Friday, August 19, 2016

Batch Cooking - Filling the Freezer in Under Six Hours

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Hi!

Today I really wanted to get the freezer stocked up with some healthy dinner options. We were on holiday from August 6th-13th and I'm still in holiday mode - grabbing late breakfasts and then relying on pizza or burgers in the evening. I haven't eaten three vegetables all week. So, I made a list of some of my favourite Slimming World friendly dinners and got to work.

Firstly, if you're planning on batch cooking, make sure you have the freezer space, and make sure you have containers or plastic bags to hand. I find Dealz great for plastic pots, they're €1.50 for 8 or 10 packs. Any supermarket will have food/freezer bags.

Secondly, if you are planning on freezing the majority of what you cook, it's fine to use meat that has previously been frozen. You can defrost chicken, cook it, then freeze it again - but you can't reheat it more than once. (According to Safefood.eu - there's a doc about freezing and defrosting here: http://www.safefood.eu/safefood/media/safefoodlibrary/documents/publications/consumer/cookingmeatsafely.doc). Make sure any food you cook is completely cold before freezing.

I made Beef Stew, Butternut Squash Soup, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chicken Curry, Spelt Bread, Chorizo and Prawn Paella, and Chicken Goujons, all for freezing. I made a Cottage Pie for today/tomorrow.

Lads - I'm no chef, by the way, there's nothing amazing or fancy here! Just easy stuff that freezes well and that everyone in the family will eat. You can swap out any veg you don't like for something you do.

Beef Stew
Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 0

Makes 4-5 adult sized portions (you can stretch it with potatoes and extra veg)
Note: Because I was freezing this, I didn't include potatoes. I prefer to cook them fresh when I'm heating the stew up.

Ingredients:
600g-800g diced roast beef (I bought two packets of the €3 one on offer in Aldi this week)
3-4 carrots, diced
2 large onions, diced
Half punnet of button mushrooms, chopped
Handful of dry soup mix or barley
Beef stock cube or stock pot dissolved in 500ml water


Method:
Fling it all in a slow cooker and pop it on high for 5 hours. Done.



Butternut Squash Soup
Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 0

Makes 4 decent mugs/bowls of soup

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced (good luck)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small potato, peeled and quartered
Spray oil (eg Frylight or equivalent)
1 vegetable stock cube (I used Kallo low salt) dissolved in 1000ml boiling water.


Method:
Fry the onion and garlic in spray oil until soft. Add the diced squash and potato, then add the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 30 mins or until veg is soft. Remove from heat, leave to cool, then blend. To freeze in portions, place a small food bag in a cup, then pour soup into bag, tie at the top.




Spaghetti Bolognese

Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 0

Makes 4-5 adult sized portions (bulk with pasta and veg).
Note: I didn't cook spaghetti for freezing, I cook it fresh when I defrost the meat.

Ingredients:
500-600g extra lean beef mince
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, finely diced
Half a punnet of button mushrooms, diced
2 cans of chopped tomatoes (forgot to put the second one in the pic)
1 tablespoon tomato puree



Method:

Fry off the onion and garlic until soft (I didn't use any oil, just a little water if it started to stick). Add the mince, fry until browned. Add the mushrooms, carrot, chopped tomatoes, and stir in the puree. Simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until liquid is reduced. 




 

Mayflower Chicken Curry
Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 8

Makes 4 Adult Portions.
I didn't cook rice, I'll do that fresh when I defrost the curry.
Note: I buy Mayflower curry powder from my local butcher, I've also seen it in Super Valu. It's 4 Syns per 28g of dry powder - I used 56g for the whole recipe.

Ingredients: 
28g dry Mayflower curry powder.
3 chicken breast fillets, diced.
1 onion, diced.
Half punnet of button mushrooms, diced.
Handful of frozen peas.
200g water (add more if needed).


Method:
To make the curry sauce, add the powder to the water and whisk until thick. Add more water if you prefer it less thick.


For the chicken, fry it off in a little water, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir fry until everything is cooked. When all is cooked, pour the curry sauce over and stir.




Spelt Bread

I'm not going to give the Slimming World Syns for this - it's a clean, good, healthy recipe and I have previously asked in a Slimming World online chat if it 60g can be counted as a Healthy Extra B and was told yes, so that's good enough for me!

Note: This recipe is from The Happy Pear first cookbook (with the yellow cover), I don't have permission to post it here so if you want the recipe, give me a shout via the blog's facebook page.

Ingredients:
500g spelt wholemeal/wholegrain flour
1 sachet fast action yeast
Half teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
400ml warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil




When the bread was cool I cut it into 60g portions and put in freezer bags.

