Batch cooking always feels like more of a winter activity, ideally accompanied by Spotify and a large glass of red, but chatting to our friend Jo has been reminding me lately of all the ways to update it for the summer months.
After hitting a bit of a cooking plateau a month or so ago Jo decided to start batch cooking different sorts of things to make up “bowl” lunches rather than the curries, stews and chillies that permeate a winter batch session. Spending a few hours on Sunday afternoon prepping a variety of options meant she could pick and choose bits she fancied that day and wasn’t as bored by the same old choices as she had been before. Useful inspiration for me so I thought it may help other people experiencing the same recipe rut.
Here are a few of Jo’s favourites and a couple of other ideas to form your rotating lunch/easy dinner plan.
Absolutely anything you have in the fridge will do, but here are a few combos for ideas. Simply chop chunkily, season accordingly and roast in the oven for 25 – 45 minutes depending on the size and type of veggies.
- Carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash with cinnamon and paprika
- Red pepper, courgette and aubergine with oregano and basil
- Fennel, tomato and leek with thyme
- Beetroot, carrot and potato with rosemary and honey
Any of these taste just as good cold so make the perfect addition to a salad lunch bowl.
An oldie but a fave, this works with just about everything and is great with added pomegranates, goji berries and/or avocado.
- Bag of kale, stalks removed
- 1tbsp tahini
- 1tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
All you need to do is mix the dressing ingredients together (I use a mug and a fork) and massage into the kale until it starts to wilt. Unlike its cousin (in my head) spinach, this keeps really well so will last most of the week for lunch combos.
If you eat meat and/or fish, you could always batch these up too to save yourself precious crashing on the sofa time during the week.
Chicken or turkey breasts, fillets of salmon, cod, trout or tuna – all of these can be easily oven baked wrapped in foil for 15 (thinner fish fillets) to 30 minutes seasoned as you like it. Chaz does a mean soy and agave salmon, you meat lovers could try a lemon and thyme combo in your poultry parcels (or please feel free to recommend more options in the comments as this isn’t exactly my area of expertise) and you could add some veg in with it too.
Kept sealed in Tupperware in the fridge, these will last a good few days if cooked fresh for desk lunches and can be eaten cold either artfully placed on top or shredded to mingle with your chosen salad components.
This is one of those mega simple things I sometimes forget to do but once again Jo reminded me. She chops up cucumber, cherry tomatoes and red peppers, seasons and keeps in Tupperware in the fridge all week to have as a side with everything. Not a fan of chopping, Jo likes hers chunky, you could do it tiny if you wanted to/could be bothered. This would also be great with a squeeze of lemon or lime, some chilli flakes, chopped fresh mint or basil.
Grab a grain
Cooking up a big pan of brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, pearl barley, bulgur wheat or any other grain at the weekend will set you up with a good foundation for many a midweek meal. I add bouillon stock or various combinations or herbs, apple cider vinegar and sea salt to mine during cooking (Jak swore he didn’t like rice until he tried it with a bit of bouillon added, now I have almost graduated to those giant sacks on the World Foods aisle), then put some fresh lime or lemon in the Tupperware to squeeze over when I come to eat it. I actually prefer most of these cold so they work well for summer.
Dress it up
Whizzing up a weekend dressing to see you through the week is a good way to add an extra zing to those salads (nothing worse than a bland salad). Store in old jam, olive or sun-dried tomato jars and you can easily transport to work to serve, no one likes a soggy salad. I have been meaning to try the one in the pic above for ages because I’m a not-so-secret Goop fan and I love Mindy Kaling so if it gets her seal of approval it must be good.
I’ve displayed the image as large as poss so you can have a good nosey, if this works out I may finally invest in the It’s All Good cookbook I’ve been threatening to purchase for yonks.
Gingery buckwheat granola
As you can see above I somehow burnt this the first and only time I tried it despite staring into the oven the entire time to avoid such an episode, so I’m planning to make it again this weekend to satisfy my worrying granola obsession which is currently costing me far too much in fancy boxes of the good stuff.
This recipe is modified from Deliciously Ella’s. At first I refused to accept baking raw buckwheat would render it edible, but trust me it works.
Makes one big container.
- 2 cups of oats (220g
- 1 cup of uncooked buckwheat groats (280g)
- 1 cup of sunflower seeds (200g)
- 1 cup of pumpkin seeds (200g)
- 1 and a ½ cups of pitted dates (300g)
- 6 tablespoons of coconut oil
- 4 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
- A piece of ginger (20g) – I actually just used a tbsp of ground ginger powder which worked for me
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- Place the oats, buckwheat and seeds into a large mixing bowl and stir well
- Add the dates and coconut oil into a pan and simmer for five minutes, until the dates are nice and soft
- While the dates cook peel the ginger and grate it onto a plate, once it’s grated mix it into the date pan
- When the dates are soft place them (including the melted coconut oil and ginger) into a blender with the raw cacao powder and blend until smooth. Then pour the mix over the buckwheat, oat and seed mix and stir well to coat
- Grease one large or two medium baking trays with coconut oil before spreading the mix out
- Place the baking trays in the oven and bake for about forty five minutes. After fifteen minutes remove the trays from the oven and stir everything well so that the top doesn’t burn, then keep doing this every five to ten minutes for the rest of the time it’s in the oven.
- Once it’s nice and crispy, but not burnt, remove from the oven and allow it to cool before placing it in an airtight container. It will keep for about a month if you’re that restrained; mine lasted less than a week.
A fail-safe fridge staple, I think I’ve made this most weeks for the past year.
- 2 tins of chickpeas, drained
- 2tbsp tahini
- Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
- 1tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed, or a tsp of lazy garlic (you know I’m that lazy)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup water
Just throw everything into the food processor and whizz until smooth. I rarely use a recipe nowadays, just keep tasting until it’s right so use that as a base to go with your tastebuds. God bless the chickpea!
Spicy crispy chickpeas
These are great for snacking, as a side or part of your bowl of goodness. I first tried them at the Assheton Arms in Downham, near Clitheroe, with piri piri swordfish and citrusy quinoa and I couldn’t wait to try them myself. My subsequent attempts are pictured above. Any spice mix would work.
- 1 tin of cooked chickpeas
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp sea salt
- Black pepper (however much you like)
- 1tsp chilli powder
- 1tsp paprika
- Half a tsp teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 150
- Pat chickpeas dry between two pieces of kitchen roll to remove loose skins
- Pour chickpeas on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Use your hands or a spoon to coat the chickpeas. In a small bowl, combine the seasonings.
- Sprinkle the mixture onto the chickpeas and toss to coat. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the chickpeas at the 15 minute mark. I bake mine until they’re crispy but you can remove earlier if you like.