Learn the differences between meal prep and batch cooking and discover which method works best for you. Understand the pros and cons of each approach and get tips for making meal planning and prep more efficient and effective.
The only way to stay healthy is to eat healthy. And in the current times, this is one of the biggest challenges. No wonder words like ‘meal kitting’, ‘meal prep’, ‘batch cooking’ and ‘meal planning’ are generating buzz. These cooking methodologies simplify healthy eating by organizing cooking processes and saving people a lot of time.
In this article, we talk about batch cooking and meal prep. The two terms are often used interchangeably but they refer to different things. While both suggest that you plan your meals for a week or so, batch cooking goes a step ahead and requires you to cook them all in one go.
Both are great strategies for saving time and money but you need to figure out which one suits your needs better. Here’s an in-depth look at both batch cooking and meal prep covering their pros and cons.
Read our blog - Is Batch Cooking a good fit for your lifestyle?
Meal prep is a way to organize daily cooking that requires you to plan and prepare for your meals in advance. This way, your ingredients are portioned, prepared and ready to whip up a quick meal.
When meal prepping, you are required to select the recipes you would like to have throughout the week, list their ingredients and purchase them in the right quantities. Then, you need to portion and prepare them according to the recipes. This involves cutting vegetables. marinating proteins, making sauces and boiling pasta or noodles.
Thus, meal prep saves you a lot of time during mealtimes. All you need to do is toss in the already prepared ingredients in a pan and viola! A healthy delicious meal is ready in minutes.
There is one other way to meal prep. That is, going a step further from preparing ingredients and cooking whole meals.
Batch cooking is a meal prep method that involves pre-cooking large quantities of food for consumption over the next few days. This method is typically done over the weekend, when you have more time available. The cooked food is then refrigerated or frozen and can be reheated during mealtimes throughout the week.
The benefits of batch cooking include saving time throughout the week, reducing food waste, and having a variety of homemade meals on hand. This method is particularly useful for busy individuals, families, or those who want to eat more home-cooked meals.
With batch cooking, you can prepare a variety of dishes such as casseroles, soups, stews, and more, that can be easily reheated in a matter of minutes. This allows you to enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal without the time and effort required to prepare one from scratch every day.
Additionally, Batch cooking also allows you to plan your meals in advance, which can help you stick to a healthy diet and avoid last-minute takeout or fast food. All in all, Batch cooking is an efficient and convenient way to enjoy home-cooked meals throughout the week without having to spend hours in the kitchen every day.
Are you a young adult, scouring the web for a reliable everyday cooking guide? We wrote something that you should definitely check out - The Young Adult's Guide To Cooking
Meal prep, on the other hand, is the process of preparing and planning meals in advance. It can include a variety of tasks such as grocery shopping, portioning out ingredients, and cooking or preparing specific components of meals. Meal prepping can be done on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis depending on an individual's preference.
The main goal of meal prepping is to have all the components of a meal ready to go, so that you can quickly assemble and cook them when you're ready to eat. It allows for greater control over portion sizes, and the flexibility to plan for specific dietary needs or preferences. Meal prepping is a great option for those who want to eat healthy, homemade meals, but may not have the time to cook from scratch every day.
One of the main differences between batch cooking and meal prepping is that batch cooking is focused on pre-cooking and storing complete meals, while meal prepping is focused on preparing and storing individual components of meals that can be quickly assembled later. While both methods require planning and purchasing ingredients in bulk, batch cooking is more suited for those who want to have a variety of complete meals ready to go, while meal prepping is better for those who want more control over the final outcome of their meals.
To better gauge their essence, you must understand the values they bring to the table along with their limitations.
The only reason why most health-conscious youngsters can’t eat nutritious food is their busy lifestyles. Meal prep offers you a way around it by organizing meals; thus allowing you to eat home-cooked food everyday.
Meal preppers do not have to decide what to eat on an empty stomach or brace themselves for cooking after a long day. They can follow their laid-out schedules and whip themselves up a satisfying meal within minutes.
When you meal prep, you take charge of what and how much to purchase, prepare and cook. So, there are fewer chances of any extra food lying unattended in the pantry only to expire in a few weeks. This way, you consume consciously and do your part towards sustainability.
Now that you are not wasting food or eating out as much, you save money. Besides, when meal prepping, you purchase ingredients in bulk, which is cheaper and more economical in the long run.
When cravings strike on leisurely evenings, it is hard to resist the temptation and stick to an eating schedule that you have outlined at the beginning of the week. So, if you are planning to meal prep, do not forget to make allowances for take-outs.
Planning, purchasing and prepping meals need a lot of time. Setting aside these many hours each week is not viable for everyone.
It takes time to get the hang of planning and portioning especially if you are new to meal prepping. So, during the initial few weeks, you might find yourself hungry at the end of the meal and/or run out of prepared food earlier than you had expected.
