This is a batch cooking and easy meals special edition of In Hel’s Kitchen.
I have been Googling for ideas on what meals to freeze before kid#2 arrives, and for quick meals to bodge together in the first few months, but I have not found much inspiration out there. So I thought, hey, lets write my own blog post!
Here is what I have been batch cooking in preparation of kid#2 (with this song ↓ stuck in my head!)
Some of these recipes have been in my collection of cut outs/print outs for years, so its nice to share them here (and handy for me if I lose my book!) Most recipes were doubled up and we had one portion for tea that night, and the rest was portioned up and bunged in the freezer for later. I have noted how many meals each recipe made (thats a meal of two Helen and Rob piggy sized portions that is! So technically if its five meals – its ten portions, or ten meals? whatever you prefer to call it???!) –
- Jamie Olivers Meatballs. I doubled the recipe and got 5 meals out of it costing roughly a quid each. Get in. (Or is it 10 portions costing roughly 50p each? Gah, who cares!)
- Slow cooker chilli con carne. Doubled up again. Made four meals. I added a couple of cans of kidney beans to bulk it out.
- Slow cooker bulgar wheat chilli. This recipe on its own made three meals. I left out the mushrooms because bleugh. V
- Slow cooker sweet and sour pork. Sorry no recipe link, as this is a recipe that I tore from a magazine years ago. Google will find you loads similar though. As before, I doubled up and made four meals.
- Chicken curry. My own recipe involving a large pack of chicken breasts, two tins of tomatoes, a can of coconut milk, a shit ton of curry powder, onions, peppers, a bag curly kale and fresh coriander. It was a bit watery, but it made five meals. Boom.
- Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese. A recipe from one of my books involving two packs of mince, onions, carrots, celery, green peppers, two tins of toms and some dried herbs. It made four meals.
- Creole chicken in coconut sauce. For something a little different. Doubled it up and got five meals.
- Jamaican Jerk chicken. Im all about the fruity and spicy meals ATM! Doubled up for five meals. Quite a saucey meal, that goes well with quinoa.
- Thai green curry. I doubled the recipe and got four meals. I didn’t have any fish sauce in the cupboard, but it was fine without. If I had used a £4.99 1kg pack of chicken breasts from Lidl I could have got five meals out of this, but I used a similarly priced 650g pack from Tesco. Lesson learnt. And yes, I know I need to get a life, talking about chicken breast pack sizes!
- Slow cooker hidden vegetable sauce. We are not big fans of pesto or of jars/tubs of pasta sauce, so I made this to chuck over some pasta (or the dreaded pasta parcels!) for future quick lazy dinners. The recipe made four meals. V
- Moroccan braised carrot, squash and chickpeas. I didn’t double this recipe up, but still got three filling meals from it. It makes a shit ton! Easy and cheap to make too. Bonus! V
And then I ran out of room in the freezer! Damn! I could have made loads more, nevermind!
So there you have it, some freezer friendly meals if you have a babe on the way, or work odd hours and come home knackered after 9pm, or CBA to cook much these days because you have lost your cooking mojo. I have been in all three of these situations, and I can tell you that batch cooking is your friend!
I am well aware that most of my meals listed are meat based and seriously lacking in green vegetables. Its because its quite hard to find any decent veggie based freezer friendly meals that are not soup (and I don’t eat mushrooms and Rob don’t eat lentils, so that kind of limits our choices). And because this is a late summer baby, and I was batch cooking in July/early August, during the biggest heatwave since 1976, we just didn’t fancy soup for dinner! Anyway, Im sure that you could use Quorn, or another vegan meat substitute, or just up the veg content for most of the recipes if you like.
Also, I realise that most of the meals are of the stew/casserole variety, its because I am a bit funny about freezing and reheating rice and pasta, so we will be eating the same old slop in the next few weeks! And yep, none of these recipes are particulary toddler friendly because Dylan, the little bugger, still will not eat much!
For freezing my meal portions, once I ran out of tupperware, I bought some recyclable foil trays with cardboard lids from Poundland, as I didn’t want to use plastic freezer bags or those plastic takeaway tray things that you can buy.
Do make sure that you have plenty of rice, quinoa, cous cous, pasta, part baked rolls and frozen veggies etc stockpiled in the cupboard/freezer to go on the side of your batch cooked meals. Its also handy to stock up on bog roll, kitchen roll and dishwasher tabs etc so that you can hibernate indoors for a few months if you need to!
And for the love of God, when you do need to restock your cupboards (or order in a shit ton of chocolate, snacks and coffee!), take advantage of the supermarkets £1 charge for a 10pm to midnight home delivery slot, as you will be up anyway!
I also think its wise to be realistic – you will be eating for survival in the first few months, so its handy to have as many homemade meals in the freezer as possible. You will also be eating lots of toast, cereal, pasta parcels and frozen pizzas for dinner! And the microwave is your friend!
And for when you cannot face eating pasta parcels the fifth night in a row for dinner, here are some quick and easy meal ideas –
- Jacket potatoes with beans and cheese. Cheat and buy the McCains frozen jackets that ping in five mins and bags of pre-grated cheese! Or if you are feeling fancy, jackets topped with a portion of “here’s one made earlier” chilli that you froze!
- Hot dogs and part baked baguettes. Not the healthiest of meals, but it will fill a hole with grease, salt, preservatives and carbs. Yummy! You can get back to the clean eating plan again when you are ready, say, in like 18 years or so…
- A ready made quiche, a tray of supermarket pre cut ready to roast veggies and new potatoes. Bung the trays in the oven and dump the non peelable potatoes into a pan and boil up. Easy.
- Ready made soup and part baked rolls. I don’t normally buy pre made soups, as its cheaper and healthier to make my own, but every once in a while will not hurt. Needs must and all that. (If the weather ever cools down of course!)
- Something frozen covered in breadcrumbs, potato wedges with bagged salad. I just wash my spuds, chop them up skin on and spray with oil on a baking tray and bung in the oven for roughly 40 mins. Or even easier you can use frozen oven chips!
- Stir frys. Use a pack of pre-cut veggies, a pack of pre cut meat chunks, a straight to wok noodle (I like the thick Udon ones) and either chuck in whatever spices you fancy with a splash of soy sauce like I do, or use a packet of premade sauce. It couldn’t be easier.
- Beans on toast, fish finger sandwiches, pitta bread pizzas, halloumi wraps etc. Lunch for dinner is fine by me! Stick a bit of bagged salad in it/on the side so that you feel like you are eating something green and healthy!
So remember super busy folks and new parents, its all about convienence. Now is not the time to feel guilty about your plastic waste and feeling bad about eating processed junk food!
Who needs Cook or M&S ready meals when you batch cook, eh!
And remember, there is no shame in ordering a cheeky take away kebab from time to time!