When we’ve got a super busy week like this week, the only way to cope and not resort to ready-meals and takeaway all week is to have planned-over meals. Sometimes it’s not even whole meals that are planned-over, just knowing I have provided a spare portion of something tasty for the PamperedTeen to reheat when she’s going out before I get back with the LittleMiss, or for my own lunch when there’s a long evening ahead.
It’s not always possible in the midst of a whirling dervish of mum-taxi runs and evening meetings to batch cook ahead, but by making one or two little changes I can give us all a fighting chance! The basic principle is when you’re cooking something, make double, and store half for later. It makes the most of the supermarket deals with things like 3 for £10 on chickens and mince. I was buying these deals and then not getting round to using them!
I use my beloved Pampered Chef Rectangle Baker for chicken as two medium (roughly 1.5kg) chickens will fit nose to tail in it and roast beautifully in the same time as one. I have managed to JUST fit 2 larger ones in! All of the chicken recipes can be made with a hot chicken from the supermarket if you haven’t managed to roast a spare.
If I’m doing this for a meal that’s planned for the end of the week I’ll strip the meat off the chicken, and pop it into a freezer bag (I LOVE the Ikea ones with the double lock strip) with a little of the gravy and freeze it for later on. All of these recipes are designed to cook with a minimum of fuss and will often use short cut ingredients. While it is very possible to make my own tomato based pasta sauce, the ones available in the supermarket now have no ingredients in them that I wouldn’t put in when making from scratch, and massively cut down on time, they’ve come a long way in the last few years.
The other get ahead trick I use is with minced beef. I buy twice as much, and brown it off with onions, then remove half and store or freeze what I’m not using immediately. This is where my super-size super-star skillet comes into it’s own! Alternatively I make one mince batch up as a cottage pie mix and whack a jar of tomato pasta sauce of some sort in the other, often grating carrot into both.
As I add recipes with other short cuts, I’ll add links on this page. There’s no point in trying to get ahead and it taking an age to find the page you need 😉