If you’re vegetarian, or you live with one (like I do), then it can be tricky to batch cook tasty food that has some variety to it. Here, I share some of my top vegetarian batch cooking tips to help you along the way.
Head to your local fruit and veg store
If you’re trying to feed a family on a budget, then my first tip would be to visit a local grocer. Many highstreets still have one down the highstreet, or within the local market.
If you shop local then you often find that prices are lower and the food is super fresh, meaning that it lasts longer. In my experience, local stores also tend to prepare, peel and chop veg before selling it off in bags; this can be very handy if you’re purchasing something that’s hard to chop like squash.
Get a veg box delivered
I appreciate that it isn’t always possible to visit your local highstreet. If you can’t get there, then consider ordering a vegetable box. These often come straight from the supplier, meaning that they’re very fresh and the produce is seasonal too.
One of the joys of ordering one of these boxes is that you may receive an item you wouldn’t usually cook with. This gives you the opportunity to try out some new recipes. You should be able to get your first couple of boxes at a discounted rate too, you can try the service for less before committing.
I couldn’t believe it when I found out that some fruit and veg is rejected because of its shape. Many supermarkets have tried to combat this blatant food wastage, by offering reduced-rate wonky fruit and veg. If you’re about to partake in a spot of vegetarian batch cooking then make sure you check out the wonky veg on offer. After all, it all tastes the same!
Over recent months, there has been a rise in community supermarkets. Many of them have been set up to help cut food waste and to assist people who may be struggling financially.
If you’re planning to do a big vegetarian bath cooking session then I’d suggest calling into your local community supermarket, as they may be selling off food that will be unfit to eat if left any longer. By purchasing these vegetables, you’re helping to reduce food waste and you’ll find that your veggie haul is much cheaper than usual.
Use your smartphone
There are apps that you can use to rescue food that is about to go off. You should check out Too Good To Go (which companies use to sell off bags of food at the end of the business day).
It is a lottery and you don’t quite know what you’ll end up with, but it’s worth taking a chance if you have a big batch cook planned. Some places do specific grocery bags, so you may well end up with a heap of veg to cook with.
You should also check OLIO which is an app that connects people and allows them to give away food which they don’t need. Veg is something which is often offered on there, so it’s worth checking the app before embarking on a cook up.
Add a veg box to your online shop
Some supermarkets sell vegetable boxes. For example, Morrison’s sells a wonky vegetable selection box for £3. You don’t know what it will contain until it arrives, but that’s part of the fun. Some of the best meals start off as a pile of ingredients that you don’t know what to do with!
Look for the Super 6
Each week, Aldi will greatly reduce the price of six vegetables. However, I’ve noticed that other supermarkets tend to do the same. For example, Tesco’s price match Aldi; so if Aldi has an item in the Super 6 then Tesco’s will make sure they discount a comparable item. Jack’s Supermarket also has a weekly Fresh 5 offer. So before you decide what you’re going to cook, have a look at your supermarket’s weekly offers.
Include some meat substitutes
If you’re cooking veggie food, then make sure you include pulses, grains and other meat alternatives. Quorn, Linda McCartney and the supermarkets themselves have an impressive range. By including these types of items, you can recreate dishes such as pulled pork or a fish goujon wrap. Nothing is out of bounds.
Dedicate an afternoon to cooking
One of my top vegetarian batch cooking tips is to dedicate some time to it! Box off an afternoon and spend that time prepping, cooking and boxing up. You’ll find that you get more done if you have a set amount of time to complete it. This will also mean that you have some time to gather your ingredients and to have a think about what you want to make.
Utilise your appliances
When batch cooking, I always utilise the appliances that I have, including my slow cooker. I find that it cooks my veg perfectly and that meals always come out tasting great. I make the best sweet potato and peanut butter stew. You should absolutely add that to your list of recipes to batch cook!
Do a yellow sticker haul
One of my top vegetarian batch cooking tips would be to do a yellow sticker haul before starting to cook. I have a mixed views on reduced food and I’ve previous written about yellow reduced stickers and the reasons why I don’t actively seek Whoopsies out. However, as I’m sure any seasoned reduced raider would agree, it’s the meat that’s often fought over, whilst bags of onions, tomatoes and potatoes often go unsold. With that in mind, if you are wanting to create some meals, you should definitely check out the reduced items. Not only will it save on waste, but it will help your pocket too!
If you want to prepare vegetarian meals affordably, then you need to make sure that your recipes are seasonal. There’s no point making a butternut squash curry if you can’t readily get your hands on squash in March. So look at what’s plentiful in the supermarkets and base your recipes around that information.
Consult your spreadsheet
Before you start cooking, you need to decide what you’re making. If you’re looking for some inspiration, then create a list of healthy meal ideas that you can refer back to again and again.
I’m a big advocate for vegetarian cooking, as I think it’s great for your health, the environment and your bank balance. With that in mind, I’ve wanted to come up with a list of vegetarian batch cooking tips for a while, as I do think it differs slightly from a cooking session that involves meat.
This article isn’t strictly for vegetarians though. Many people partake in meatless Monday, or look to reduce their overall meat intake. If that’s you, then I hope that this post has provided you with some inspiration as well.
If you found this article useful, then you should check out my 11 top meal planning tips for busy families.