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Colman's cook once eat twice challenge feedback thread. Non-testers: share your top tips for bulk cooking. £150 voucher up for grabs. NOW CLOSED

(120 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Sep-13 11:25:00

This thread is for the 20 Mumsnetters who are taking part in the Colman's cook once eat twice challenge.

Here's what Colman's say: "Wasting food costs families up and down the country money and has an impact on the environment too. As many of you already know, bulk cooking is a simple way to reduce this, as it can help with meal planning and provides a solution for those mealtimes when you just don't have the time or inspiration to cook. So join us in making your family's favourite dishes go further and save yourself time and money in the process!"

Non-testers: We know many of you are already pros at bulk cooking and reducing food waste and we'd love to hear your top tips on this. How do you organise your freezer space? Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?
Whatever your tips may be, please do share with other Mumsnetters on this thread.

Everyone who adds a comment to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 M&S voucher!


Testers: We'd like you to post regular updates on this thread over the next couple of weeks, below are a few questions for you to answer but please also feel free to add any other comments you may also have. You may want to answer some questions now and some at the end of the challenge.

Questions to be answered at the start of the challenge:
- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?
- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?

Questions to be answered towards the end of the challenge:
- Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why?
- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all? Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.
- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
- Do you think you'll be likely to continue to cook in bulk more often after the challenge? If so why? If not, why not?
- If it came up in conversation, would you recommend bulk cooking with Colman's dry recipe mixes to friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?


Everyone who adds their feedback to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 M&S voucher.

Thanks and good luck,

Katie @ MNHQ

Bubbles85 Mon 23-Sep-13 14:01:31

Non-tester here.

I keep my freezer really organised. I make sure I bag small portions up so there is no wastage when I need to defrost something and I keep a list stuck on the outside of the fridge so I don't forget what's in there.

ouryve Mon 23-Sep-13 16:13:43

Non-tester.

I don't do a lot of bulk cooking and tend to only really bother with dishes that require long, slow cooking, or get better with keeping. If I make a spag bol, for example, I'll usually make enough of the sauce for the 4 of us for 2 days, and happily eat it 2 days on the trot. If I make a generous amount, though, I'll take out a portion or two and put it in whatever freezable container I can find and chuck it in the freezer for DS1 to have when we're having something spicy or cheesy.

Tester

Questions to be answered at the start of the challenge:
- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?

I don't cook in bulk often even though I really should. This is mostly due to lack or organisation and also pure laziness. blush

- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?

I am looking forward to cooking all of the recipes but think that the chili con carne will be a good one to bulk cook as it's so versatile and warming.

- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It depends how organised I am. Sometimes I will meal plan and then shop, other times I will do a kitchen stock take and try do a meal plan which uses everything up that I have in. This often means I can put off going shopping for another few days and means less food goes to waste.

littlemonkeychops Mon 23-Sep-13 18:19:23

I almost exclusively bulk cook now, it's great as i cook less often, save money by buying in bulk and rarely throw anything away.

I bought a batch of cheap tupperware that holds portions for 2, so i know exactly how many meals are in the freezer. Plus i freeze anything wd don't eat, eg if i make too much mash one day i'll freeze a portion, or if i only need half a chopped onion for a meal i'll chop allnof if and freeze the other half.

We work through the freezer eating what we fancy whenever, but every couple of months if the freezer seems full we make a list of what's in there and don't buy any "meals" for the next couple of food shops and work our way through the freezer instead.

I'd never go back to cooking everyday!

yegodsandlittlefishes Mon 23-Sep-13 21:16:29

Non-tester.

I bulk cook about once or twice a month. Yesterday I bulk cooked cakes.

How do you organise your freezer space?

Milk at the bottom, then larger bulk cooking, then veggies, next up chips, then smaller portions of bulk cooking and right at the top, desserts and snacks.

Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend?

Neither! I scribble the ingredients and cooking instructions on a piece of paper, and how many portions (and what I think it will go with best) and stick that on the lid with clear packing tape. I make note of allergens too. In theory any of the family could feed us all by just following the instructions on the box. In practice, we all like to cook from scratch so these dishes are for when we're in a bit of a rush.

How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?

Sometimes I plan more than others, but try to have at least one or two meals a week when each member of the family can get their own food to suit their own tastes from things in the cupboards.

I bulk buy rice, pasta and noodles. Rice is cooked in the rice cooker when I have time (or can leave it running when I'm working) and noodles or pasta for when we need a quick meal. I only buy potatoes when I know they will get used up fairly quickly.

I adapt recipes to use up ingredients I have to use up and try to buy food that complements what I have in stock, especially if it has a short shelf life.

sharond101 Mon 23-Sep-13 21:40:19

I am a bulk cooker and we have a separate freezer in the garage I keep all the base ingredients in and the prepared meals stay in the inside freezer so they are easy to access. I buy the base ingredients (e.g turkey or beef mince, braising steak, chicken breasts/thighs) when they are on offer in bulk and cook as and when things run low. I do soups, stews. enchiladas, savoury mince, pies, scones etc. I also freeze leftovers when possible. It works it well as there is always a quick meal available. We don't meal plan as such as I never truly stick to it but I often know a rough outline of the weeks meals and rarely waste anything. I work the meals around what needs using up.

