Batch Cooking for Busy People

Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

This post was written by Lisa Markley, MS, RDN, who, along with Jill, co-authored the #1 best selling Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

We all want to eat healthier, but many of my clients and students struggle with figuring out what on earth to put on the table after a long day of work. Batch cooking (aka meal prepping or cooking in bulk) is a great solution that can help lessen the conundrum of “what’s for dinner?”

Investing a few hours one or two days per week to batch cook can keep you from having to cook every single day. Doing a little planning ahead will also ease your mind and keep you on track and consistent with reaching your health and wellness goals, making it much less likely you’ll end up in the drive-through or deli counter.

[Our cookbook, The Essential Thyroid Cookbook, has a number of recipes that can be used for batch cooking. Be sure to read the Cook’s notes in many of the recipes for tips on how to freeze or store recipes.] 

Batch cooking doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. 

Start by thinking about the times during the week that you feel most in a pinch and begin there. For many, mornings are the hardest, so having something quick and easy to reheat or grab-and-go is a necessity. For others, the thought of cooking dinner every night is exhausting. 

Once you get a few staples items that you like in rotation, it will become more routine, and you can continue to add to your repertoire. It’s great to diversify your food and meal choices throughout the day and week by mixing and matching staple ingredients in new and different ways. 

Here are several ideas for some staple dishes that can help you feel more prepared. You unique preferences, food sensitivities, and dietary protocols should be taken into account, of course!


  • Hardboiled eggs. Boil the eggs ahead of time and enjoy with simple avocado toast.
  • Baked sweet potato. Bake a few sweet potatoes, then reheat and top with an egg for a satisfying breakfast.
  • Salmon and spinach scramble. Bake a large piece of salmon, then for breakfast, shred and fold into your scrambled eggs with wilted spinach.
  • Overnight oatmeal. Soak enough oats to make a double or triple batch overnight in water or plant-based milk. This will reduce its cooking time by half, which is a huge time-saver, particularly for steel-cut oats. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg, and top with berries and nuts. Or make a savory version topped with wilted garlicky sautéed spinach and a cooked egg.
  • Refrigerator surprise frittata. A frittata is like quiche, but without the crust. Make this simple egg dish, incorporating any colorful vegetables you need to use up. A few good combos: potato, kale, and leek, or garlic, tomato, spinach, and mushroom.
  • Whole grain gluten-free pancakes. Make a double or triple batch ahead, then store in the freezer. Reheat in a toaster oven and top with a blend of maple syrup and almond butter.
  • Smoothie freezer packs. Decrease the time it takes in the morning to throw together a smoothie by making smoothie freezer packs in advance. Simply take your favorite individual fruits/veggies and combine them into delicious blends in a freezer bag. When ready, empty contents of bag into blender, add liquid of choice (milk, plant-milk, yogurt, water, coconut water) and blend.


  • Batch cook chicken, fish, or grassfed beef to be incorporated into sandwiches, wraps, soups, or salads. Cooked animal proteins can be stored safely in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Plain whole grains like quinoa, black or brown rice, or millet make a great base for any meal. Cook as directed, then spread out on a baking sheet to cool completely. Transfer to a storage container and store in fridge for up to 5 days. Incorporate into hot cereal, salads, soups, or side dishes and season with a dressing or sauce.
  • Homemade soups are filling, hearty, and great as leftovers, and most can be frozen.     
  • Roasted vegetables make a great side dish. Dice most any vegetable into bite-sized pieces, toss in olive oil, and roast in the oven at 400°F until fork tender. Tender vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms take about 15-20 minutes. Denser, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, and winter squash can take 35-45 minutes.
  • Sauces, dips, and spreads elevate the flavor of any dish, so they’re essential to have on hand.
    • Make double or triple batch (about ½ - 1 cup) of a homemade vinaigrette recipe and store in fridge for 2-4 weeks. Drizzle over salads or cooked vegetables.
    • Homemade hummus can be used as a dip for fresh-cut vegetables and whole grain gluten-free crackers or as a spread on a sandwich or wrap.
    • Lemon tahini sauce is a rich, creamy sauce that adds Mediterranean flair when drizzled on roasted vegetables or tossed salads.
    • Pesto can be tossed with cooked vegetables or pasta, spread on whole grain gluten-free crackers or toast, dolloped onto soup, or tossed with baked spaghetti squash. It’s easy to freeze in an ice cube tray or small container – just leave ½” or so at the top for it to expand while it freezes.
    • Homemade marinara elevates pasta night and extra can be stored in the freezer – just leave ½” or so at the top for it to expand while it freezes.


  • Make a pan of toasted nuts or seeds to satisfy cravings for a crunchy snack. Mix with dried fruit to make your own homemade trail mix.
  • Prepare freshly cut or portable vegetables portioned into small containers for easy grab-and-go. Some great options include cherry tomatoes, baby bell peppers, or cut vegetables like carrots, jicama, cucumbers, and celery.
  • Mini-muffins made from gluten-free whole grain or nut-based flours (almond, hazelnut) make a healthy treat.
  • Hard-boiled eggs

A few of my favorite recipe resources:


Posted by Healthful Elements Staff

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