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The Big Batch: Meal planning with high-quality protein like beef can be a solution for busy consumers.

Taking the "plan ahead" and "waste not, want not" mantras to the next level, batch cooking reflects consumers' quest for convenience and quality.

Batch cooking--preparing multiple meals at once for later use--is on the uptick. According to information from the Beef Checkoff, batch cooking has experienced a 67% increase in consumer conversation since 2012. This form of meal preparation, akin to a DIY meal kit made at home, works for busy consumers and for grocers, who can move products through the store even during slow periods.

In a twist on the use of leftovers to make meals, these batch-cooked meals can be considered "planned overs." The Beef Checkoff has provided consumers with ideas and recipes for a variety of "planned over" meals using nutrient-rich beef to make meal planning and grocery shopping quick and easy.

"Batch cooking with beef takes the guesswork out of weekday meals," says chef Laura Hagen, senior director, culinary innovations for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), a Denver-based contractor to the Beef Checkoff. "With beef batch cooking, families don't need to stress about navigating their busy schedules and spending hours in the kitchen."

Grocers can promote batch cooking as a way for their customers to cut time in the kitchen as well as a way to ensure healthy meals for themselves and their families. Planning meals ahead of time can help people meet their nutritional needs and goals, such as getting enough high-quality protein with beef, paired with good-for-you ingredients like vegetables and whole grains.

On its website and through materials available to grocers, dietitians and others, the Beef Checkoff provides step-by-step instructions for batch cooking cuts like shredded beef and steak, from choosing cuts to cooking beef to assembling meals and storing them in containers for use later in the week. Some of the instructions include cooking methods appealing to busy families, Millennials and empty nesters, such as using slow cookers or grills.

In addition, the Beef Checkoff has developed several recipes for beef-centric dishes like Beefy Sweet Potato Hash, Four Seasons Beef and Brussels Sprouts Salad and Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce. Batch cooking recipes using beef, along with nutrition information, are available at Meanwhile, to help retailers promote and merchandise beef for batch cooking, the Beef Checkoff provides a host of other resources. For example, store staff and registered dietitians can learn about different cuts of beef and how they can be used in batch cooking via a "Making the Meat Case Matter" educational video. In addition, grocers can get batch cooking ideas and information on protein consumption by joining the beef industry's Food Waste Challenge and 30-day Protein Challenge.

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Publication:Winsight Grocery Business
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Dec 1, 2017
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