SaltySeaBird Mon 23-Sep-13 21:45:43

Non tester

I mainly bulk cook food for my DD. I make sure everything is labelled with the food and date. It's easy to end up with a mystery meal otherwise.

We make sure the freezer is well organised so we can see at a glance what we have left.

manfalou Mon 23-Sep-13 22:03:45

Non Tester

I dont bulk cook because I don't really know a lot of meals which can be cooked in bulk. The only things I bulk cook are shepards pie and lasagne. Otherwise I buy meat in bulk, separate into smaller portions and freeze like that. We don't tend to waste food as I only buy what we need.

The freezer is split into: 2 x meat draws (chicken, beef, mince, sausages) all weighed out into the correct meal sizes required. A shelf for breads and potato produce. A Shelf for ice creams and sweeter items, a shelf for kievs, fish fingers...easy lazy cooking items. The door has the veg in (3 small shelves)

aristocat Mon 23-Sep-13 22:09:48

Non-tester.

How do you organise your freezer space? Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?

My freezer is almost always full. I batch cook and freeze single portions of food in plastic boxes which are clearly labelled (with love!) and dated.

I have always planned meals and know what I intend to cook several days in advance. DH does very little cooking - I have control. However my plastic boxes are not such a good idea at the moment because my microwave stopped working a few days ago and so I have to transfer into an ovenproof container - which is just a faff.

Hopezibah Mon 23-Sep-13 22:16:50

Non-tester: I tend to do a massive batch of a fave meal like lasagne or moussaka then freeze it in lots of little batches in recycled butter tubs. (then they can be defrosted in the microwave from frozen like individual ready meals - but obviously healthier than ready meals!).

I just use a permanent marker to name and date each container.

I'm not great at meal planning as I like to be spontaneous with deciding what to eat each day. Yet I am very good at not having much waste because I think lots of foods can be added to other meals to use them up e.g. I put pretty much any veg in any meal and it works.

I also freeze pretty much anything and everything. Even slices of lemon and lime freeze well and then use in drinks (I know this is supposed to be about meals - but I think most things can be frozen).

kateandme Mon 23-Sep-13 22:34:27

i wouldnt say we particulaly cook to have bulk but because weve always had a large family we generally cooked too much!!
so if there are leftovers they are never thrown away.they are put in the fridge and either had for lunch or tea thenext day until they are gone.

so we prefer to even if there are fewer of us as the kids get older to still cook good portions because often things are just as great if not more so the next day.

if we have a roast chicken we always use the leftovers for a chicken curry or chicken in white saue the next day.
when doing a basic mince base we seperate it into containers to have conintuoulsy.so soe will freeze other we will have the next day.so spaghetti bolognase one night can be nachos and mince or shephard pie the next.

good containers are eseential for bulk.weve had far too many times where theres been leakages.

bulk are also essential skills for when the kids are off to uni.

hjmiller Tue 24-Sep-13 07:32:51

Top tip; think about how you will re-heat the food when you store it, the plastic containers that takeaways come in are great for microwave cooking or tipping into a saucepan, and they stack well.
For oven cooking you can buy foul trays at the supermarket, quite cheap & you can transfer straight from freezer to oven!

hjmiller Tue 24-Sep-13 07:33:16

Oops - foil trays, not foul!

SuedeEffectPochette Tue 24-Sep-13 10:41:58

I was pleased to be chosen as a tester and have already tried out a couple of the recipes, with success! Turning to the specific questions:-

How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?

Up to now, I do not very often cook in bulk. The reason is that I seem to be constantly just throwing meals together for the children. Then, for me/partner, we tend to eat a lot of salad/fresh fish etc which you can't prepare and keep. So, in summary, lack of organisation and, to date, no time.

* Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking*

I have used sausage casserole and chilli con carne so far. I am intending to try out the chicken casserole with quorn pieces instead of chicken as the children like quorn and I find it less fiddly than using chicken. The Chilli con Carne was extremely tasty made with Quorn mince. I also chucked in a handful of green lentils to bulk it out a bit and save money. We enjoyed the meals and I have four portions of each frozen for future use!
Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not

To some degree, yes. Always for me/partner. Not always for children as they quite often change their mind about what they want!

MadMonkeys Tue 24-Sep-13 10:49:46

Non-tester

How do you organise your freezer space? Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend?

I have 3 drawers just for meals I have cooked.

How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?

Yes, absolutely. I do a meat shop in Lidl as the meat there is lovely and a lot cheaper than elsewhere. Then I bulk cook and freeze. I meal plan - each week we have 2 or 3 meals from the freezer and I cook the other meals on the day. I used to spend £100+ per week for two adults, one toddler and one baby. Now it is £60-£70 and we have better meals as I'm not scraping the barrel for ingredients or trying to use up things close to the use-by date through poor planning. It's great! And I'm loads more chilled not having to think about what to cook each day.

