Given the choice between doing something and doing nothing, I’d probably choose nothing.
And yet, every day I have to find a way to feed myself. At the end of a busy day, that usually comes down to the simplest, fastest, laziest option.
Unfortunately, more often than not, that simple/fast/lazy option is also SUPER unhealthy and/or expensive: fast food, take-out, or delivery.
How can “home cooked healthy food” even compete with this convenience?
If you’re somebody that’s more familiar with fast food than your oven, and like the IDEA of cooking for yourself but have no clue what you’re doing, fear not!
I’ve created this stupidly simple “Batch Cooked Chicken” video and resource for you.
This article and video assumes you know literally nothing about cooking.
Like, “never opened my oven” level of kitchen knowledge.
I considered calling this article “Batch Cooking for Idiots” but that’s not very nice. And I think you’re pretty smart.
So by the end of today’s article, you’re going to know EXACTLY how to prepare your food for an entire week’s worth of lunch and dinner!
Note: this is a simple chicken option with the laziest ingredients possible. If you know your way around the kitchen, consider checking out some of our more advanced recipes!
Why YOU NEED Batch Cooking in Your Life
Preparing dinner for a single meal takes 20 minutes. Preparing dinner for the week takes 30 minutes and provides you with food allllll week long.
Here’s why batch cooking RULES.
Right now, for each lunch and dinner, we have two choices:
- “Should I prepare a healthy meal? Do I have the ingredients? How much time will this take? Ugh.”
- “Should I hit a button on my phone or drive up to a window and grab food much faster?”
The unhealthy option is the lazier option, and after a long day of work or with screaming kids, it seems like the ONLY option.
However, if we can make ONE single decision at the start of the week to prepare food in a big batch, it eliminates every food decision we need to make the rest of the week. Not only that, but it makes the fast option the healthy option.
After batch cooking, we instead contemplate our meals like this:
- “Should I hit a button on my phone and wait for food? Or should I get in my car and drive to a restaurant? Ugh, too much work.”
- “Should I grab the food in the fridge and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds? Done.”
When you can make the lazier option the healthier one, you’re going to win 9 times out of 10.
So, perfect! Batch cooking is the best.
Of course, it’s much easier said than done.
You’re scared. You’ve never opened your oven. You once managed to set water on fire. And you have no clue what you’re doing.
I got you covered. As a batch-cooking convert, I’m gonna walk you through this step by step. I’m going to tell you exactly what to buy. What to set the oven at.
And give you permission to start.
It doesn’t matter if you screw this up. You can always order food if it doesn’t pan out (zing).
Batch Cooking Basics: What You Need to Buy
Today, we’ll be preparing a week’s worth of chicken, Brussels sprouts (or broccoli) and sweet potatoes.
If you don’t like Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes, I’ll give you an alternative.
WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY:
- 1 bag of frozen chicken tenderloins
- Garlic powder (unless you’re a vampire)
- OR “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning (alternative to salt, pepper and garlic)
- Olive Oil Spray.
- 2 cookie sheets
- Tinfoil (to line the cookie sheet)
- Parchment paper (chicken won’t stick to it, easy clean up)
- Tupperware containers – or Pyrex
- Pot holders (I use these)
Depending on how much of a cooking noob you are, you might have some of this stuff already.
If you don’t, make the investment – everything listed above you can use for the next 12.37 years (approximately). You will never regret having these things in your kitchen.
Where I bought my stuff: Trader Joe’s.
Where you can buy your stuff: ANY grocery store.
Note that I didn’t even include things like knives and cutting boards, because you don’t need them to prepare the chicken above.
If you want to build out your kitchen arsenal, check out our Cooking 101 resource for exact things to buy!
How to Batch Cook Chicken
Watch the stupidly simple video I decided to film last night as I was batch cooking a few trays of chicken.
Here are the steps to remind you:
#1) Pre-heat your oven to 350.
#2) Line your cookie sheets with tinfoil and parchment paper.
#3) Grab your bag of chicken, put the chicken on the trays. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling your spices.
#4) Take your olive oil spray, and spray the topside of each chicken.
