When you’ve been running around all day, fielding work requests, looking after the grandkids or simply staying abreast of all your chores, the thought of cooking a meal from scratch might just fill you with exhaustion – and that’s when the temptation to order unhealthy takeaway or eat pre-packaged supermarket meals runs rampant.
Never feel as though you have to resort to unhealthy junk food again, with our great meal ideas you can make in large batches ahead and freeze for life’s busiest days.
Easy-freezy bean and sausage hot pot
For some good, old-fashioned comfort food, you can’t go wrong with this bean and sausage hot pot.
- Fry 16 large sausage in a casserole pot (veggie sausages work well too) for about 10mins, add a squirt of tomato puree and a can of chopped tomatoes.
- Stir in two cans of butter beans, 2tbsp of muscovado sugar and 2tsp of mustard. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook for 30 minutes. Cool and freeze.
- Defrost in the microwave or in the fridge throughout the day, then cook on the hob until the sauce is bubbling and the sausages are hot all the way through. Perfect with some crusty bread.
One pot Chilli Marrakech
Choose a dish with a little kick and you’re sure to brighten up the end to any busy day.
- Toast 1½tbsp of cumin seeds for a minute in your largest pot then put to one side. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil and gently fry three finely sliced onions. After about 5mins, adding 3 x 400g packs lean lamb mince, 4 finely chopped cloves of garlic and 2tbsp of chopped ginger. Cook until mince is browned and drain excess oil.
- Stir in 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes, your toasted cumin and 1tbsp paprika, 1tbsp ground cinnamon,1½tbsp ground coriander and 3tbsp harissa. Then add 3 chopped red peppers, 2 x 400g cans of drained chickpeas, 30g of coriander and 500ml of beef stock (2 cubes should do it). Cover and cook for 40mins, stirring occasionally.
- Once cooled, pack into freezer bags and smooth out extra air before sealing and freezing. To heat from frozen, simply pop in a pan with a little cold water and cook until bubbling hot. Sprinkle with a little coriander and serve with nan breads or rice for a speedy dish.
Sweet and spicy pepper pilafs
Not only is this a super healthy recipe, each pepper can be frozen as a separate portion – so you can always defrost the perfect amount.
- Heat 1tbsp of vegetable oil in a large pit with a lid and add 1 chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1cm of finely chopped ginger. Warm until the onion softens then stir in 1tsp of tomato puree, 1tsp of ground cumin and 1tsp of garam masala. Cook for one more minute then add 200g basmati rice. Stir until the rice is coated then add 850ml of vegetable stock.
- Bring to the boil then add 140g red lentils, cover and cook over a low heat for 15mins. Stir through 200g of spinach leaves and a handful of chopped mint then remove rice from the heat and spread out on a baking tray to cool for one hour.
- Slice off the top of 8 peppers and hollow out the insides. Fill each pepper with the rice mixture, replace the top then wrap in cling film or freezer bags before freezing. Once defrosted, all you need to do is pop your peppers in the oven at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook for around 30mins.
What’s your secret freezer favourite?