Thursday, 17 July 2014

Batch cooking for an easy life

I'm not going to whinge too much about being busy, everyone is busy these days in different ways. I feel like I'm permanently chained to my desk at the moment whilst I try and get my thesis finished. By the end of the day I really don't feel like cooking but I know I have to eat and if my boyfriend has been at work on his feet all day, he doesn't feel like cooking either so I frequently end up making something fairly quick and boring involving pasta, a tin of tomatoes and whatever I can find in the fridge. On days when he is working late shifts and not home until after midnight I've found myself increasingly staying at my desk until around 9pm then lazily preparing something on toast, in other words feeding myself like a stereotypical student. Last weekend I decided that I would take a day away from the laptop to do loads of cooking to fill up the freezer and have a stash of homemade ready meals in individually portioned bags. So now when I'm home alone or if we're both just too knackered to do anything there will always be something quick and easy to heat up to serve alongside pasta, rice, potatoes or even just some crusty bread.

Our freezer, full of tasty homemade ready meals with enough room at the bottom for the obligatory ice cube bag and some ice cream cones. Yes I know it probably needs defrosting!
In preparation for my day of cooking I placed a massive order with Tesco to be delivered mid week during one of their new £1 delivery slots. We only live a 10 minute walk from a large superstore but there's obviously a limit to how much we can carry and I also wanted to stock up on some bulky basics like massive bags of pasta and rice and loads of tinned tomatoes etc. I decided to take advantage of the 3 for £10 deal on meat (twice) to get a selection and I also bought 2kg bags of dried chickpeas and lentils, these only cost a couple of pounds in the world foods aisle. I made all the meat dishes last week so the next thing I want to do is make a selection of vegetarian dishes using the dried pulses.

I admit I haven't exactly made 'summery' food but all the dishes were easy to prepare, give generous filling portions and all freeze well. As a little cheat I bought jars of minced garlic, minced chilli and minced ginger for about £1 each in the world food aisle and I used these in each of the dishes that I made. I'm not normally that lazy when it comes to ingredients but as I invariably end up poking myself in the eye after handling chillies and my garlic press isn't very good the jars worked out well for me.

I'll be writing up the dishes separately over the coming days and weeks, this is the second advantage of cooking loads at once, giving myself plenty to write about when I need a break from writing my thesis. Another thing I want to do is some baking for the freezer (based on my photo above I'll have to see if there's space first!) as I like having muffins etc on stand by.

These are the recipes I'll be blogging in no particular order with veggie options to be added once I've decided what I want to make:

Turkey & chickpea curry
Beef & barley casserole
Pork meatballs with hidden veg tomato sauce
Chilli con carne
Lamb & green pepper stew

In the meantime have a look at some of these batch cooking tips and recipes from around the blogosphere.

Save time during the week by following some of these tips for preparing healthy food in advance from Dannii. If you eat a lot of tomato based dishes then try Sarah's slow cooked tomato sauce. Mince forms the basis of many of our favourite dishes and Camilla has a very easy recipe for minced beef and onions. Katie's recipe for vegetarian shepherd's pie is great for making and freezing in advance. Jacqueline has a very healthy vegetable and lentil stew and on Michelle's blog there are several tasty looking batch cooking recipes.

Do you ever batch cook or bake for the freezer?

16 comments:

  1. Great post Jen. I used to batch cook an awful lot. I tend to make time to cook fresh now as it's become such a hobby, but there is nothing better than having healthy home prepared meals when you are just too busy. I look forward to seeing the recipes the turkey curry sounds great.

    Nicole x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nicole, I normally love cooking so fortunately the batch cooking wasn't too much of a chore for me :)

      Delete
  2. That's some proper preparation right there! Nice work. I try to get about once every two months to a bunch of stuff on a Sunday, and set us up for the next few weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds very organised Gary, I'd like to try and do this on a more regular basis, it's already made life easier this week.

      Delete
  3. Wow I salute you Jen, I haven't ever batch cooked like that! If I make extra, on the whole we eat it up the next day or it turns into a new dish but I can see that you need to spend time on your thesis so an excellent idea to keep you from snacking on toast! Thanks for including my Minced Beef and Onions which is perfect for freezing in portions and then sticking on a jacket potato:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I quite often cook for 4/6 so we eat the same thing 2/3 times a week or I freeze a couple of portions. I think it was day well spent though I didn't enjoy doing all the dishes afterwards!

      Delete
  4. I love batch cooking. When I had an office job I'd batchcook my lunches, pack them into flat trays, freeze and take them work frozen. They'd defrost during the morning, ready to be microwaved a lunchtime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone in my office does the same which is partly what prompted me to do this. I cooked 3 weeks worth of meals for both us nearly 4 years ago before I had foot surgery as at the time my boyfriend didn't cook anything. All my friends thought I was mad for spending that long in the kitchen but I'm sure having my own healthy food helped with my recovery.

      Delete
  5. 2kg bags of pulses - wow! You'll need an extra freezer. Very inspiring and productive. Efficient use of time and energy in both senses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I realised after I took the photo there probably isn't as much room as I thought in there!

      Delete
  6. Now that's some epic batch cooking! I try to but fail often, rather I end up with single portions of lots of leftovers so when we're eating from the freezer we all end up with different meals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does take a bit of planning and having the freedom to spend the day in the kitchen which but it's definitely worth it you find the time.

      Delete
  7. How satisfying is that photo of your freezer?! I love feeling organised with heaps squirreled away. Look forward to reading the recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loving your organised and very full freezer!!! That's how I try and keep mine, but it's fallen by the wayside a bit recently, so I need to go through your recipes and re-stock!!!! My mum has two giant chest freezers and has always kept hers stashed with plenty of portions of food... I'm sure it's coz she was a war baby, and now I have it in my blood and stock pile food like there's no tomorrow! Thanks for including my veggie shepherd's pie :-)
    p

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow this is some serious meal planning! The most meal planning I've managed it a few portions of meatballs.
    Love it! x

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do it once in a while but not on a huge scale. Good meal planning though and a great post.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading, please feel free to comment on any of my posts. I love to hear what you think! :)