Small Batch Cooking Strategies for the Frugal Chef

small batch cooking serving plate

Whether you are moving into your first apartment and are tight on cash or you are entering your first year of college and trying to avoid those pesky Freshman 15 lbs - cooking for one might be new to you. Fortunately, small batch cooking is easier than you would think, we swear! Plus, by practicing small batch cooking you will save time throughout the week and ultimately save some money. By planning ahead and equipping yourself with the proper tools, making meals for yourself will be easier and cheaper than spending countless hours searching for your next meal on food delivery sites. Here are some quick tips:

Small batch cooking pans

Cookware Tips:

  • Smaller tools encourage small batch cooking. Everyone should own a stainless steel skillet and a non-stick skillet. An 8” stainless steel skillet is perfect for braising, searing, and frying small steaks, pork chops and chicken breasts. With its compact size, this stainless steel skillet is great for cooking enough to serve two, allowing you to efficiently control your portions. Non-stick skillets are ideal for breakfast making. With an 8” non-stick skillet, cooking eggs in different styles and flipping flapjacks are a breeze. An added bonus: smaller skillets take up less space in your cabinets… or in your oven, however you choose to store your cookware.

small batch cooking roasting pans

  • Prepare a whole meal in one pan to cut down on use of cookware and time spent cooking. A 13” roasting pan allows you to bake potatoes, roast vegetables, and cook a small roast, creating an entire dinner in one dish. Less cookware, less mess to clean up. Any leftovers make for great lunches the next day.
  • Purchase a couple of smaller sheet pans to prevent cross contamination. This way you can use one for cooking vegetables, one for cooking fish, and one for cooking chicken. For effortless cleanup, line the sheet pan with tin foil before each use.

small batch cooking frittata

  • As it has been said for many years, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why skip it? Use a 12-cup muffin pan to make mini egg frittatas to have breakfast throughout the week. Bake them ahead of time and toss them in a food container in the fridge. Pop what you want to eat in the microwave and then enjoy them on-the-go. Muffin pans can be used to make many different dishes, check out Food Network’s muffin pan recipes to get inspired.

Small Batch Cooking Practices:

small batch cooking preparation

  • Make a large batch of food such as chicken cutlets, shrimp, or ground beef easily without bogging down your taste buds. Divide the food into five small mixing bowls and dress each portion with a different seasoning. This way you have a different tasting meal every day!
  • Have a favorite recipe but it prepares 4-6 servings? Divide the measurements in half; this way you are guaranteed to make less and waste less. This technique does not work for baking.*
  • The best thing about small batch cooking is that when you prepare your meals ahead of time, you don’t have to cook when you are tired, lazy, or simply don’t have time. Utilize airtight food containers to store your pre-cooked meals and keep them fresh longer.


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