Tag Archives: batch cooking

The Instant Pot: Great tool for a functional health protocol

733 instant potThe beauty of functional medicine is it puts your health journey in your hands. The curse of functional medicine and nutrition is that, compared to popping a pill, eating healthy takes more time, which can feel stressful. Enter the Instant Pot, a relatively new kitchen appliance that is simple to use, makes it easy to stick to a whole foods diet, and takes a lot of stress out of cooking when your schedule is hectic.

What makes the Instant Pot so great when you’re following a functional health protocol?

The Instant Pot’s success is in its multiple features and that it produces consistent results. The Instant Pot sautés, foolproof pressure cooks, slow cooks, makes yogurt, functions as a rice cooker, and quickly makes bone broths.

It is conducive to big batch meals that will create nutritious leftovers for a few days.

Here are some ways the Instant Pot can help you save time in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition:

Cooks frozen meats. How many times have you forgotten to put the meat out to thaw for dinner? You can put your frozen meat in the Instant Pot and still have stew for dinner.

Cuts down on dishwashing. The Instant Pot allows you to do multiple things in one pot, cutting down on dirty pots and pans. For instance, you can sauté the onions and brown the meat in the same pot you cook your stew in. Additionally, you can cook in Pyrex bowls inside the Instant Pot, which can then be stored in the fridge and used as a lunch container.

Removes the stress of timing. Once you put your meal in the Instant Pot, you press a button for how long it needs to cook and then you can walk away. Not only will it shut itself off, it will also keep food warm for up to 10 hours. It makes reliable hard boiled eggs, and some people even crack their raw eggs into a bowl before cooking for a quick and easy egg salad that doesn’t require peeling egg shells.

Takes the complexity out of pressure cooking. The Instant Pot’s most popular feature is pressure cooking, which radically shortens cooking times. Best of all, it uses a foolproof design so you don’t have to worry about blowing up your kitchen.

It’s a great slow cooker. One of the most satisfying dinners is the one you make in the morning and it’s waiting hot for you in the evening. In addition to cooking quickly, the Instant Pot is a great slow cooker, and you can brown the meat in the same pot.

Makes dairy-free yogurt. Yogurt is a delicious and convenient snack that is hard to give up when you go dairy-free. Dairy-free yogurts are expensive and filled with thickening gums, which are irritating and immune reactive for many people. The Instant Pot is a great dairy-free yogurt maker, using gelatin or chia as a thickener. You will need to order a high-quality brand of coconut milk however, for a good end result.

Easy squash and root veggie cooking. Peeling and chopping squash and root veggies can be a real deterrent to including them in your diet. No worries, just toss them in the Instant Pot whole and then peel, seed, and chop them after they’re cooked. Cooking more fragile vegetables such as broccoli, however, is best left to the stove top steam basket to avoid overcooking.

These are just a few of the ways the Instant Pot can be a great tool to help you manage a chronic health disorder. Don’t be intimidated by it — the learning curve is quick and you’ll soon be able to intuit how to use it. The internet abounds with tips, recipes, and general enthusiasm to get you up to speed.

Overwhelmed by cooking healthy? Try batch cooking!

eat better with batch cooking copy

Does a demanding schedule prevent you from cooking healthy? Are you that overworked parent who’s too tired to feed your family well? Busy lifestyles can send our eating habits down the drain, with our health and nutrition following right behind it. Many common health issues can arise as a result.

The solution? Batch cooking! Batch cooking is preparing multiple meals at once and storing them for later consumption. It’s an organized system to plan, create, and utilize meals, saving you an incredible amount of time, energy and effort.

In two- to three-hour sessions twice a week, you can prepare an entire week’s worth of meals for a family and simply pull them from the fridge or freezer. It takes some organization and planning, but the payoff is well worth it. People report reducing 20 to 30 hours of cooking and cleanup per week down to four or five!

When you come home from a busy day at work, or you just don’t have the pizzazz to make a meal for hungry kids, batch cooking can be your saving grace and save your family’s health and well being.

This set of simple guidelines will help you get started:

Planning your batch cooking menu

Pick simple, nutrient-dense recipes and save unfamiliar, complicated ones for their own special time, and follow these tips.

  • Choose one-pot/skillet/casserole recipes, with a minimum of side dishes.
  • If you’re making a meal that uses protein such as a roast or chicken, make extra to use in simple meals later in the week, such as salads or soups. Plan for every meal of the week, not just dinners.
  • Make a written menu (and grocery list) so that when you pull a meal from the freezer on Tuesday night, you know which side dish goes with it on Wednesday. Also, write down timing for when a meal needs to be pulled from the freezer.
  • Write down all the parts that need preparing so you stay organized.
  • If making all oven dishes, make sure they use the same oven temperature so you can do them all at once and save time.
  • Another option: Choose a variety of meals that use either stove top or oven, so you don’t over crowd either location.

Kitchen logistics for batch cooking

Know what kitchen tools you’ll need and don’t double up on recipes that need them. For example, if you need the food processor for three dishes in one session, it will take more time.

Do you have the amount and type of storage containers that you’ll need? Plan your dishes with fridge/freezer space in mind. Look at which dishes can be frozen for later and which must go in the fridge and be consumed within two days. Coordinate the menu so you prepare some of both.

Putting your apron on

Choose one to two days a week for batch cooking, and dedicate two to three hours for each session. It may take you less time once you develop your own rhythm and familiar recipes. These tips will keep things running efficiently and quickly:

  • If you have young children who demand a lot of attention, try to plan it for while they are out of the house.
  • Start with a clean kitchen; you’ll have what you need at your fingertips, and it’s easier to keep a clear head.
  • To save time, do all the prep work at the beginning, not between dishes.
  • Use a timer; you’re multi-tasking and could forget something.
  • Clean as you go to save time.
  • Package the food in serving-size portions that are easy to defrost or serve from the fridge.
  • Always label each meal with masking tape and a Sharpie marker. You might not recognize a dish once it’s covered in frost!
  • Make sure you’re well fed and hydrated before and during your batch-cook session to help keep your brain sharp and your energy level stable.

Special tips for batch cooking:

Always have a couple extra meals stashed away in the freezer as last-ditch emergency meals to use only when you truly need them – such as when you get back from vacation.

Enlist your kids’ help – it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about nutrition and food prep.

For people who feel overwhelmed in general, batch cooking can seem daunting. However, everyone who batch cooks develops their own rhythm and system with practice, and this set of simple guidelines will help you get started.

Remember, the time you dedicate to planning your menu and making the food for each week will be more than paid off in saving time and energy when you hit the fridge or freezer to rustle up a meal. Most of the effort is in the planning; once you put on that apron, it’s easy to just keep rolling!

If you love the idea of batch cooking but want more information, check out this resource.