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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

AndHarry Thu 03-Oct-13 12:22:43

Non-tester.

I always meal plan for each week and try to match my batch-cooking with the things I'm buying already e.g. if I'm buying basil I have to buy a whole bunch but won't use all of it so then I plan to batch-cook pasta sauce; if I'm buying meat in for 3-for-£10 range I'll buy minced beef for Bolognese sauce. I also cook double-portions of food quite a lot e.g. as a family we only need a 250g pack of minced beef for burritos but I buy the 500g pack and freeze half the filling once it's cooked. It works out more expensive in a single shop but really saves money over the month.

I use resealable sauce bags (about £1.20 for 6 or 8 in the supermarkets I use) and label with a Sharpie. For small portions that I'll use just for me, or for the baby, I use normal resealable sandwich bags, although I tend to double-bag as otherwise they leak most annoyingly.

One of my favourite things to batch-cook is bread dough. I use 1kg of flour and make up the dough until it's ready to cook, then divide into about 20 small-ish balls, wrap each one in greaseproof paper and put the lot into medium resealable sandwich bags. That way I can defrost one ball at a time as I need dough - for breadsticks, pizza bases, rolls etc.

We only have a small freezer (3 drawers) so raw meat goes in one drawer, vegetables and ice cream in another and batch cooking in another. When I batch-cook I always make sure the food is cold before I put it in the freezer. I label everything with the date and contents and rotate food so I'm using the oldest first.

WingDefence Thu 03-Oct-13 20:50:20

Argh, I just lost a massive post! Will type it all out again... sad

GetKnitted Thu 03-Oct-13 20:58:04

we bulk cook more than half of our meals, my tipis a magnetic whiteboard on the freezer door to keep track of howlong each meal has bben in there smile

WingDefence Thu 03-Oct-13 21:39:31

Tester

Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why?

First choice was the chicken casserole, followed closely by the sausage casserole. I love how the chicken casserole mix in particular takes some very plain ingredients and turns them into something quite delicious, much more so that I'd otherwise be able to achieve using, say, a stock cub, dried herbs etc.

The chicken casserole was especially enjoyed by my DS (4.9) and DD who has only been eating solids for two weeks! We had it with mash one night and couscous the second time and she wolfed it down both times grin We didn't mash or puree it, we just cut it up into tiny bits and she ate it like that. We were very chuffed.

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

Usually about 4 adult portions, plus a child portion and two baby portions.

How did you find freezing the extra portions?

Very easy. As I do whenever I freeze bulk-cooked food, I wait for the food to cool then decant it into a Tupperware box and put in the freezer just before I go to bed.

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

Honestly, I'm not sure it helped reduce food waste as when I bulk cook, I don't find that we have much wastage afterwards at all. But the mixes certainly help me save time in that I don't have to spend time trying to locate the ingredients (even if just storecupboard ingredients) and find out, eg, that I've run out of chicken stock cubes. And of course any time saved with two small children, including a 6mo baby who doesn't take too kindly to being left in her bouncy chair while I'm cooking in the kitchen, is great from my point of view. smile

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

Partially, although actually the mixes conversely allow me to create a delicious, homecooked family meal from scratch with just a few basic ingredients so as long as I have the meat and a few veg/tins of chopped tomatoes and pulses, I can decide on the evening to make something. I am now more likely to check which mixes I have in the cupboard and then ensure that I put whatever meat is needed on the shopping list.

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, because it is so much more purse-friendly to cook from scratch in the first place and these sort of meals do work well with freezing/saving for another day.

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 certainly have done so in the past and will continue to recommend packet mixes to friends and family. As I mentioned above, I find that with certain types of meals, I just cannot get the depth of flavour without using these mixes - this particularly applies to casseroles. If I really wanted to try to match or beat the flavour, recipes I have seen require a great many more ingredients and steps (eg making a roux) to get the flavour base that your mixes give.

The only mix I would not recommend to family and friends on this basis is the chilli mix. I actually find that it wasn't as flavoursome as the way I usually make chilli, but that's probably down the fact that I use my bolognaise recipe for one meal and then turn it into a chilli for the next meal so it has an awful lot of flavour packed in. I still have some portions in the freezer and I hope that the flavour will have developed once reheated.

Other Comments

You asked for any other comments from the testers.

Taking part in this survey has come at the right time for my family, with my DD just starting solid food. It means that I have made more of an effort to cook from scratch and we have all benefitted from that. I've enjoyed giving DD, and DS, some good wholesome family foods with all the main food types and has giving me back from imagination in what to serve them.

Oh I almost laughed at the idea of organising my freezer! Does anyone really colour-coordinate by food type? Food gets put wherever we can fit it! grin And what on earth is a sharpie?

Thanks again to MNHQ/Colman's for selecting me to take part in this product test. It's been great.

daisybrown Thu 03-Oct-13 22:50:51

I have a small chest freezer which I only use for my ready-made meals. I also make a few small container versions for when the kids come in after main meal times.

