Batch cooking - talk me through the basics(25 Posts)
I really really want to start batch cooking and I have approximately 8 billion questions, if you all wouldn't mind
1. What do you actually freeze things in?
2. Do you freeze in individual portions or family size?
3. If I make say a shepherds pie, do I make and freeze the whole thing, or just the best part and make the mash on the day, does mash freeze?
4. Besides mince dishes what else do you batch cook?
5. Does anyone have a very basic soup recipe? (as in I make soup by opening a tin so really really basic)
6. As number 5 but pasta sauce?
7. How often do you really eat the freezer stash?
8. And how often do you replenish?
...ok so 8 questions, not 8 billion, but still lots
Bumping for interest. My only experience is that if you are going to batch freeze things and are disorganised like me it's helpful to also have a microwave to defrost stuff like soups and chillis in. Otherwise they just languish in the freezer.
I also used the soup bags from Lakeland... But again they mainly went to waste along with the soups that were in them.
I don't have lots of answers but I do too a shepherds pie with mash and freeze it like that, just in the dish with a layer of cling film and then a layer of foil.
For pasta sauces and soups I use Lakeland soup and sauce 1 litre bags, which are reusable.
I like to poach a whole small chicken every now and again which produces lots of lovely tender chicken which you can pull off the bone. This I then use to make a pie mix which you can freeze in Tupperware. It also makes a lovely stock which I either freeze as is for the base of risottos and soups, or use to make a soup.
Soup is easy to make if you have nice stock. Just soften onions and any root veg for ages, then chuck the stock in, simmer for a while till all the veg are softened, add any green veg/meat/tinned pulses/noodles etc - cook for a bit longer and then let it cool down. But before blending (if you want a smooth soup). So easy if you have a nice stock.
Pasta sauce is easy too, just softened onions and garlic, good quality tinned tomatoes, seasoning, a small pinch of sugar. Cooked down. Then you can freeze batches and then heat it up and add things like olives/capers/basil/anchovies/chilli and so on.
Fish pie is a good one to freeze too.
Much as pp -
1. plastic bags of various sizes for things like savoury mince/bolognese sauce/casseroles. Put the bag into the right size bowl, then pour into the bag , tie with a wire tie - stops it from dribbling everywhere Then I use whatever I have to hand- I wash out all margarine tubs/ice cream tubs for soup etc.
2. Family portions - these days there is only me and DH, but have family around regularly- I write on a tag for how many its for .
3.Mash does freeze, but takes an age to defrost, so freeze the filling part separately. And its useful to pop onto pasta/rice etc at a pinch.
4. I batch freeze - tomato pasta sauce/bolognese/savoury mince/chicken thigh tray bake/all sorts of different casseroles/lots of soups/cakes/curry sauce
5.One of my families favourites is this one - I just whizz with a stick blender
leek and potato
6.Chop an onion small, and fry gently in a tablespoon oil - at least 10 minutes. (You can add a squashed garlic clove if you like.) Add a can of chopped tomatoes ,( or you can use skinned fresh tomatoes) and a squirt of tomato puree , and gently simmer. Season with salt and pepper. If you have it then add a teaspoon of dried basil , and a splash of lea and perrins. Just let it simmer gently until you have the right consistency.You can add other things too - ( eg peppers - fry with the onions)
7. all the time - any time I make something, I always make enough to freeze, and use something at least once/twice a week
8.When I notice I am down to say 2 packets of something, thats when I organise to do more, so I don't run out.
I cook huge tomato sauce, huge cheese sauce and a lentil and coconut curry sauce. These give loads of quick options. I freeze them in ikea bowls (the cheap plastic multicolour kids packs) then decant the solid lumps into a freezer bag! Each
hockey puck one is a very generous single or two kid size portion. When you reach the last ones in the bag, make more!
As for soup, gently fry a chopped onion, celery, one or two chopped potatoes (to make it thicken) and the relevant chopped veg for the soup eg carrot. Coveer with stock - don't over do it as it can dominate the flavour and simmer til it is cooked. Mush, blend or whatever you fancy. That is a basic, so experiment upwards from there.
I'll try to help!
1. I freeze in sandwich bags as they take up less space. If you can make space in your freezer and lie them flat to freeze so much the better as they can be stacked neatly or slotted into spaces when frozen.
2. A mixture, small sandwich bags can take a one or two person portion, the large ones can take a family. It depends how you normally eat really but smaller is better to prevent waste.
