Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Meal Planning Part 2

Meal planning is the name of the game this week for me and following part 1 of getting organised with buying the ingredients and planning the meals to suit our week, I wanted to trial run a spot of batch cooking.

I love the idea of freeing up my evenings even more so I can chill with Joe and Rosie, no mad scramble to get the food on the table whilst trying to entertain my little R. So this Sunday I planned my meals for the week with a view to cooking a lot of them that afternoon so they were all ready for the week ahead.

We love having a roast on a cold winter Sunday (who doesn't?!) but I've always been a bit nervous of doing it all by myself. I normally prep whilst Joe sorts out the meat and gets it all in and out of the oven at the right time. But this Sunday, I decided to take the plunge and do it ALL BY MYSELF and you know what, it was delicious!! 

So I knew I had a good hour and 45 minutes to wait for the chicken to be cooked and ready so I got on with prepping my meals for the week. I used some simple freezer/ fridge/ oven friendly disposable metal containers for the lasagne and cottage pie, then I did a big separate cottage pie to put straight in the fridge. I chopped up a mountain of veg for my roast dinner, cottage pie, lasagne and chicken curry then sorted it into the right pans and roasters to get it all going.

Two hours later (yep, two hours to prep a WEEK'S worth of meals, amazing!!) I was just about done...

Phew!! That's a lot of meals all ready to heat up and go!!

So, to recap, this is what I prepared for each meal;

Chicken Curry - Chopped up the veg and two chicken breasts, added some cashew nuts then poured on a jar of butter chicken sauce. All ready for the slow cooker the next day.

Lasagne - Chopped up the onions and mushrooms, cooked the beef mince and added the veg and tomato pasta sauce. Made a quick white sauce for the top (I always add nutmeg, yum yum) then layered it up with the lasagne sheets in the foil containers to stick in the freezer.

Cottage Pie - Chopped up the onion and carrots, cooked the beef mince and added the veg, some frozen peas, a jar of tomato pasta sauce and gravy granules. Chopped up the potatoes for the topping, turned them into mash and added a good amount of cheese. Put it all together in a big dish to put in the fridge and as I had extra, made up a second one in a foil container for the freezer. 

The great thing about a roast dinner is that there is always a ton of leftovers! We use the leftover roasted veg as a soup for all of us during the week (we always add a baby stock cube so there isn't too much salt for little R) 

The leftover roast chicken is great for grab-and-go sandwich fillers. I know I have two baking potatoes ready in the fridge for an easy jacket potato and cheesy beans night so with a bit of preparation, I was sorted for the week!

And let me tell you, coming in from work on Monday night and smelling the curry cooking away in the slow cooker was awesome...it seriously made it all worth while!

And now because I have made meals that I have put straight in the freezer, I know they will keep for next week if we decide to spontaneously go out for dinner one night or if we get invited over somewhere. 

For me the batch cooking and meal planning thing is a success already! Have you tried batch cooking? What meals do you make in advance?

Stay tuned for a chat about food budgeting in the next few days!

x x x

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