In addition to planning my menus, I have been doing more and more batch cooking these past few months.
The idea of batch cooking is to block out time one day of the week to prep or cook a bunch of ingredients in advance, which you can draw from and combine for low-effort homemade meals the rest of the week.
It is the shortest path to feeling like a kitchen superhero, saving you brain juice and money along the way.
And today, I am offering you the vegetarian batch cooking plan for winter I’ve created and test-driven with great success: 1 1/2 hours of prep work for easy 6 meals on subsequent days.
- Meal #1: Spiced Pilau Rice with Beets — a comforting, beautiful-looking dish with warm spices.
- Meal #2: Stuffed Lumaconi with Butternut Squash — to start the week with a golden and appetizing dish that ticks all the boxes — pasta, silky sauce and melty cheese with an irrestistible toasted top layer.
- Meal #3: Winter Vegetable Curry — because a warming bowl of curry made with seasonal vegetables is always a good idea.
- Meal #4: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi served with a poached egg — think miniature cabbages roasted until caramelized, paired with a simple Asian-inspired dressing.
- Meal #5: Grated Carrots and Beets with Leftover Curry — for a dinner involving very little time in the kitchen, enjoying your leftover curry with one of the best, and yet oh-so-simple, winter salads around.
- Meal #6: Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup — an ayurvedic soup with delicious flavors of fresh ginger, spices and coconut milk.
Below you will find:
– A shopping list (of which you can get a free printable) — everything is available from the organic store or supermarket (they cost around 45€ ($54) in my store; your mileage may vary),
– Your instructions for the prep work — allow for 1 1/2 hours of prep time,
– Your instructions for each of the six meals — active time ranges from 5 to 15 minutes, time to table from 15 to 45 minutes,
– Suggestions of variations to adapt the plan to various dietary constraints.
If you’re new to batch cooking, this plan is an easy and lovely way to dip your toes in and see how deliciously freeing it is. If you’re an experienced batch-cook, I hope it provides some ideas to enrich your current practice. And please share your best tips with us!
To make the process super smooth, I recommend these French-made glass containers for storing your preparations (I have two sets; they nest perfectly and take up very little room) and this dual kitchen timer to keep track of two preparations at the same time!
Without further ado, here’s your vegetarian batch cooking plan for winter!
Your Batch-Cooking Shopping List
Get your free printable shopping list!
For 4 people:
☐ 2 butternut squashes, about 900 grams (2 pounds) each (or other firm-flesh winter squash, such as red kuri, acorn, or delicata)
☐ 750 grams (1 2/3 pounds) Brussels sprouts
☐ 750 grams (1 3/4 pounds) raw beets (about 3 medium)
☐ 680 grams (1 1/2 pounds) carrots (about 12 medium)
☐ 230 grams (1/2 pound) potatoes (about 2 medium)
☐ 230 grams (1/2 pound) turnips (about 3 medium)
☐ 1 small head of cauliflower, about 450 grams (1 pound)
☐ 1 small head of lettuce
☐ 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
☐ 1 bunch cilantro (optional; use just parsley if cilantro is unavailable)
☐ 1 organic lemon
☐ 85 grams (3 ounces) fresh ginger
☐ 3 scallions (aka spring onions, optional)
☐ 2 medium yellow onions
☐ 4 cloves garlic
☐ 250 grams (9 ounces) uncooked lumaconi (large snail-shaped pasta, or other large stuffable pasta such as tube pasta or conchiglioni)
☐ 360 grams (2 cups) white basmati rice
☐ 320 grams (1 1/2 cups) lentils (any color you prefer)
☐ 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) cashews
☐ 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) cooked peeled unsweetened chestnuts from a jar (optional)
☐ 600 ml (1 1/2 cans) coconut milk
☐ Chutney of your choice (optional)
☐ 860 ml (3 1/2 cups) vegetable stock, homemade if available
☐ 100 grams (1/2 cup) store-bought vegetarian kimchi (Asian market or natural foods store; check if the ingredients include shrimp or fish sauce; make your own if you prefer, using soy sauce or coconut aminos instead)
☐ 100 grams (1 cup) gratable cheese, such as Comté or Parmesan
☐ 4 large eggs
ON YOUR SPICE RACK
☐ Fennel seeds
☐ Coriander seeds
☐ Mustard seeds
☐ Freshly grated cinnamon
☐ 4 cardamom pods
☐ 4 cloves
☐ Ground cumin
☐ Ground turmeric
☐ Cayenne pepper
(Note: It is fine to substitute a good-quality curry powder for all of the above.)