3. You can freeze mash and you could make a cottage pie or whatever and freeze it whole. Defrost overnight in the fridge and bake for an hour or so. If you're likely to forget to defrost you might be better keeping it separate so you can defrost in the microwave before assembling and baking.
4. You can batch cook most things. I do spag Bol, chilli, chicken curry, veg curry, beef/lamb/chicken casserole and pasta sauce
5. Easiest soup recipe ever is
Tip 1 bag of frozen casserole veg in to a pan of water, add dried red lentils and salt and pepper. Boil for 20 mins or so, till veg are soft and blend. You can add cumin/curry powder at the end if you want curried vegetable soup.
6. Pasta sauce - fry frozen chopped onions and garlic powder in a dash of oil, once softened add some frozen Mediterranean veg ( as well as whatever you have on the fridge) and when soft throw in a can of chopped tomatoes, some dried basil, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper and a tbsp (ish) of balsamic vinegar and simmer for 20 mins or so. Taste and add a sprinkle of sugar if it needs it. Can be varied with chilli flakes/bacon/chorizo etc if you fancy.
All frozen veg can be substituted with fresh of course but you wanted easy!
7. Fairly often
8. I always make big batches of things so if we're having spag Bol I'll make for 8 and freeze 4 portions. About once a month I cook for a couple of hours on a Sunday.
I hope this helps - also if you have a slow cooker you should Google dump dinners - they sound disgusting but can really work to save time...
Oh thankyou all some really good ideas here - especially freezing in bags! I was looking at silver tray things and did think that I wouldn't fit many in my freezer
Ps - wtf am I buying jars of pasta sauce for when making my own is that frigging simple !!
- and not loads of sugar!
when you get into making your own pasta sauce, you can add loads of veg and whizz it, if children are a bit veg averse
I need to get back into this again I've gotten slack over the summer. I used to do big batches of bolognese (Jamie O), chilli (Jamie O), lentil or chicken soup my own concoctions and deliciously Ella veg bolognese and sweet potato curry. It's very satisfying if you remember to take something out of the freezer the night before.
book my children are a lot veg averse, that's why things like bolognese and cottage pies are brill for sneaking in veg, they're just so bloody time consuming to make, and now I'm a single parent and generally cook with a 10 month old dangling off my leg we've been eating far too much beans on toast!
An easier way to freeze mash is make a batch, then roll it into little balls. Freeze the balls on a baking tray then put in a bag. Then you can defrost as many little balls as you like, plus it's quicker than defrosting a block.
1. I freeze things in the type on plastic pots you get with Chinese take away , I buy them in £1 land.
2. I always freeze in portions.
3. Freeze your cottage pie in portions! Yes you can freeze mash it freezes well
4. I batch cook, Thai curry ( either meat or veg), I always make a pasta sauce and freeze in portions for a quick pasta meal, meatballs in sauce, soup, stuff chicken breast with cream cheese wrap in bacon and freeze, chicken and bacon pasta, chilli, chicken in cream and mushroom sauce. Chicken curry. Chicken casserole. Sausauge casserole. Beef stew and dumplings in the winter.
5. Lentil and chorizo soup. Fry 1 red onion, garlic and 3 chopped peppers, mushrooms, with as much chorizo as you like, add 1/2 a pint of chicken stock to this ( from a stock cube) black pepper and some paprika, THEN boil some lentils as the packet says. Once the lentils are cooked stir in to the stock and Serve
6. Past sauce= chopped tomatoes, tomatoe purée, onion, garlic, black pepper, basil & oregano. Hide what ever veg you like in it for DC
7. We eat batch cooked meals 2-3 times a week
8. When ever I cook I just cook enough for about 2 extra portions for the freezer.
I also freeze dessert stuff Pancakes, brownies, and cookie dough ( it's lush slightly warm from the oven with ice cream)
Remember things like jacket potatoes with beans/tuna/ batch cooked chilli are quick and filling if you are short of time
I cook huge batches of basic mince, which can then be turned into chili or bolognese when thawed . IKEA bags are brilliant
I also whizz carrot, celery, onion and garlic together and freeze in small batches ready for scratch cooking stress etc quickly.
If you use a slow cooker, it's great to prepare meat and veg, freeze in a bag uncooked, then it's ready just to top into the slow cooker.