Spirael Tue 24-Sep-13 10:58:41

Non Tester.

I sometimes cook in bulk, but I rarely freeze the food as we only have a small freezer and it's always full with meal components, such as frozen chopped onions/garlic/ginger/chilli/quorn/etc, to make preparation easier and quicker!

So when I bulk cook, I just arrange it so we can use a bolognaise one day with spaghetti, then as lasagne the day after. Or curry one day, then the same again two days later, with fresh rice each time.

It helps that we rarely use meat so I don't have to worry about that going off!

dahville Tue 24-Sep-13 11:32:33

Hmm - post didn't post, apologies if this shows up twice...

I'm not for bulk cooking that goes in to the freezer but I try to make the most out of a meal, e.g. a roast chicken will do for Sunday dinner as well as sandwiches the next day and a soup or, at the very least, a stock.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Tue 24-Sep-13 12:59:56

Non-tester

When I get the chance I make a couple of big pots of stew/casserole, bolognese or chilli and freeze individual portions in Tupperware boxes for DH's lunch to take to work. We have a LOT of appropriately sized Tupperware. (and Tupperware in general blush). Unfortunately I never bother to label the boxes, so it does tend to be a bit of a 'frozen brown stuff lucky dip'!

I also bulk cook food for the fridge. I'll cook up a load of chicken thighs and roasted veggies, cooked with different flavours, designed to last a few days in a pick n mix style.

k8vincent Tue 24-Sep-13 13:54:19

I need to do it more often, but when I do bulk cook I set aside a sat am and then cook up 2 or 3 meals. I store portions of food in old takeaway tubs and then we work our way through them over the next couple of weeks. Chilli con carne and veg stew are my favourite bulk cooks. We also always over cook rice, so I have lots of half portions floating around in the freezer.

I must get into the habit of labeling my food though. Chilli con carne and spaghetti was not one of the best meals we have had, although not quite as bad as chicken pie and ice cream . . . that was not a hit.

JustBecauseICan Tue 24-Sep-13 13:57:54

Non tester.

Once a month I do a mahooooosive pot of tomato sauce from fresh overripe tomatoes bought in bulk from local greengrocer.

Ditto soups, leek and potato generally.

syskywalker Tue 24-Sep-13 15:00:50

I dont bulk cook very often simply as we are a family of six and the left overs are usually not big enough to freeze or I have to cook enough for an army.

We had the chilli con carne yesterday with baked potatoes and sour cream and all including the baby (17months) enjoyed it, although I did not add the full amount of recipe mix to tone down the spicyness.
this is also the one I think will work best for bulk cooking and freezing as it is very simple to do in one pot.
The sausage casserole will be met with some resistance by my partner as his mum over did that when he was a child when she went back to work, but we will see.

We mostly plan our week ahead including when we have the odd take away or go to inlaws, etc, it all goes on our board with a space for every day of the week. occasionally we do stray from it but usually with what we have at home any way.

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
with the chilli so far just about 6 portions for 2 adults ,8,6,3 and 1 year olds so I don't think you could stretch it as much if it was for 4 older children or adults even as my children aren't the biggests eaters also they do enjoy their food.

Freezing and the lead up to is awkward as my kitchen is quite small so it takes a lot of counter space up while cooling and needs to be covered with something like a kitchen towel to prevent, during warmer times, the odd fly from getting to it, but I do already freeze things like peppers that I use for a quick relish for things like hotdogs.

So far we have not saved much but only started it and it won't save an aweful lot of money but it will certainly make life easier, just having to take it out on some days and heat up.

we already do meal plan and will keep doing so, but I want to try and stick to it more then we do now.

I would already recommend colmans sauce mixes not necessarily all the mixes I was sent to test, but the spaghetti bolognese is your best by far I also use the for my home made lasagne, it is just a shame I can not buy this everywhere as some shops and that is large ones like tesco etc do not appear to stock it anymore and I have to make a special trip to morrisons to stock pile them.

Theimpossiblegirl Tue 24-Sep-13 19:13:13

Non-tester.

I bulk cook minced beef then remove 1/3 for cottage pies. I then add tomatoes and remove half for bolognaise sauce, adding mushrooms, herbs etc. once it's out. I use the rest for chilli, adding kidney beans, peppers and spices. It takes a bit of time but then I have a freezer full of meals.

I also always cook more dinner than we need and plate up a dish for DH to take to work the next day. Saves time and money. I prefer a snadwich though.

Theimpossiblegirl Tue 24-Sep-13 19:14:15

Or a sandwich even. smile

Countdowntess Tue 24-Sep-13 20:10:46

Tester

The sachets have arrived, thank you Colman's and mumsnet, and my first comment is 'cook once, enjoy twice' is a really really bad slogan. It just sounds like we should expect some bad reflux. I still cringe when I see it.
Also the size of the font on the packs, in particular the red pack, is really difficult to read, especially for multi-tasking mums.

I like the idea of this and the meal planning

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