Bulk cooking is typically when you cook multiple meals over the course of a whole or half day. You can then either freeze some portions of the meals to eat later or eat the meals over the course of the week.
I don’t often have the luxury of a free day to spend cooking (unless it’s recipe testing!). So I might cook a couple of items or do a fair amount of prep (like cutting vegetables) on a weekend day and then finish items off over the course of a week. For instance, I might make 24-hour yogurt over the weekend and then later in the week use some of it to make a probiotic ranch dressing or yogurt marinated chicken. The key thing here is to find what works best for you, which may change from week to week.
Options for basics to have around:
- Drinks. If you need to gain weight, create drinks that include honey simple syrup (clover honey is low FODMAP because it has a 50/50 glucose to fructose ratio) for added calories and energy from carbohydrates. Drinks to make include Jasmine Lime Cooler, apple cider vinegar & ginger tea, or Limeade. If you don’t need to gain weight, try water flavored with mint, cucumber or lemon to keep you hydrated. If you’re having diarrhea, a homemade electrolyte drink can be helpful in staying hydrated and replacing electrolytes.
- Hard-boiled eggs. They are great to use on salads, deviled or for snacks or breakfast. They are reasonably priced and are a great source of healthy protein and fat. Choose eggs from pastured chickens when possible.
- Bone broth. Bone broth can be sipped with any meal or it’s great as a snack. It can also be a delicious base for soups and stews. You can freeze bone broth cubes to add them to other recipes. Not only will it add depth to the meal’s flavor but it will also increase the nutrient density. Bone broth is power packed with nutrients. Just a couple examples of the nutrients are:
- Collagen keeps our hair thick and our nails strong. It’s also a component of organs, bones, tendons and ligaments.
- The amino acid glutamine helps reduce cravings and aids in tissue recovery.
- Hyaluronic acid hydrates skin and lubricates joints.
- Calcium supports bone integrity and plays a vital role in blood clotting.
- Magnesium supports energy production, blood sugar stability and control of inflammation.
Some people tolerate store bought chicken and beef bone broth, which may include high FODMAP foods such as garlic and onions and polysaccharides from joint bones. If you don’t tolerate store bought bone broth, it’s fairly easy to make your own, especially with a hot pot/pressure cooker. Here’s a video of how to use one to make bone broth and here is a low FODMAP bone broth recipe.
- Soups and stews. Soups and stews are easy to digest, keep you hydrated and help you feel full. So while salads, cold soups and light fare feel more appropriate for summer, warms soups, stews and slightly heavier, but still healthy, fare works for the longer, darker days of fall and winter.
- Snacks. Create snack items like gummies or nut balls or divide up snacks like nuts and fruit into small jars for grab & go.
- Frozen Meals. I find it really helpful to make more food than I need and then freeze meal size portions for lunch or a night when I need a quick meal. Some good recipes to freeze include butternut squash lasagna and hearty beef stew. Double or triple recipes and freeze portions for later.
- Prepared vegetables. Pre-cut vegetables are a great option if you don’t have the time to do the prep work yourself. You can roast or steam vegetables and then use them in a variety of ways. For example, you can steam carrots and then use them as an ingredient in a curried carrot soup, a carrot puree or simply sauté them in butter and add salt and herbs (such as fresh or dried dill) for additional flavoring. Spiralize or thinly slice vegetables in advance for the week. If you prepare zucchini noodles, you can make both hot and cold dishes such as Mediterranean Zucchini Salad or Zucchini Pasta with Pesto Sauce. Create salad combinations in mason jars to grab for lunch on the go.
- Smoothie ingredients. Smoothies can make a great snack or meal. I often recommend adding cooked spinach or kale in a smoothie as tolerated. But you wouldn’t want to put warm veggies into your smoothie so it’s great to prepare smoothie ice cubes in advance. Simply sauté your greens of choice in coconut oil or ghee and then place them in an ice cube tray. Pour your choice of milk over the greens and freeze. You can put them into a storage container and keep frozen until you’re ready or you can create individual smoothie packs with the ice cubes and pre-portioned frozen fruit. If you tolerate bananas, peel, cut and freeze bananas to throw into a smoothie.
- Roasted chicken. If you like and tolerate chicken, I recommend cooking or buying a whole organic chicken every week or every other week.
Some items to make with leftover chicken:
- Zucchini noodles with chicken and arugula pesto
- Chicken salad with grapes, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and lemon juice
- Chicken stir fry with veggies such as broccoli, shredded carrots, red bell peppers, green onions (green parts only), and a grain like quinoa (as tolerated)
- Fried rice (as tolerated) with chicken and veggies
- Small Caesar salad with chicken
- Homemade coconut milk or almond milk. Please note, there are milks available without gums but homemade coconut milk tastes pretty great.
- Sauces, spreads and dressings. It’s great to have these on hand to dress up a meal at the last minute. Some of my favorites are tapenade on roasted pork or with almond crackers, or ranch dressing with chicken wings, on a side salad or as a dip for vegetables or crackers.
- Homemade nut butter. I know, you can buy almond or sunflower butter at the store that doesn’t contain additives. But personally, I feel like homemade nut butter tastes SO much better. This might be on your “nice to have” instead of your essential list.
- 24-hour yogurt. Homemade yogurt is pretty easy to make and can be made with the milk of your preference (I recommend using organic half and half for those who need to add healthy fats). You can also buy 24-hour yogurt.
- Grains. If grains are on your menu, make them in advance and use them in a variety of ways. Rice or quinoa can be used in a stir-fry, as a breakfast cereal, in salads or a side dish. If you seem to do well with freshly cooked grains but notice symptoms if you eat reheated grains then you may not tolerate resistant starch.