I love batch cooking and get such a lovely safe & satisfied feeling when my freezer is full. I try to batch cook at least once per week, then eat freezer food x2 nights in the week when I'm exhausted after work. I buy Tupperware from ikea and save take away cartons, as I'm too clumsy for bags. I'm a recent convert to frozen chopped veg (onions, chopped peppers, mushrooms, stew mix) which takes the work out of batch cooking, works out cheaper and cuts down our food waste (as no rotting veg at back of fridge). I buy fresh chillis and ginger, chop them up then stick them straight in the freezer. I buy frozen rice too, and eat with a batch cooked curry/chilli when I'm feeling really lazy.
we also eat off paper plates.
Nocapes, if you are cooking for young children I recommend getting a silicon cupcake tray which you can put portions of food in to freeze. Once frozen just pop the portions into a freezer bag. I do this with pasta sauces, cheese sauce, even stewed fruit for individual crumbles. It's a handy size for popping out into ramekins.
All ideas above great. I bought a box of disposable metal containers which are great for family sizes cottage pies or anything that needs to go in the oven. They can be used several times. Most come with a lid and I write instructions for heating up and serving on the lid. Otherwise I use little semi disposable plastic containers (like takeaway containers and last for ages) which hold 2 portions each of things like pasta sauce, lamb tagine, curries, stews etc. I write what's in them and the date on the lid.
Best idea recently was to keep a dry wipe marker by the freezer. I write up on the side of the freezer what I've made and how many portions (so 2 big fish pies serving 4 each would be written as 'fish pie, 4, 4') then when I take a dish out I just rub out the number of portions I've taken. Works really well.
There's only two of us in the house. Most recipes are for 4 (or more). So the extra portions go in small Lakeland plastic boxes (single portion) or the larger Lakeland plastic box (two portions). They stack.
Somethings I may just batch cook to freeze it all. 8 enchilladas, cooled, wrapped individually in cling film and then frozen. I do two batches - one spicy, one not and then we can both have what we want.
I buy freezer labels that don't come unstuck.
Write on three things.
1)What it is
2)How many portions
Take whatever we're having out of freezer in the morning and then cook in the evening.
These meals are only for days when I'm doing something after work. (exercise class etc). If i'm coming straight home I cook. That way there's always something in the freezer.
I put something in the slow cooker once or twice a week- bolognese, chicken and chorizo stew, campfire stew, chilli, curry are staples. I always make double and freeze half in a freezer bag for another day.
Our favourite pasta sauce is lots of Mediterranean veg roasted and blitzed with passata.
Whatever container you use mark it with a sharpie or sticky label.
So for example 30 Nov Beef Stew x 2
I use plastic containers from Home Bargains. About £1.50 for six and I use the small size for a single portion and large for two people.
There are four adults here when DC are home from uni so a combination of container sizes is useful. I have used bags when desperate but they are messy and plastic tubs get re-used many, many times.
Stews and casseroles freeze well and I always make at least double of whatever it is to have some left for the freezer.
I also make a lot of soup. Once you've done it you will get a feel for what you like. Others have given some basics recipes. I always add chilli.
This was a new one I tried this week and is lovely Leek and Butterbean Soup.
Do people cook things like chilli, bolognese, soup etc straight from the freezer? And if so, what's the best method? When I batch cook, things languish in the freezer as I'm nervous about cooking straight from frozen and forget to defrost the night before so I end up chucking freezer burned stuff months later
I usually roast two chickens and make large batches of curry and freeze.
Frozen mash- I do this quite a bit (sandwich bags) so I just have to grill salmon or fry a steak
Pork chops - cook several in stocks and herbs and freeze - easy with baby potatoes.
I use the tin foil trays as I don't use a microwave and they are great for sticking in the oven
I do all those, also goulash, chilli, and others. If there is leftover meat from a Sunday roast I freeze it in left over gravy (always make extra for this) and it's a lovely easy meal second time around.
I rarely take out and defrost. 10 minutes in microwave on defrost, just to soften enough to get it out of the container, then put in a non-stick pan and poke about on a medium heat until it properly boils. Turn down and simmer until you are ready to eat it.
I have just taken some frozen soup out of the freezer for my lunch. I made gallons of it when I had some butternut squash.
I don't find food gets damaged in the freezer as long as your container is airtight. I have used herbs and home grown fruit that are over a year old and are fine. I wouldn't keep uncooked meat that long though.
Thanks Wex, will give it a go cooking from frozen. Especially soup as I'm supposed to be doing Weight Watchers and can have some point free soup when I come in from work
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.