IN YOUR PANTRY
☐ Olive oil
☐ Coconut oil (optional)
☐ Hazelnut oil (or walnut or sesame, optional)
☐ Vinegar (honey or rice or cider or balsamic)
☐ Strong Dijon mustard
☐ Tabasco sauce
☐ Soy sauce
☐ Black pepper
☐ Fine sea salt
☐ Coarse sea salt
Prep Work (1 to 1 1/4 hours)
First, start preparing the butternut filling for the pasta.
☐ Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
☐ Peel and halve the butternut squashes, remove the seeds and fibres, and cube their flesh into 1,5-cm (1/2″) pieces. Place half in a container and refrigerate.
☐ On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange the remaining butternut in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Mix with your hands to coat well.
☐ Insert in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, until tender.
In the meantime :
☐ Chop the chestnuts roughly, if using, and set them aside in a bowl.
☐ Wash and dry the herbs.
☐ Chop 1/4 of the herbs and add to the bowl of chestnuts. Put the remaining herbs on a dry kitchen towel.
☐ Grate the zest of the lemon finely into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
While the butternut is still roasting, wash and prep the rest of the produce:
☐ Peel 1/3 of the beets and cut into 1-cm (1/3-inch) cubes. Place in a container, label as “beets for pilau” and refrigerate. (Leave the rest of the beets unpeeled and whole.)
☐ Peel half of the carrots. Cut into 1.5-cm (1/2-inch) slices. (Leave the remaining carrots unpeeled and whole.)
☐ Trim the cauliflower into florets.
☐ Brush the potatoes and turnips.
☐ Peel the turnips if thick-skinned. Cut into 1.5-cm (1/2-inch) cubes.
☐ In a large container, gather the sliced carrots, cauliflower florets, cubed turnips, and whole potatoes. Cover, label as “vegetables for curry,” and refrigerate.
☐ Wash and dry the scallions.
☐ Wash and dry the lettuce. Add the lettuce leaves to the herbs in the kitchen towel, roll up, and refrigerate.
☐ When the butternut is done roasting, process in a blender or mash with a potato ricer until smooth, and transfer to a medium container.
☐ To the butternut container, add the bowlful of chestnuts, chopped herbs, lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
☐ Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
☐ Chop the cashews roughly. Place in a jar with a lid at room temperature.
☐ Peel and slice the onions finely. Refrigerate in a container.
☐ Peel and mince the garlic finely. Refrigerate in a container.
☐ Peel the ginger and chop finely. Refrigerate in a container.
☐ In a medium bowl, stir together the kimchi, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or other vinegar), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or other oil). Keep in a covered container labeled “kimchi dressing for Brussels sprouts” in the fridge.
Finally, measure out the spices:
☐ In a small container, measure 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds, and the seeds from 4 cardamom pods. Label as “pilau spices.”
☐ In a second small container, measure 1 teaspoon ground cumin (or whole seeds), 1 teaspoon ground coriander (or whole seeds), 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds. Label as “soup spices.”
Meal #1: Spiced Beet Pilau
Active time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 25 minutes
☐ Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or other cooking oil) over medium heat in a large skillet.
☐ Add in the pilau spices and heat for a few seconds, until they start to pop. (Skip if using curry powder instead.)
☐ Add 280 grams (1 cup) rice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (and 2 teaspoons curry powder if that’s what you’re using).
☐ Stir to combine, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice becomes translucent.
☐ Add the cubed beets and stir to combine.
☐ Pour in 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) stock and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat so it will remain at just a low simmer, cover, and cook without stirring until all the stock is absorbed; this will take 10 to 15 minutes depending on your rice.
☐ While this is cooking, chop 1/3 of the remaining herbs (parsley and cilantro) roughly. Combine with the chopped cashews.
☐ Taste the rice for doneness; if it isn’t cooked through, add a few tablespoons water and cook for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning.
☐ Serve with a scatter of chopped cashews and herbs.
Note: If you have leftovers, you can serve them with the Winter Vegetable Curry for Meal #3.
Meal #2: Stuffed Lumaconi with Butternut Squash + Greens
Active time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 45 minutes
☐ In a large saucepan, bring water to the boil with some coarse salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the lumaconi and boil until just shy of al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.
☐ While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese finely.
☐ Drain the pasta, return to the saucepan, drizzle with olive oil, and shake to coat so they won’t stick to one another as you work.
☐ Preheat the oven to 220°C and grease a round 25-cm (10-inch) baking dish or cast-iron pan with olive oil.
