Why We Stopped Weekly Batch Cooking

Have you ever gotten food poisoning or a stomach bug so bad you had to get an IV?

I found myself in this situation for the first and only time two years ago.

What happened?

In 2016, we became avid batch cookers.

It began with our Costco membership. Whoa, 6 pounds of pork for $19. What a steal.

We made enough food to feed an army, as the saying goes.

We thought we were geniuses. Cook once and eat for the rest of the week. (Contrast with how much we cook today.)

For the first month or two, it was paradise. Yes, the Sundays were stressful and hectic. But we barely lifted a finger Monday through Thursday.

Soon, though, the cracks started to show.

First, we struggled to fit everything in the fridge.

Living with housemates, we were those people who took up more than our fair share of fridge and freezer space.

No problem, we got a second freezer which alleviated the problem. Yet, this only contributed to the addiction of buying cheap food that we could freeze and store for months.

Stuff became harder to find. Meals were harder to cook because we had to juggle using up a tangle of freezer-burned meat and vegetables.

Thanks to our collection of giant pots and lunch containers, we were also unfairly taking up extra pantry and cabinet space.

Second, we started cranky fights late Sunday nights.

Batch cooking takes hours:

  • Recipes don’t scale perfectly up.
  • It takes forever to chop everything because we’re making pounds and pounds of food.
  • Dishwashing, even with a dishwasher…don’t get me started.

Finally, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

We might have continued weekly batch cooking if it weren’t for the one morning I had the worst food poisoning/stomach flu.

I couldn’t stop throwing up every hour. It then became every 20 minutes. Eventually, I had to go to urgent care to get anti-nausea medicine because it felt like my body forgot how to stop puking. I got an IV for dehydration too.

The doctor said they don’t bother testing if it was food poisoning or the stomach flu. So, I have no evidence that I got sick from batch cooking.

But with the mountain of stress and hassle, there was ample reason to stop and rethink our strategy.

Switching to a new system

In our new system, we cook almost every day. There’s still some “batching” involved, but it’s more deliberate and focused on fresh foods.

Let’s say it’s Monday.

We cook Monday dinner and take leftovers Tuesday lunch.

On Tuesday night, we will cook enough for Tuesday dinner and leftovers Wednesday lunch. We might even cook a bit more for Thursday lunch (which we freeze).

Then Wednesday evening, we will cook a lot, enough for us to eat Wednesday dinner, Thursday dinner, and often Friday lunch. (Thinking ahead 😉 )

Then we don’t cook until Friday night.

It’s “batch cooking lite.”

Food is fresh and tasty because we cook almost every day.

There’s little to no risk of spoilage. We no longer spend 10 minutes a night Tetrising our containers in the fridge.

And most importantly, it’s less stressful.

We can spend our extra time chatting with each other and unwinding from a busy work day.

The secret to making this work?

Preparing your vegetables and cooking ahead only a day or two!

Have you given up batch cooking? Tell us why in the comments.

Anna looking down chopping vegetables
About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on GarlicDelight.com with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

1 thought on “Why We Stopped Weekly Batch Cooking”

  1. Out of practically and preference (I like to cook complicated things), I guess I’m performing ‘batch cooking’ every weekend. Two nights of cooking make enough food for a few lunches and dinners throughout the week. I’d rather eat a few great things many times than a variety of mediocre things (can of soup, take out burrito, etc.), and rarely have the energy to cook something on Wednesday (and Thursday I don’t get home until late). Maybe a meal planning system would help with the late-in-the-week troubles….

    I can definitely see the food safety risk, and might have suffered some minor issues in the past, but thankfully nothing like you report here.

    I look forward to seeing how it works out.

    Reply

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