Save time & cut down on waste with these healthy batch-cooking ideas packed full of goodness

If you’re looking for the top batch-cooking recipes, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re hoping to save money or time, allocating a batch-cooking power hour (or two) a week could be the perfect way to break a fast-food cycle.

Great for ensuring that you always have a healthy meal to hand, putting all your energies into one big batch can restore some calm to the most chaotic of kitchens and schedules. And, as a bonus, it means that you won’t have to contend with a sink full of dirty pots and pans every evening either – a big win!

Whether done once a week, or even once a month (depending on how ambitious you’re feeling), batch cooking also streamlines your shopping list and makes the most of your freezer space to help cut down on waste and stop surplus ingredients from gathering and festering at the back of your fridge (we’ve all been there).

The investment that pays off; here are the top batch-cooking basics that you need to know, as well as the best must-try batch-cooking recipes for every taste, diet and budget. Better yet, we’ve managed to nab more than just a few celebrity authors. Bring on your new favourite recipes, brimming with flavour

5 healthy batch-cooking recipes to try

1. Melissa Hemsley’s squash and lentil curry with Thai gremolata

2. Dale Pinnock’s aubergine and lentil lasagne

3. Dale Pinnock’s roasted tomato and red pepper soup

4. Brynn McDowell’s braised chicken cacciatore

5. John Whaite’s Eritrean pancakes with lentil stew

But before we get down to the recipe step-by-steps, let’s answer some useful FAQs on batch-cooking recipes.

What meals are good for batch cooking? 

Meals that can be easily scaled up in terms of volume are particularly great batch-cooking contenders. Think soups, stews, pies, casseroles, chillies, curries, lasagnes and lentil-based dishes. Anything with butternut squash or sweet potato also tends to work well. And some of our personal favourites? Sausage casserole, cottage pie and fish pie. Delicious!

What can I batch cook & freeze? 

If you’re planning on putting some of your pre-made meals into the freezer, a word of caution – not all foods freeze well. Examples include hard-boiled eggs and vegetables that have a high water content, such as lettuce and cucumber. Something to be mindful of before you bring out those freezer bags.

How do I store my batch cooking recipes?

It’s also worthwhile, in our experience, to invest in some good quality airtight containers to portion up your meals in. Don’t forget to label them though because when frozen, everything tends to look the same. And our ultimate top tip? To keep the risk of a dodgy stomach to a minimum, always follow Food Standards Agency guidelines on how to store, defrost and reheat food – don’t say we didn’t warn you.

 What can I batch cook for lunch?

Sitting down to eat your “here’s one I made earlier” meal for lunch? You’ve every right to feel smug – it’s an accomplished feeling! To help get your creative culinary juices flowing, we’ve curated five great batch-cooking meal ideas from some of our favourite healthy eating authors, from the super simple and speedy, to the more adventurous slow-cooked dishes.

Whether it’s nourishing curries or Mediterranean Diet recipes, these will have you looking forward to your lunch hour even more. Simply make in bulk, dish up into individual portions and freeze. Tantalised taste buds, here we come. 

Scroll on for our must-have batch-cooking recipes to try.

For a vegetarian recipe

Melissa Hemsley’s squash and lentil curry with Thai gremolata

• Vegetarian

• Serves six

"This makes a huge batch, perfect for freezing portions for a rainy day," says Melissa. "The flavour bomb comes from the topping, which is inspired by Italian gremolata, but here it’s made Thai style with lime, basil and coriander. Don’t skip it!"


