more beneficial – offering more nutrition. Brussel sprouts are key examples here, due to their content of “Glucosinolates”. This compound breaks down into cancer-fighting compounds when cooked, and cooking Brussel sprouts (and cruciferous veggies in general) will ease digestion as well – helping prevent bloating and gas that many people are afraid of when eating these vegetables.

Potatoes are another good example of a vegetable which should be cooked. Specifically this is because the green part of potatoes can contain a high concentration of the toxin solanine. Raw potatoes also have anti-nutrients which are substances that prevent your body from absorbing vitamins and minerals.

In consideration of these facts, we can be more creative and enjoy having all different kinds of vegetables, instead of eating the traditional green salad every day (which is admittedly not so appealing in the cold months).

Let’s take advantage of the season and stay warm by having this warm and hearty salad on the regular!

Warm Winter Salad

Serves 6

Macros per 1 Serving (1/6 of total recipe)

Calories: 255
Protein: 17 g
Fat: 6 g
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Sugar: 9 g
Fibre: 6 g

Ingredients:
  • 3 second spray low calorie cooking oil
  • 340 grams Turnip (~2.5 cups)
  • 240 grams Yam (~2 cups)
  • 340 grams  Brussels Sprouts (~4 cups)
  • 400 grams Shallot Onions (~3.5 cups)
  • 340 grams Extra Firm Tofu (~2.5 cups)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 60 grams Light Ricotta Cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. Cover a deep sided baking dish with foil. Spray with cooking oil and set aside.
  2. Cut all the vegetables and tofu into bite-sized pieces
  3. Transfer all the vegetables to the prepared baking sheet..
  4. Spray vegetables with cooking oils and sprinkle salt & pepper, massage them with clean hands.
  5. Bake the dish for 40-60 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, in an air fryer, spray cooking oil and put tofu cubes, air fry it for 15 minutes with the appropriate setting**.
  7. Once the tofu is cooked, set it aside until the vegetables are ready.
  8. Let the vegetables cool before assembling the salad.
  9. Transfer the tofu and vegetables into a large mixing bowl.
  10. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar and toss the mixture well to fully coat ingredients.
  11. Store it in the fridge – pre-portion into servings to save time. The salad will remain fresh for 5-7 days.
  12. When eating the salad, microwave it for 30-40 seconds. Drizzle ricotta cheese according to the serving size (10 grams of ricotta cheese for each serving).

**Check the setting of your air fryer. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can put tofu on a separate baking sheet and bake it for 20-30 minutes or pan fry the tofu cubes for 10-15 minutes. Turning from time to time so all sides are browned and cooked evenly.