Cook once, eat all week with these easy batch cooking recipes

These might just change your life. (Or just make meal prep a whole lot easier.)

Making meals ahead of time and freezing them for later will ensure you’ve got non-perishable meals on hand should you encounter a busy week at work or find your fridge running—gasp!—a little low on fresh foods.

You can give just about any dish the freezer treatment just as long as you take the right food safety precautions, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Some general rules of thumb:

  • Freeze items sooner rather than later—there’s no need to wait for freshly cooked items to cool on the countertop or fridge.

  • Rewrap frozen foods if packaging is torn or opened.

  • Cut away freezer-burned areas before eating. (Freezer burn doesn’t make food unsafe; it’ll just make it dry.)

  • Thaw frozen foods in the fridge, where it can slowly defrost or in cold water, or using your microwave’s defrost setting.

Batch cooking shopping list

We recommend getting some rice, tortillas, romaine lettuce, fresh vegetables, canned beans, eggs, and frozen, cooked shrimp to mix and match with these recipes.

Soup

Enjoy as a starter, a mid-afternoon snack, or even a main meal by stirring in some canned black beans or cooked shrimp. Pack for lunch in a thermos with some of the chicken, or do the steak and veggies on the side with a tortilla to wrap them up.

Chicken

Double the chicken recipe and use it for more than just nachos. Think lettuce wraps, quesadillas, fajitas, or over a baked potato and roasted veggies.

Steak and veggies

Since you have the oven space, prep two sheet pans worth of this recipe. Turn extras into steak sandwiches or soft tacos, or chop all the ingredients to use as an omelet or frittata.

Sauces

Use them with both the steak and chicken recipes and as a crudite dip, a sandwich topper, a sauce for nachos, or in a rice bowl.To make a bowl, layer cooked rice in a deep dish, top with torn lettuce, chicken or steak, and then spoon on pico de gallo and some of the creamy yogurt sauce.