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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

ScienceRocks Wed 25-Sep-13 22:49:20

Non tester, by the way.

Turnipvontrapp Wed 25-Sep-13 23:14:46

Non tester

I don't do meal planning but I should really. I do bulk cook things like chilli, spag bol and soup.

And I cooked some black eyed beans the other week and froze some of them to use at a later date.

Do not colour code or organise my freezer, don't have the time nor the inclination to do that!

ShatnersBassoon Thu 26-Sep-13 09:24:12

Non-tester.

I'm dreadful at keeping the freezer organised, so the only things I bulk cook are dishes based on minced beef and vegetables combined eg chilli con carne, Bolognese sauce. That way, I know I can defrost any of the unrecognisable tubs of stuff, and will be able to put rice, pasta or potatoes in some form with it to make a meal smile

skyeskyeskye Thu 26-Sep-13 09:40:27

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?

A great idea for storage is reusing plastic takeaway boxes, or if you want bigger portions, then use bigger tubs, but line with a good freezer bag, thick and secure. Pour the food into the bag, tie it, put the lid on and then freeze. Once the food is frozen, you can remove the bag from the tub and then stack it in the freezer after labelling it. It saves on having to buy so many tubs.

Meal planning is a good idea, buy the exact food that you want in advance for each days meals, then cook it each day. I usually double up on potatoes, so if you have them boiled one day, you can fry them or pop them in the oven the next day with a bit of oil and some herbs. I often roast the carrots in with the potatoes now as well, in order to save on washing up and water for steaming etc.

The easiest meals to batch cook are usually anything with mincemeat in.

icecubed Thu 26-Sep-13 14:05:13

*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?*

We probably manage it once a week - should be twice

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

We have done the chicken / beef and sausage casserole so far. They would all work well for bulk cooking IMO

We have used them in the slow cooker and changed the amount of water we added to about 1/4 pint (might have been red wine not water in the beef one! wink )

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

Yes I have a list of meals we have all of the ingredients for on the fridge and then maybe one frozen meal we made the week before

tinypumpkin Thu 26-Sep-13 19:13:31

Non tester here too. I do bulk cook soup and pasta sauce etc. I have to say that I don't meal plan but probably should. Tupperware is my friend for storing but I don't organise my freezer for batch cooking and storage. I don't have the time (or inclination!)

maxandmummy Thu 26-Sep-13 23:11:29

Tester here.

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?

We hardly ever, we lived in a flat with minimal freezer space but now live in a bigger place and still have our bad habits!

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

We love chilli and the casseroles.

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

Yes! We always do a meal plan before we shop.

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?

We loved the chilli best. Though our LO did find it really a bit too strong for him (and he does love spices)

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?

We cooked it to begin with in the slow cooker. Ended up with 6+ portions once I added a few extras to bulk it out. Then froze the rest of it for the next week (or my brother to steal!)

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?

We did it in a tupperware as we had no foil (and kept forgetting to buy it!) and had no problems. It did make the sauces a bit watery when we reheated but that was probably our fault.

- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all? Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.

Yes! It allowed my OH to bung something in the oven that was healthy and wholesome without spending hours slaving away.

- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?

We've started to plan more than a week ahead and have a 2 week plan now.

- 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?

See above.

- 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?

Yes, for those with families especially but I also recommended it to work colleagues that lived alone as most meats and veg would get wasted otherwise.

LilyBossom Fri 27-Sep-13 11:40:21

How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is? I cook in bulk maybe once a fortnight. Am not organised enough to do it more regularly.
- 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 cooked the beef stew and the chili - I think all will work equally well for bulk cooking.
- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not
Yes, I try to meal plan, but don't always stick to it.

susiey Fri 27-Sep-13 11:41:25

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 always cook in bulk sometimes by accident sometimes on purpose. I do spaghetti bolognase, chilli, lasagne, shepherds pie, mousakka , fajita mix

- 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 think the casseroles will work well I'm looking forward to trying sausage casserole and 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?

Casseroles

- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?
Yes I really try too brings cost of shopping down amazingly

halestone Fri 27-Sep-13 15:00:16

I'm a Tester smile

- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
I hardly ever cook in bulk but sometimes when i make something if there's leftovers i will freeze them particularly if was nice. I usually make to much cheese sauce when making lasagnes or cauliflower cheese and have recently started freezing it and i have found that it tastes much better after its been frozen..

- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?
So Far i have cooked the Chilli Con Carne which was really tasty first time round i only used one packet and it made about 5 portions i froze about 2 of those portions.
I have also cooked the Chicken Casserole to be honest i had to use two packets as i didn't find it had alot of flavour. That made about 6 Portions but we only ate the casserole we had bread to eat it with. If you were eating it with Mash it would go much further. I have froze 3 of those portions.
I have also cooked the Beef Casserole, that was really really tasty and so far has been my favourite. That again made 6 portions and i have froze 3 portions.
Also i have to add that normally when i make casseroles quite abit gets stuck to the bottom of the pan i didn't have this problem using the Colman's Packets.
I can't wait to try them again and also to make to sausage casserole.

- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?
Yes i usually plan my meals for the week ahead and then go and buy shopping according to that list this also helps me to budget better.

Yawner247 Fri 27-Sep-13 16:22:27

Tester

Questions to be answered at the start of the challenge:
- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk?
Once a month
If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is? Not used to cooking in large quantities
- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked?
Chicken casserole which was lovely
Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?
Chilli con carne
- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not? We try to plan the meals for the week in advance but usually change our minds!
grinsmile

SleeplessInBedfordshire Fri 27-Sep-13 16:54:42

Non tester. I do a lot of bulk cooking and prefer to freeze individual portions using food bags as this gives the most flexibility. Its important to write on them clearly though, and I've got a permanent marker for this.

whattodoo Fri 27-Sep-13 17:31:06

Tester-
I generally do a bulk cook every few weeks, but always freeze leftovers to make another quick meal.
I've done the sausage casserole which was very easy, tasty and reheated well out of the freezer.
I've also done the beef casserole. Cooked well and the whole family enjoyed it. I put in some extra veg, which to be honest came out a bit too soft after being frozen.
The chilli looks as though it will be good to bulk-cook, quick and easy.
I always meal plan to avoid waste and save time thinking up meal ideas mid-week.

flamingtoaster Fri 27-Sep-13 19:35:36

Non-Tester
How do you organise your freezer space? Meat of various kinds is together, as is veg and fish. Bread or cakes (I have to freeze glutenfree baking as it gets stale quickly) are all together.

Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? No colour coordinating but everything is labelled with the date it was made.

How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste? I don't meal plan but we have very little waste as I try to shop in small amounts and batch cook when cooking meat and freeze portions for use later.

NON TESTER

Bulk cook every few weeks, often when I have a glut of something from the garden ie I'll make gallons of spinach or beetroot soup but it happens on an ad hoc basis.

Hopelessly disorganised, sometimes label Tupperware with a sticker, sometimes don't bother then we have freezer surprise for tea!

woodchuck Fri 27-Sep-13 23:14:15

Non-tester here.

This is an area of household management i am really good at. through careful meal planning i can keep our shopping budget under £70 per week including non-food items for 2 ad 2ch and a cat. i have a list of 20 or so 'staple' meals, many of which can be prepped in advance/frozen

I am veggie, and although the rest of the family are of an omnivorous persuasion, we eat nearly all veggie meals, with the occasional roast dinner or chicken fajitas.

My dh works nights, so cooks most days, and will often have a pan of something on the stove before collecting the dcs from school. i have become a 50s husband, as he has my dinner on the table when I get home every day. Things we make in advance to freeze/ fridge and reheat include:

bolognese sauce (for spag bol, pasta bake, lasagne)
veggie chili (every Friday!, reheated with a baked spud and salad during the week. i also make chili pots with rice to take to work)
enchiladas (fridge and take to work)
roast dinner (dh will eat leftovers for lunch. dcs love a meat and stuffing sandwich in their lunchboxes)
pasta pesto with peas and fine beans (packed lunch salad eaten cold)
risotto (dh reheats and eats at work)
veggie curry (fridge or freeze, reheat in the week and eat with naan)
hearty veg soup (we eat for tea on a 'quick' day when kids have activities. DH usually makes homemade bread rolls. The leftover soup will do us for two or three days for work lunches).

I throw hardly anything away, and we always feel like we are eating well.My biggest expenditure is definitely on fresh fruit, veg and salad.

as for storage, why is this even a question? i have a regular fridge freezer. i shop once a week. I eat things when they are fresh and because we meal plan, the freezer is never empty but is never full to bursting (except for Christmas!)

I use a few tupperware freezer containers of various sizes, and label kids version (non-spicy) with a marker. Otherwise I know what things are by their contents. Mostly I use old flora tubs and recycled Innocent pots as these are perfectly portion-sized.

Cooking in bulk suits my family as we are often very busy on an evening with working late/early and kids activities and it is so helpful to have a proper meal ready to go. Saying that, I never use any sauces or packet mixes except for pesto. it is cheaper to make your own and tastes so much better

rootypig Sat 28-Sep-13 04:59:28

Non tester. I like to batch cook components of meals, rather than the meal itself, so that it is made up fresh on the day, and so I have options. Eg I make a veggie chilli bean mix. Then it can be a veggie chilli and rice, or in tortilla with egg for breakfast burritos, or quesadillas. Or meat sauce - shepherd's pie, bolognese, you get the picture...

A cheap way to label is masking tape. Survives the freezer, easy to peel! Sharpie them.