1 tbsp ground cumin or 1 tsp seeds 

1 tbsp ground coriander or 1 tsp seeds 

tsp ground turmeric 

2 tbsp ghee or oil 

1 large butternut squash (about 1.2kg) 

400g split red lentils, rinsed 

400ml tin full-fat coconut milk 1.5 litres vegetable stock

2½ tbsp tamari 

Sea salt 

Ingredients for the curry paste

4 garlic cloves 

2 onions, halved, or 3 shallots 

1 lemongrass stalk or peel from 1/2 lemon (no white pith)

1-2 fresh chillies or chilli flakes, to taste 

1 thumb of ginger, roughly chopped

Ingredients for the Thai gremolata

1 handful of peanuts or cashews 

2 garlic cloves 

Juice and zest of 2 limes 

1–2 fresh chillies, to taste, seeds included if you like 

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

1 big handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stems 

1 big handful of fresh basil or Thai basil, leaves and stems, plus a little mint if you like (leaves only for the mint)


1. Toast the peanuts or cashews for the gremolata for a minute in a large, deep-sided saucepan until golden and set aside.

2. Make the curry paste by blitzing the garlic, onion, lemongrass, chilli and ginger in a food processor – it doesn’t need to be totally smooth. 

3. Add the spices to the pan you used for the nuts and let them toast for a minute, then add the curry paste and the ghee or oil and fry gently for five minutes. 

4. Meanwhile chop the squash into 2cm chunks. I don’t bother peeling it, just remove the seeds, which you can toast or roast for another recipe. 

5. Add the squash and lentils to the pan with the coconut milk and stock. Give it a stir, then pop a lid on and let simmer over a medium heat for about 25 minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir every five minutes or so, being careful that the lentils don’t catch on the bottom of the pan, and adding more liquid if it looks dry or if you like it soupier. Season with tamari and a little salt. 

Tip: swap the squash for other root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, swede or celeriac. And if you can’t find lemongrass easily, buy extra and keep it in the freezer.

Waste not: this gremolata is a great excuse to use up coriander and basil stems, as well as half a leftover onion or scraps of spring onions or chives. If you don’t use it all here, it’s great on roast veg, or in a noodle stir fry.

Extracted from Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press)

Photography by Philippa Langley

For a vegan recipe

Try: Dale Pinnock’s aubergine and lentil lasagne

• Vegan

• Serves four

"This is a lower-carbohydrate version of the old classic," says Dale. "I have left out a white sauce here, as many of the recipes for a vegan white sauce are pretty fiddly. By all means, if you find one, feel free to top this dish with it. I have also left the option of a vegan cheese open. In an ideal world, a good-quality nut-based cheese would be perfect, but if this is hard to find, use whatever you can get in your local supermarket or health-food store."


1 large red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Olive oil, for sautéing

1 large courgette, diced

400g can green lentils or Puy lentils, drained

400g tomato passata

2 tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)

2 aubergines, sliced lengthways into 5mm (¼in) slices

100g vegan cheese, torn or crumbled


Rocket salad, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

2. In a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, along with a good pinch of salt, for about 10 minutes until softened.

3. Add the courgette and continue to sauté for another four to five minutes until it begins to soften.

4. Add the lentils, passata and mixed herbs, if using. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes until the mixture has reduced down. What you are aiming for is a thick, rich ragu sauce, similar to what you’d find in a traditional lasagne.

5. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, gently fry the aubergine slices in a small amount of olive oil for five minutes on each side until softened.

6. Spoon a layer of the lentil ragu into the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Cover with some of the aubergine slices. Repeat until the lentils and the aubergine slices are used up. Top with the vegan cheese, then bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown at the edges and the cheese is bubbling.

7. Serve with rocket salad.

Extracted from The Medicinal Chef: Plant-based Diet by Dale Pinnock (Hamlyn)

Photography by Faith Mason

For an easy recipe

Try: Dale Pinnock’s roasted tomato and red pepper soup

• Vegan

• Serves four

"This simple soup is packed to the hilt with flavour," says Dale. "You could really throw together any vegetables here, but this classic combo works the best, in my opinion."


1 large red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 large red peppers, cored, deseeded and chopped

5-6 large plum tomatoes, quartered

Olive oil, for drizzling

200-300ml vegetable stock

Salt and black pepper

For the garnish (optional)

Handful of basil

Pinch of red chilli flakes


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. 