☐ Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the butternut filling into each lumaconi, and arrange in the prepared dish, snugly but in a single layer. When you’re done, dot the top of the lumaconi with any remaining sauce.
☐ Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes, until the top is browned in places.
☐ Dress the lettuce greens lightly with olive oil, vinegar, and salt.
☐ Squeeze some lemon juice over the top of the pasta and serve with the greens.
Meal #3: Winter Vegetable Curry
Active time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 30 minutes
Note: If you have leftover Beet Pilau from Meal #1, you can serve it with the curry and cook a smaller quantity of fresh rice.
☐ Heat 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil in a thick-bottomed pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven.
☐ Add half of the sliced onions and 1 teaspoon fine salt, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
☐ In the meantime, cut the potatoes into 1.5-cm (1/2-inch) cubes.
☐ Add a third of the chopped ginger, 4 cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the pot, and cook for 1 minute.
☐ Add the cubed potatoes, cubed carrots, cubed turnips, and cauliflower florets to the pot.
☐ Pour in two thirds of a can of coconut milk and 120 ml (1/2 cup) water, and stir.
☐ Cover, bring to a low simmer, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the vegetables are cooked through.
☐ While the curry is cooking, cook 280 grams (1 cup) basmati rice in the rice cooker or in a pot of water.
☐ Stir in the remainder of the can of coconut milk, cook for 1 more minute, sprinkle with black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
☐ Serve the curry with the rice and some chutney.
Note: You will likely have leftovers; set them aside to eat as part of Meal #5.
Meal #4: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Eggs
Active time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 30 minutes
☐ Preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F).
☐ Wash the Brussels sprouts, dry, and halve across the root (leave them whole if very small). NOT IF SMALL
☐ Slice the scallions finely.
☐ On a rimmed baking sheet, combine the Brussels sprouts, half of the remaining ginger, the scallions, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss well to combine; this is most easily done with your clean hands.
☐ Slip into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the Brussels sprouts are nicely browned. Allow to cool slightly.
☐ While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, poach or fry the 4 eggs.
☐ Roughly chop 1/2 of the remaining herbs (parsley and cilantro).
☐ Fold the Brussels sprouts into the prepared kimchi dressing gently. Taste and adjust the )seasoning.
☐ Serve the Brussels sprouts topped with the eggs and herbs.
Meal #5: Grated Carrots and Beets with Leftover Curry
Active time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 15 minutes
☐ Trim, peel, and grate the carrots and beets.
☐ In a large salad bowl, combine half of the minced garlic, 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil (or other oil), 1 tablespoon honey vinegar (or other vinegar), 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, a dash of Tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
☐ Add the grated carrots and beets, and toss until well combined.
☐ Taste, adjust the seasoning, and allow to stand for 30 minutes, if you can, before serving: the beets and carrots will render juices that will make the salad moister.
☐ Reheat the leftover vegetable curry and rice, and serve with the grated carrot and beet salad.
Meal #6: Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup
Active time: 5 minutes
Time-to-table: 35 minutes
☐ Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot.
☐ Add the remaining onion and garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook over medium heat until softened, stirring regularly.
☐ Stir in the soup spices, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
☐ Rinse and drain the lentils.
☐ Add in the cubed butternut squash and drained lentils, pour in the remaining 500 ml (2 cups) stock, and add in enough water to cover.
☐ Cover, bring to a simmer, and skim any froth that appears at the surface. Simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, until the squash and lentils are cooked through.
☐ In the meantime, roughly chop the remaining herbs (parsley and cilantro).
☐ Stir the remaining 180 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk into the soup, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
☐ Ladle into bowls, top with the remaining herbs, and serve with optional chili sauce.
Note: You will likely have leftover soup. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge in a covered container, or you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Variations for Different Diets
Meal #2: Replace the cheese with vegan “parmesan”.
Meal #4: Replace the eggs with diced tofu that you will roast along with the Brussels sprouts.
Meal #2: Choose gluten-free pasta.
Meal #2: Replace the cheese with vegan “parmesan”.
Meal #1: Replace the rice with cauliflower “rice”. Pre-cook the beets and reduce the cooking time for the “rice” to 2 minutes.
Meal #2: Don’t mash the filling, but rather bake it as a casserole, replacing the cheese with vegan “parmesan”.
Meal #3: Don’t use potatoes in the curry. Replace the rice with cauliflower “rice”.
Meal #4: Make your own homemade kimchi using honey instead of sugar. Use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.
Meal #6: Replace the lentils with fine florets of broccoli.
Don’t forget to grab your free printable shopping list!