Chorizo and Prawn Paella
Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 4*

Makes 2 large adult portions or 4 small half portions (could serve with veg, it's lovely with broccoli)
*When using Tesco finest chorizo ring. Other brands vary.

Ingredients/Method:
I've posted this recipe on the blog before here.



Chicken Goujons
Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 8.5 or One and a Half Healthy Extra B Choices

This recipe uses Brennan's Be Good wholemeal bread. 2 slices count as a Healthy Extra B choice in Slimming World. I get it in Dealz, it's about 10p cheaper than most supermarkets (every 10p adds up!).

Makes 4 decent portions.

Note: You can add chilli to the breadcrumbs mix if you like a kick, but I prefer to leave them plain so the kids will eat them, if I want them spicy I'll cook them in the airfryer then toss them on the wok with chilli, onion and peppers.

Ingredients:
3 slices of Brennan's Be Good wholemeal bread, made into breadcrumbs (easiest way is to toast the bread then blitz in a food processor/blender/nutribullet/active blend).
3 chicken fillets, diced.
1 egg, beaten.
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 teaspoon onion granules
Half teaspoon salt
Half teaspoon black pepper


Method:
This can be messy, but I found a great tip a few years ago on a blog (can't remember for the life of me which one, but thank you!) - keep one hand wet and one hand dry. In one bowl, beat your egg. In another, mix your breadcrumbs and spices. With your left hand, drop the chicken into the egg, take it out then drop it into the bowl of crumbs. With your right hand, sprinkle crumbs over the top of the chicken then roll to coat - voila, one wet hand and one dry hand, and NO MESS! You can either cook these in the oven or airfryer straight away or freeze in portions.




Cottage Pie
Slimming World Syns Per Entire Recipe: 0

Makes 4 large adult portions or can be bulked out with extra veg to feed more.

I didn't freeze this, but it will keep overnight in the fridge for dinner tomorrow, you could have it for dinner and use leftovers for lunch.

Ingredients:
500g extra lean beef mince
1 beef stock pot or beef stock cube
1 large onion, diced
Half punnet of button mushrooms, diced
7-8 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed (I used Queens)
Frylight or other brand spray oil
Handful of frozen peas


Method:
Peel and boil the potatoes.
Fry onion in water until soft. Add mince, fry until browned. Add other veg, then stir in the stock pot and add a little water if necessary. If using a dry stock cube, crumble over the top of the beef and add a little water. Simmer over a medium heat until everything is cooked through.
Mash the potatoes. Put the beef mixture into a dish, put the potato over the top, spray with oil (or add a knob of butter if not following a food plan) and then bake in the oven for 20-25 mins.



So - that's it, that's what nearly six hours of cooking looks like! I don't have a massive freezer, I cleared out one drawer to use for the stuff I made today. In there I also froze some bagel slims and some wholemeal rolls. The food can be taken out the night before you need it or early that morning.



It was a tedious, tiring few hours - but well worth it, it saves hugely on dinner prep and would be so useful for someone working full time if they could spare a few hours at the weekend, especially coming into the darker evenings when you're wrecked but would love a comfort dinner - Or if you're expecting a new baby soon! Cooking went out the window when I had the twins, I wish I'd done this beforehand (best new baby gift - cooked food, and I won't hear a word to the contrary).

Hopefully this is of some help to someone!



11 comments:

  1. Absolutely delicious recipes,very motivating.Thanks for sharing x

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  2. Everything looks so delicious!

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  3. Saving this post as I think it's fab. You are a great motivator Sharon.

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  4. This is fab! I've already decided I'm having the curry tonight now ;P

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  5. Eh you may not consider this chefy but holy shit its impressive- a well spent day Sharon xx Siobhan

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  6. This post has really motivated me to get organised before kids go back to school. Can I ask you though if you ever just reheat these meals straight from the freezer? I usually don't know what I fancy eating the next day so don't take out to defrost the night before. I don't like defrosting in the microwave

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  7. Do you ever reheat straight from the freezer? Never know what I want for dinner the night before.
    Very impressive!

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    1. To be honest Sharon I usually just use the microwave if I'm doing it last minute, I haven't reheated anything from frozen - I took out a curry portion last night and just stuck it in the microwave on defrost but it took ages, even a few hours out of the freezer would make a huge difference if you could take it out early morning!

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    2. Thanks for reply Sharon. I just need to get organised but your post has definetly inspired me to do this.

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  8. Best and most practical foodie article I've read in a very long time! you put so much work into this! xx

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  9. I'm very impressed with your kitchen prowess! I have to admit Himself does all the cooking and freezer-stocking these days so I'm not exactly the best person to comment or offer tips... :-/
    Becca | theBeautyInbox

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