YonilyDevotedToYou Thu 03-Oct-13 23:01:13

Tester here, back again!

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 liked the chilli and the chicken casserole best.

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
I would say 8 adult portions.

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
It was easy and I liked the suggestions that came with the mixes about how to do it simply.

- 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 think it did, as we got more portions out than we thought and I was able to buy less meat at the supermarket the following week because I still had yummy frozen casserole!
-
After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
Yes, maybe- it will depend how stressful work is though!

- 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?
I will because it was simple and quick and made life easier after a busy day.

- 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, because they were tastier and less salty than other mixes I've tried.

Thanks for picking me- I enjoyed the challenge!

ClaimedByMe Fri 04-Oct-13 10:38:47

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?

The chicken recipe (we did the alternative with leeks and bacon) and the chilli were the biggest hits in this house.

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

We got 6 portions from the beef stew and sausages, 8 out of the chilli and the chicken we ate all at once.

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?

The freezing was fine, I just tipped into a Tupperware and put in the freezer when it was cool enough.

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

It saved money and time, and everything was eaten so it reduced waste as well.

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

I hope so, it was much easier just taking a tub out of the freezer.

- 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?

I think so as it was so nice just to take it out the freezer and to not have to think about what to make for tea that night.

- 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 would, the meals were tasty and the recipes easy to follow and the froze great and were perfectly fine when heated up.

Ness1234 Fri 04-Oct-13 16:25:11

My main tip with bulk cooking is make sure you plan your meals for the week. Its fine bulk cooking but nobody wants 30 tubs of lasagne at the bottom of the freezer.

Yawner247 Fri 04-Oct-13 17:19:08

Tester:-
- Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why?
Favourite of ours was the chicken casserole as it was very tasty and didn't have many ingredients!
- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
I would say it gave is four to five fair sized portions
- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
I froze extra portions in individual portions as opposed to freezing as a big batch of each meal
- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all? Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.
As mentioned above I froze meals in individually so we didn't all have to eat the same on the lazy nights of reheating....nice to have time off cooking!! Definitely saved a bit of money as the dog had no leftovers!!!
- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
Yes will definitely sort out meal plans for the weeks 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?
I'm going to try to do this on a regular basis as it is handy having healthy meals in the freezer ready to go when you can't be bothered to cook a big dinner.
- 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 but for us the chilli was disappointing for us as we like quite spicy food including our 2.5yr old daughter so extra chilli was needed on the second packet and was much better....lovely casserole mixes and quite like the tastes of them both even when reheated!

Thank you for allowing us to be testers ��

NumTumRedRum Fri 04-Oct-13 17:21:15

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 liked the Chilli Con Carne one best as everybody really liked it, including the DC. The least favourite was the chicken casserole but it was still nice. They were all generally good and tasted nice.

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

Well, we got a generous meal for three and a baby on the first cook. We weren't too rigid on portion sizes however and ended up with less than half to freeze. Bear in mind here however that DH has a physical job and eats like a horse.

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?

Easy, just put them into various sized plastic pots and froze them like that.

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

It definitely saved time, as I only chopped the ingredients up once and that is the time consuming part. Once the meal was cooked and frozen I was just re-heating, which takes about 6 minutes in the microwave. I found that you did not need to add any extra liquid using this method unlike the re-heat in the oven method.

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

Not more likely, because I already do to some extent.

- 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?

I will continue because I tend to do that anyway.

- 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 might do, but obviously the cost of the sachets adds to the cost of the meal and part of the point is saving money. I will buy the sachets more because they are convenient and my children like them.

icecubed Fri 04-Oct-13 20:01:09

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?

Chicken casserole was delicious and we all enjoyed it with rice

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

We got enough for a family of 4 per sachet with an extra portion to freeze for my sons lunch later in the week. We used 2 sachets for the beef casserole and made double and froze a family sized meal

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?

Fine used plastic containers

- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all?

We generally meal plan but I do find a casserole a good way of using up veg from the bottom of the fridge so yes a bit

Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.

Time yes due to batch cooking maybe a little money

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

We tend to anyway

- 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 my DH currently a SAHD has really learnt the value of bulk cooking using the mixes (otherwise he tends to make the recipe up which is not always a good thing)

- 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?

For a new / inexperienced cook they are great

We amended the recipes and used the slow cooker and they all worked v well you should change the instructions to decrease the water to use in a slow cooker on the packet

serin Fri 04-Oct-13 21:28:28

I batch cook practically every Sunday whilst I am doing the roast. I hate to have the oven on unless it is full as I feel like it is just wasting energy.

DH and I both work FT and have 3 older DC's. they are perfectly capable of reheating chilli or whatever after school but they would probably struggle to summon up the energy to start cooking it from scratch!