Looking for easy recipes that go well with minimal meal prep? We've a few articles you may find useful:
10 Delicious Recipes Made With Lunch Meat
20 Delicious Vegan Asian Recipes
Salvage Your Leftovers With These Quick Fix Recipes
10 Delicious Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan Recipes
Since batch cooking is just another way to meal prep, it has similar benefits. It allows you to eat healthy home-cooked meals daily on a budget, thus reducing the temptation for take-outs and helping you achieve your health goals.
Batch cooking requires you to cook all the meals in one go and then refrigerate them. So, you can put a large pot of curry to simmer while engaging in other chores. Also, during mealtimes, all you need to do is heat the food and serve. Thus, batch cooking saves you more time and energy than meal prep.
Just like meal prep, batch cooking requires you to commit to an eating schedule that is hard to follow. It requires you to take a good number of hours out every week (often even more than meal prep) and it might be a long time before you get the hang of planning and portion preparation.
Many recipes, potentially including your favorites, cannot be precooked and refrigerated as their textures and balance of flavors would not allow that. So, batch cooking limits the variety of foods you can have thus being the recipe for monotony.
There is a good deal of wastage while you learn how to batch cook and it adds to your monthly expenses. Besides, you need to invest in huge cooking and storage vessels. So, this meal prep method requires a large investment to get started.
Cooked food loses its taste with each passing day as flavors deplete. Besides, alternate heat and refrigeration change its texture. So, by the time you are on your third or fourth serving, you might not like your meals.
Cooling and reheating food leads to loss of its nutritional value over time. It also aids microbial growth, thus causing it to spoil. No wonder, there have been several reported cases of food poisoning among batch cookers, even the most experienced ones.
Both meal prepping and batch cooking are efficient ways to have warm, home-cooked meals on busy mornings and evenings. However, meal prepping is a superior system to batch cooking. Batch cooking may save time, but it comes at the cost of losing taste, quality, and nutritional value. Additionally, pre-cooked meals can spoil and compromise your health. The drawbacks of batch cooking outweigh the benefits and often fail to provide healthy, tasty meals every day. In contrast, meal prepping organizes your eating schedule with no such limitations. It allows you to cook fresh and delicious meals that take only slightly longer to prepare than pre-cooked meals. This method also offers variety as recipes can be planned and prepared ahead of time.
You can make different meals for different days of the week, whereas batch cooking typically involves making the same dish multiple times.
You can make individual portions of each meal, rather than having to eat the same dish multiple times.
Instead of spending hours cooking multiple batches of the same dish, you can prepare a variety of meals quickly and easily.
You can buy ingredients in bulk and use them to make multiple meals, rather than having to buy large quantities of the same ingredients.
Preparing your own meals reduces packaging waste and can reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding takeout or processed meals.
While meal prep helps you streamline the process of cooking, Nymble goes a step further and ‘does’ the actual cooking. It automates the entire cooking process so all you have to do is load the prepped ingredients and let Nymble prepare you a meal while you go about your day as usual. Besides, it updates you in real-time through app notifications when done.
Moreover, Nymble aids meal planning by giving you access to 500+ ready-to-eat recipes, spanning every cuisine and diet. It lets you filter recipes based on preferences, diet, calories, and ingredients of choice, or even study detailed nutritional information for every recipe you cook. We recognized the need to automate the process of cooking in itself, since people are busier than ever before, and often resort to an unhealthy diet in the process. But at the same time, we chose to empower users to make their own food decisions, by giving them the ability of customizing, curating, tracking and reviewing all meals made by the cooking robot.
With Nymble in your kitchen, you can start your day by picking the recipes you'd like to try. After that, all you have to do is set out a reasonable and time-efficient meal-prep routine. Once the veggies, herbs, spices and all the other ingredients are ready, all that's needful is for you to load them onto your cooking robot's assorted sections and tap 'cook' to begin the cooking process. And in no more than 40 minutes, your meal will be hot and ready! Having this smart kitchen appliance makes your daily meal-planning process extremely efficient, but also gives you the gift of time which you can use to focus on more pressing responsibilities.
Watch how Nymble cooks your food (Recipe being made in this video: Oyster Mushroom Noodles)
Not to mention, Nymble's menu includes some of your favourite MasterChef recipes as well!
Interested to learn more about Nymble's journey? Read:
Is it time to automate cooking at home?
5 Simple Ways a Kitchen Robot can make you a great cook
Here's what Nymble users have to say about having a cooking robot to take care of their daily meals:
Both meal prepping and batch cooking have their own advantages and limitations. They have proven to be healthy choices for many households and not-so-suitable for others. So, to assess which cooking method works well for you, you must first understand your meal requirements in terms of health goals, dietary restrictions, lifestyle and food preferences. Then, weigh both sides evenly before deciding on a system that suits you. Remember to experiment with these and other cooking styles in the process; it is important to get your hands dirty for the best results!