#5) Sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (OR “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning).
#6) Flip them over (with tongs or your hands).
#7) Repeat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
#8) Put them in the oven for 25 minutes.
#9) At 13 minutes, check your chicken to make sure things are going well!
#10) At 25 minutes, take your chicken out of the oven. Cut a piece in half, make sure it is uniformly white throughout. No pink gooey chicken!
Put some on a plate to eat, put the rest in a container for the rest of the week!
A serving size is 4 oz (if you have a cheap scale, it can REALLY help with portion sizes). If you want a visual, make a fist. That’s the size of a portion of chicken (it’s probably 2 – 2.5 tenderloin pieces).
What do I eat with the chicken?
Great question. This is just part one of our Batch Cooking series. And having a solid protein source for each meal is the most important part of a healthy nutrition strategy.
So what else goes on the plate?
Let’s chat about some side dish options.
UBER NOOB (ONLY MICROWAVE):
- Frozen microwavable veggies. I like broccoli or cauliflower (with “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on them). Each bag will have instructions on it. All you need to do is pour what you want to grub in a bowl. Microwave for like four to five minutes. Add salt and some type of oil (olive or avocado). Enjoy.
- Fresh bags of microwavable veggies. Same idea as the frozen, but less time in microwave (two minutes). Again, read the instructions on the bag!
LEVEL 2 (OVEN): Check out our in-depth article on how to roast vegetables right here:
- Brussels sprouts. Chop up your sprouts into quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw them on your cookie sheet with foil and parchment paper. Preheat at 400, and let your sprouts cook for 30 minutes. Give it a look halfway through tho.
- Roasted broccoli or cauliflower. Again, let’s toss these bad boys in olive oil, salt and pepper. Throw them on your cookie sheet with foil into a preheated oven at 400 degrees. They’ll cook faster than the sprouts, so only cook for 15 minutes.
- Asparagus. Cover your asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper (I sense a theme). Throw them onto your foiled cookie sheet and place them into your preheated 400 degree oven. Let these cook for slightly more than 15 minutes, 18-20.
Don’t like veggies? We can change that.
What about some healthy carb options? Carbs aren’t evil. Just make sure they meet your goals. And your goal should be to eat under your caloric balance for the day if you’re focused on weight loss.
If you have the room in your calorie budget for the day, here are my favorite carbs to put on the plate next to my chicken and veggies:
- Trader Joe’s microwave quinoa: Stab holes in the bag, put it in the microwave, and be done.
- Sweet potato wedges: Cut up your sweet potato into small bits, then put them on a tray. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat the tray in your oven at 400 degrees for 45 mins.
- Baby potatoes: Cut potatoes in half. Put them on a tray. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper (there’s that theme again), then stick your halved potatoes in the oven.
- Spaghetti squash: Mmmmm!
That will cover your protein, a vegetable, and a carb. Simple.
Batch Cooking Tips and Tricks
This is not rocket science. Don’t make this into a bigger deal than it needs to be. You’re cooking some chicken, a potato, and some veggies. It’s easy.
Also, screwing up isn’t the end of the world. You can always order pizza or Chinese food if you totally botch it. Just live life in beta mode: ready, fire, aim. Try it out, and work on getting better.
Portion out your food into separate containers for grab-n-go lunches. This is how Staci, our head female coach, does batch cooking like this each week. Portion your food out into Tupperware to bring with you to work.
When in doubt, more chicken, more veggies, less sweet potato.
Try different spices. We have a whole big resource on how to do spices and flavors to dress up any healthy meal to also taste delicious.
What are your other newbie cooking questions?
I’d love to help more people become NOT afraid of cooking.
If you don’t know your way around your kitchen, has never turned on your oven, and are afraid of screwing up your meals, you’re not alone!
That was me too, for a LONG time.
These days however, I can cook 6-10 different great meals. It allows me to reach my health and fitness goals without making me miserable.
YOUR MISSION: Cook this chicken, and post a picture of it in the comments below. Do it in the next week.
PS: Just in case:
All photo sources can be found right here.