I make all the obvious meals like spag bol, lasagne and moussaka, pies (chicken, staek and ale etc) hot pots and Cornish pasties. I also freeze the cooked apple pulp from our trees to use in crumbles etc later in the year.

I mainly buy meat from the local butcher and as DH is vegetarian we always need to have a supply of vegi curries and burgers on stand by too.

halestone Fri 04-Oct-13 21:37:32

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?
I enjoyed the Beef Casserole most, it was really tasty and was even more tasty the second time round it was as if the flavours had intensified. 2ND Favourite was the Chilli Con Carne that again was really tasy both times. Jointly last came the Chicken casserole and Sausage casserole i found these did not have much flavour.

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
Chilli Con Carne- 5 portions
Beef Casserole- 6 portions
Chicken Casserole- 6 portions
Sausage Casseroll- 6 portions

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
I found freezing the extra portions went well, i do need to invest in ore tupperware now though.

- 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 i found it did, as normally i would just throw food out but as i was freezing portions i saved time and money, and also i waited until we had finished our meals and any left overs from the plate went in the tupperware containers. I also found that by freezing the meals i got to spend ore time with my family as i didn't have to prepare meals twice.

- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
I plan my meals for the week ahead anyway however this gave me the ability to store things so i could have it over a couple of weeks.

- 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 i have found it so much more easier doing this i was slightly worried about cooking the chicken and the sausage twice but i found that there were no problems doing this.

- 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 would definitely recommend the Chilli Con Carne and Beef Casserole as they were really tasty but i think the chicken casserole and sausage casserole were lacking in something. Also i know i added this in my last feedback but using the Colmans Dry Recipe Mixes stopped my food getting stuck to the pan so this helped in the cleaning up part so for this it gets a huge thumbs up from me.

Thank you Colmans and Mumsnet for choosing me to take part in this product test smile

mum2eci Fri 04-Oct-13 23:11:04

The main dishes I bulk cook are bolognese sauce (tend to double quantities to make lasagne also) chilli con carne, curries and soups. Lasagne, bolognese & chilli I freeze in Tupperware tubs with labels on. Soups I tend to put in freezer bags so can mould to fit in my freezer!!

hunhun007 Sat 05-Oct-13 17:09:16

Non-tester
We make cooking a family activity over the weekend, most weeks it will be Sunday. We bulk cook and freeze for at least 2 other meals.
We try to keep our freezer well organized and ALWAYS put name of the meal and date on the freezer bag or box.

ChocolateMama Sun 06-Oct-13 19:15:49

Non-Tester

I batch cook a lot and make sure I clearly label everything that goes in the freezer. It is amazing how much food you get when you cook from scratch. For example, when I make Shepherds Pie with 200g mince etc, I probably get about 8 portions as I bulk it out with lots of veg etc. Cooking from scratch is definitely the way forward. I have only become a decent cook since having the children and having a reduced household income, but we eat healthier than we ever have before.

Punkatheart Sun 06-Oct-13 23:01:06

Non-tester:

I have never found meal-planning to be sustainable, especially with a fussy teen who prefers to be spontaneous and eat what/when she chooses.

I don't think I could bear to colour coordinate my freezer - my life is too busy.

I scour good supermarkets for bargains and then adapt. I also have a mini-freezer. There are only two of us and it means that food doesn't get forgotten - we eat more fresh food and it's easier and quicker to clean.

- Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why?
our favourites were the chicken and beef casseroles, they weren't as overwhelming as the others .We were not a lover of the sausage one.

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
We got 8 from 2 packets so one left over from each packet

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
Honestly a bit of a faff, the instructions about how to freeze and defrost suggested thawing before recooking, my boys want something they can bung in the microwave at the spur of the moment from frozen.

- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all? Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.
As someone who usually cooks from scratch anyway I didn't notice a huge difference but then I am at home most days so can see the attraction if you are not. In this house left overs would usually go in the fridge and be demolished pretty quickly so I do wonder how long the portions I froze will actually be in the freezer before anyone actually eats them if there was something more accessible and quick sitting in the fridge

- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
I did find myself planning the week ahead more rather than just cooking spur of the moment and this was reflected in my weekly shop-

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 I think I will particularly now the weather is colder and stews/casseroles are more often on the menu though not totally convinced much will actually get as far as the freezer!-

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 would certainly recommend bulk cooking as a sensible option though not necessarily using packet mixes whilst I think they have their place for meals made when time is short there really is no substitution for a meal made from scratch though I realise this is not an option for many people

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Oct-13 10:40:38

Thanks to everyone for their feedback and comments. Congratulations to YonilyDevotedToYou (tester) and woodchuck (non-tester) who each won a £150 M&S voucher.

whattodoo Mon 14-Oct-13 18:27:06

I did the chilli con carne at the weekend. I chucked in loads more variety of veg than the recipe suggests. it was very tasty and I've frozen some that will provide another couple of meals for 2 adults,1child.
I really like keeping these in store for when I can't be bothered to cook from scratch.

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