2. Place the onion, garlic, red peppers and tomatoes in a roasting tin and drizzle with a little olive oil.

3. Season with salt and black pepper and toss together well. Roast for about 30 minutes until all the ingredients have softened. Make sure you stir everything a couple of times during roasting. The tomatoes will break down a great deal during this process, creating a rich sauce. 

4. Transfer the roasted veg to a blender and add enough stock to come halfway up the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Garnish with basil and red chilli flakes, if using, to serve.

Extracted from The Medicinal Chef: Plant-based Diet by Dale Pinnock (Hamlyn)

Photography by Faith Mason

For a chicken recipe

Try: Brynn McDowell’s braised chicken cacciatore

• Serves four

"There is something so rustic and traditional about this dish," Brynn says. "It’s hearty and full of wonderful, earthy flavours."


454g chicken thighs, bone-in

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 red pepper, diced

227g mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp tomato paste

794g can crushed tomatoes, drained

2 (Roma) tomatoes, cut in half

160ml red wine

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp dried thyme

170g can black olives, pitted


1. Lightly season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Then, in a large Dutch oven or oven-proof pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Once warm, add the chicken thighs and brown for five minutes on each side. Remove them from the skillet and place them on a plate. 

2. In the same skillet, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent – about five to six minutes. Add the garlic and sauté while stirring for 30 to 45 seconds. 

3. Add the bell peppers, mushrooms, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomatoes, red wine, oregano, basil and thyme to the pot. Bring these ingredients to a strong simmer, and add the chicken thighs back to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone. Add the black olives and simmer for 10 minutes.

Reprinted with permission from The Mediterranean Diet Made Easy, by Brynn McDowell (Page Street Publishing Co 2020)

Photography by Brynn McDowell

For the ultimate comfort food recipe

Try: Eritrean pancakes with lentil stew by John Whaite

• Serves four

• Vegetarian

"Before I begin, this recipe has to come with a caveat: this isn’t at all an authentic version, but is rather inspired by the classic Eritrean injera pancakes and lentil stew," says John. "The real version is something I had at the Blue Nile restaurant in Woolwich, which is run by the sweetest lady and her family, when I lived in London. It remains one of the best meals I’ve ever had; it was inexpensive and made with nothing other than love in the heart. In their version, both the stew and bread are cooked and fermented slowly, so this is my express take on the recipe."

Ingredients for the lentil stew

2 tbsp sunflower oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 large carrot, roughly diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground coriander 

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

250g (9oz) dried red lentils

1 litre vegetable stock

A small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, to serve 

Ingredients for the Eritrean pancakes

4 large eggs

125g (4½ oz) wholegrain teff flour

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Fine sea salt


1. For the lentil stew, set a medium saucepan over a high heat and add the oil. Once the pan and oil are hot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and carrot. Fry, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, then add the garlic and spices and fry for a minute. Add the lentils and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

2. Meanwhile, make the pancakes. Put the eggs and 225ml (8fl oz) water into a mixing bowl, then add the flour and one teaspoon of salt, whisking until you have a smooth batter.

3. Set a large, deep-sided frying or sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Rub the pan with a little oil, then add a generous ladleful of the batter, swirling the pan as you do so to evenly coat the base of the pan. Fry until the pancake top is littered with pinprick bubbles, then flip and fry for a few seconds more to cook through. Roll up the pancake and transfer to a plate to keep warm, then continue with the remaining batter.

4. When the lentils are tender, season to taste, top with fresh coriander and serve with the pancakes. The idea is to rip off the pieces of the pancake and scoop the lentil stew into it. 

Extracted from A Flash in the Pan by John Whaite (Kyle Books)

Photography by Nassima Rothacker

The takeaway

While setting time aside to prep and cook might seem a little overwhelming initially, we’ve found that it’s worth it in the long run when it comes to saving money and waste, not to mention taking some of the pressure off during the working week.