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Whatever kind of real food diet you are on, batch cooking can be an incredibly helpful tool. It helps you stay on track by always having nourishing meals ready to go. With the GAPS intro diet, this is an essential tool. Every single meal must be prepared at home. As you body begins to heal and adjust to your new style of eating, you will be tired and may experience some strong detox symptoms. I know that there is no way I could have survived the first week of the GAPS intro diet if I had needed to put any more effort into cooking than heating soup and chopping fresh garlic.
Although completely changing your diet and cooking soups from scratch every single day is a much more daunting task, batch cooking can still be intimidating. It requires a large time commitment and a lot of planning. First you must figure out what recipes you can and want to eat, then make a grocery list and pick up the ingredients, then prepare everything, then finally cook it and find a place to store it! It is a lot of work, and I won’t lie: it took me about 10 hours to take care of all of the hands on stuff.
But it was totally worth it. It would have taken even longer than that if I had prepared each soup individually. Even more importantly, I would not have been able to stick to the GAPS intro diet if I had needed to use those 10+ hours within the first week for cooking. Whether you work full time, have children to care for, are sick and tired, or any of the above, this is not an easy feat. Batch cooking will make it doable by ensuring you always have something available to heat up.
Step One: Planning
Tools to have (links to my favorites):
- Lots of large pots and bowls
- A good spoon and ladle
- Liquid measuring cup
- Storage containers, preferably glass
- A good knife
- Food processor
Recipes – I made 6 different soups so that we would have plenty of variety. Stage one of GAPS intro is monotonous, so the more choices you have the better:
- Pureed Squash, Cauliflower Mash, and a modified Beef and Broccoli Soup from What Can I Eat Now: 30 Days on the GAPS Introductory Diet
- Meatball Soup
- Ginger Squash Soup
- Chicken Soup – 2 lbs chicken, chopped squash and carrots, an onion, and broth
- More ideas: Raia’s Recipes, GAPS for T2, Journey to Food that Gives Life, Afterthoughts Blog, What Can I Eat Now (ebook)
My Shopping List:
- 2 lbs broccoli
- 4 lbs cauliflower
- 2 whole chickens
- 4 lbs ground beef
- 6 onions
- 6 inches fresh ginger
- 14 cups cubed squash and carrots (2 butternut squash and at least 2 pounds of carrots)
- about 10 quarts stock/filtered water (I didn’t measure precisely)
- 4 tablespoons pastured lard
- To be added later: salt, 1 clove garlic, and 1 tablespoon fat to each pint of soup
While this may seem like a lot, this whole list cost me about $75. All the meat and almost all the vegetables are organic/grass fed/pastured. Most of it came from my local Costco, except the squash (Aldi), ginger (Asian market), and pastured lard (farmer’s market).
Step Two: Preparation
I found that the best way to do batch cooking to to prepare everything at least a day ahead of time. I took a couple hours one day to chop up all my squash, carrots, and onions. My broccoli and cauliflower came pre-chopped. One this I learned, however, is that you must double wrap your onions, or EVERYTHING will smell like onions. If possible, it is best to wait until the day of cooking to chop the onions.
Use a food processor to chop as often as you can. I use the slicing attachment for the carrots and the S-blade for the onions. It will save your hands and save you a lot of time!
Cook the chickens ahead of time as well. I rinse one out, place it and the gibblets in the bottom of a stock pot, cover the chicken with filtered water, and boil it for an hour. Then I remove that chicken and repeat the process with the other. Strip the meat off the chicken for use in soups, and save the carcasses for making broth.
If you have a freezer or refrigerator full of stock, you can do this step the day before. However, if you have none, cook the chickens a few days early. Reserve the cooking liquid and make broth with the carcass. Use these in your soups!
Step Three: Cooking Day
Have the proper mindset: Be okay with mess and get over any fear of food touching. It’s okay to clean up a bit as you go, but if you have to wash every bowl and pot after each use, you will never get through this day. Remember that you don’t have to have the perfect kitchen to do this. This is how small mine is. This is what my “packing and cooling” station looked like:
Tips for GAPS Intro Diet Batch Cooking
1. Start with easy soups and finish prepping others while they cook. Example: For the squash soups, all I had to do was add the ingredients to the pot and let it cook. However, I did not have any meatballs formed for the meat soups. I mixed and formed my meatballs while the squash soups were cooking.
2. Puree vegetables and move soups into storage while others are cooking. All of these soups are made by boiling vegetables for 30 minutes and adding meat in at some point; they can be very hands off. Use their cooking time to deal with the soups you have already finished.
3. Use lots of bowls and at least 2 pots for prep, cook, puree, and allow to cool. You should be able to have at least one soup cooking and at least two soups cooling at all times. I find it helpful to also have a bowl where I can combine all the ingredients for the next soup in line.
4. Let your soups cool completely before putting in plastic. Ideally all soups will be stored in glass, but this isn’t always feasible. I stored the first soups I made in glass so that they could be moved into storage immediately, freeing up space. To save energy, cool to room temp before refrigerating, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before freezing.
5. Start cleaning while the last soups are cooking – you should always be working on something!
6. Make more than you think you will need. I made 19.5 quarts of soup, used 7 pounds of meat, and added extra lard to each batch. I hoped to make a week of soup. My husband and I both reacted to this diet by not wanting to eat anything. We each ate about 3 pints of soup a day, and the above list of ingredients lasted two adults 6 days. However, many people react by constantly being hungry and eating as much as they can. Especially if you have a larger family, make as much soup as you can before starting GAPS intro. Split this batch cooking extravaganza up over a few days if you need to.
Since starting the GAPS intro diet, I have repeated this process about once a week, although with fewer recipes. As you move through the diet, learn what your family likes, and get used to making soups, it gets much easier and faster. Without batch cooking, planning and preparing meals would make intro impossible for me. With batch cooking, it takes just minutes a day to prepare wholesome, nourishing, healing, and delicious meals. Definitely worth a day of effort once a week!
Have you done the GAPS intro diet? Share some of your favorite recipes and batch cooking tips!
Here’s a picture of all the soups I made in that one day:
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