Agree ice cream tubs and margarine tubs are a good sub for tupperware, they stack and fit better, and can be recycled when they get manky.

rootypig Sat 28-Sep-13 05:03:25

Afterthought - I think doing components like this is especially helpful for vegetarians and vegans, because prep for healthy veggie food can be time consuming - eg I will bulk soak and cook bean mix and freeze in small portions. Defrosts in boiling water in minutes. Then you have the basis of a veggie pie, blitz for a hummous, add handfuls to curries for protein, mash with chopped herbs and spices for veggie burgers....

Sorry, getting carried away! I do love to organise grin

- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
I do try to bulk cook and freeze but left overs don't seem to hang around long enough here for it to be necessary. Have not really considered cooking much larger batches before. I think it would take a bit of organising on my part as I usually shop weekly as my budget is limited so wouldn't usually have extra meat in to make larger quantities

- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked?
So far I have cooked the chicken casserole and the sausage one. I passed the chilli ones on to a family member to test for me as it's not a dish we like though I think it might be the easiest to freeze.

Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?
as above the chilli-

Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?
I shop weekly at present so sort of meal plan though only half heartedly, don't always cook the things in the way I had planned when I did the shopping often find my teenagers have used stuff I meant for a meal for a late night snack!

blueberrycupcake Sat 28-Sep-13 10:04:26

Non-tester

I tend to cook a meal once a week which will do us for two days. My favourites are chilli con carne and bolognese. We'll either have it in two consecutive days or freeze half of it. If we're eating it on 2 days in a row, I'll vary it slightly such as chilli con carne with rice on the first day and with a jacket potato on the second day or bolognese with spaghetti on the first day and then make a quick lasagne on the second day with the left over mince.

My freezer is not very well organised but I do label everything with the date. I like those pour and zip freezer bags which are easier to fit in the freezer than Tupperware.

asuwere Sat 28-Sep-13 10:34:11

non-tester. I don't specifically bulk cook but often buy more meat than we need and freeze in smaller quantities. I keep a list on the freezer door of what's in there and the date it went in. It means every couple of weeks, I don't need to buy any food and just use up what's in there. I always try to freeze leftovers straight away.

NomDeClavier Sat 28-Sep-13 12:34:28

Non-tester

I have an enormous soup pan and will make large batches of soup to freeze - I can get 5 or 6 meals out of it. Portions are frozen as 'hungry adult', which means one does DH or DS and me.

Anything slow cooked is always half now, half later so that's two for one on Tuesday nights!

I bulk buy veg and fruit in season, spend an afternoon prepping and put them in bags in the freezer. It really reduces the time spent cooking dinner and I don't have to wash the magimix every time I want to grate carrot because I've grated 2kg, sliced 2kg and chopped 2kg finely one weekend.

I have a chest freezer, mostly because I'm lazy and prefer to spend a day cooking furiously once in a while and then reap the rewards for a month or so. It also drastically reduces our dependence on takeaways wink Therefore I don't tend to meal plan as such, I usually plan for Saturday to Wednesday dinners and then defrost for Thursday and Friday, and soup as needed.

I have a freezer plan on a whiteboard taped to the lid and food is labelled and dated as it goes in. Because I tend to cook a lot of a single meal/component my plan keeps foods together with a basket for 'remnants'.

NorkyButNice Sat 28-Sep-13 15:08:17

I'm a non tester.

I place a freezer bag inside a tupperware box and load leftovers into that, then put that into the freezer. Label with the food and date it was cooked. Once frozen, remove the box and you should have a box shaped frozen lump of food which stacks easily!

That's the plan anyway...

Davinaaddict Sat 28-Sep-13 17:35:19

Non tester

I really only bulk cook bolognaise but we have a fairly small freezer. I'd love a large one for the garage, but we still haven't got round to organising it. My freezer is mostly arranged by whatever I can fit it what drawer, although I try to keep groups of things together where possible.

I'm a 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?

Every two months or so I do a MASSIVE bulk cook, fortunately I have a chest freezer which makes this easy. It saves the hassle of preparing frsh homemade meals daily.

- 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'm going to cook them all, I think the chilli con carne will work well, as will the chicken casserole, purely as I have prepared my own ones of these before.

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

Yes.

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?

We have enjoyed the chicken casserole and sausage casserole so far. I am veggie so only the children had the chicken casserole and they loved it so much that even though I cooked two packets worth, I only froze 2 portions! For the sausage casserole I made half with veggie sausages, and the rest with pork and leek. The children declared this the best meal I ever cooked.

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?

We realistically got 6 portions out for a hungry 9 and 8 year old. I was more stingy with the sausage casserole, so 8 portions. I froze half.

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?

This was easy, it was more remembering to cook in a bigger casserole dish than usual.

- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all? Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.

I already bulk cook, although not since the birth of DS2 9 weeks ago, so it has spurred me back into bulk cooking for sure. Certainly saved time as now I have several "ready meals" for the coming week.

- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
Absolutely.

- 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?

Yes.

- 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?

I already have, because it actually makes bulk cooking much easier, not having to faff with multiple dry ingredients. And the children and I loved the meals.

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