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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

Countdowntess Tue 24-Sep-13 20:16:36

How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
I try and do the most of my cooking in bulk because I work FT and have 4 DC's so it is very difficult to drum up healthy meals at 6pm every week night.
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 already cooked and frozen the chicken casserole, beef casserole and sausage casserole. I do not plan to cook the chilli because the DC's wont eat it and it is a bit bland for me and DH.
Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?
Yes I meal plan every week and shop online. I rely on doing this otherwise I find it too difficult to maintain a healthy balanced diet for the family. It takes the stress out of my week and saves quite alot of money.

Countdowntess Tue 24-Sep-13 20:21:01

I really liked the tip Colman's sent of freezing half the cooked meal in a tinfoil lined pot, then removing the frozen tinfoil/meal package to the freezer. When meal required just unwrap and straight into the pot and into the oven. That is a clever tip and I would never have thought of doing that.

WingDefence Tue 24-Sep-13 22:55:36

Tester

Firstly, I didn't realise only 20 were going to get chosen so I'm chuffed smile

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

Probably once or twice a week. Mostly spag bol turned into chilli or casseroles/slow cooker recipes (less since my slow cooker broke last month).

- 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've made chicken casserole so far (and also a Colman's lamb hotpot mix but this wasn't sent to me as part of the trial). I think chilli ie mince-based meals are best for bulk cooking.

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

No, not really. Perhaps one or two nights ahead.

stephgr Wed 25-Sep-13 02:28:34

Non tester

My tips
When cooking, make more than you need so you can freeze some for another time
Soups are very easy to batch cook and freeze well. Just double or treble the ingredients, cook, cool and split into portions before freezing.
Cook a large batch of tomato pasta sauce, bolognese sauce, cheese sauce etc and split into several portions before freezing. You can then use these to make a variety of different meals.
Cakes and biscuits freeze well for up to 3 months but it's best to ice cakes after they have thawed.
Label foods carefully with dates when they were made
Wrap foods carefully to avoid 'freezer-burn' but leave enough room for the foods to expand. Or use freezer bags, thick cling film, aluminium foil, foil trays, plastic boxes or containers.
Defrost foods over night in the fridge or use the defrost setting on the microwave.

CheeryCherry Wed 25-Sep-13 03:18:05

Non tester here. I only have a small freezer so there is no need for colour coding etc, I just write on the tubs or bags with a permanent pen. I usually cook in bulk on a Sunday, making a mince based dish and separating it into a chilli, spag bol and a lasagne or cottage pie. I then freeze one or two dishes for the end of the week or when time is tight. If I make a pasta sauce I will make double do that one can be frozen, and the same goes for cooked fruit, which I bag up to save room.
I meal plan every week, chatting with the family for ideas/suggestions over dinner as I jot down the weekly shopping list - just makes my life easier.

JS06 Wed 25-Sep-13 08:51:09

Non-Tester

I've read some really helpful tips here, I'm often snookered by lack of freezer space though.

I love to watch a tv programme with tips and hints or read a magazine or newspaper article about 'best practice'. It can make me feel a failure that I'm not adopting all the advice but I'm reckoning that if I take a piece of someone elses experience every now and again then it's helpful.

The most I cook is to do double quantities, more often than not if it's baking with a cake or biscuits I usually give half away so that it's all eaten fresh and a thank you to our neighbour who keeps an eye on things. Stews etc seem to taste so much better after a night in the fridge and a bit of maturing time so these are popular and easy to do in a big slow cooker. Sometimes I tend to use the same old stock ingredients and my dishes can seem to taste the same after they've been done by me, that's why I like some of the ready mixes to give a flavour burst even though I can't quite get over thinking its a bit of a cheat.

ClaimedByMe Wed 25-Sep-13 10:30:13

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?

The only thing I really cook in bulk is soup in the winter, I just never think to cook in bulk.

- 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 with all of them, the chilli, beef casserole and sausage casserole all worked fine with the bulk cooking and there is half of each in the freezer, the chicken casserole even with cooking double all got eaten in one night which I am glad as I don't think the chicken would have been as nice frozen and reheated.

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

I usually have a fair idea what we will be having in the week although not very good at sticking to it!

NationMcKinley Wed 25-Sep-13 10:33:27

Non Tester:

I only have a small freezer so when I make soups or pasta sauces I make them with as little water / stock as possible so they're very thick and concentrated thereby taking up less space. When they're defrosted and ready to cook I just add more water / stock then grin

pussinwellyboots Wed 25-Sep-13 14:52:22

I partly bulk cook and try to have available single meal sizes of the most useful component in the freezer. For example I buy quality mince in bulk, divide it up into 500g portions and place in freezer bags - I write on the contents with a permanent marker. I make bolognase sauce and cottage pie fillings in bulk and portion up to freeze and then defrost one and assemble the lasagne/cottage pie. I'm sure that I can learn a lot more about bulk cooking a freezing.

missorinoco Wed 25-Sep-13 15:04:36

Non tester.

I bulk cook. If I make a family meal like shepherds pie/casserole/Irish stew I double the recipe and freeze half. I save margarine/spread tubs for this. I can usually work out what is in the freezer as I label them, but I get caught out in the fridge because I forget, and think it is butter.

Sometimes I split the portions into smaller sizes for children's meals. I also bulk cook soup when I make this.

I have an overly large slow cooker, which helps/forces me to do this. Any meal in the slow cooker would feed 5+ adults, leaving me no choice but to cook extra or it doesn't cook properly. I don't recommend this as a strategy though - prepping that quantity of food means it isn't feasible to chuck something in the slow cooker before work.

BadlyWrittenPoem Wed 25-Sep-13 16:30:07

How do you organise your freezer space?
I have sections for things like meat, veg, dairy, bread and baby milk sections for batch cooked meals, a misc section and a section for freezing things in when they're first made.
Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend?
I label the tops of lids of meals I make and if possible I try to have them divided into one drawer of meals that go with pasta and one of meals that go with rice. It does vary though and some go with either or with potato but it makes things easier to find in a rush.
How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?
I can't say meal planning is key to reducing food waste - I'd say batch cooking has a bigger impact on avoiding waste. What meal planning does is enables me to ensure that we have a reasonable variety over each week.

WowOoo Wed 25-Sep-13 17:47:52

Non tester

I often cook in bulk and then freeze. I don't like to put stickers on my Tupperware so I put some paper with what's inside and how many portions, whether it's spicy etc.

I have similar things in similar sections - meals section, bread section, veg section, stocks and soups etc.

I found some great thickish bags for liquids - Pour and Store. I use these for gravy, stock and soup.

BrummyMummy2012 Wed 25-Sep-13 17:50:39

None tester
As a mum of 6, I really don't need to freeze anything I cook. I do cook more than we need though, and I refrigerate it for the next day. Especially during the winter, we always have a massive pot of 'something' on the cooker, be it a stew or curry. I find as long as you've got a decent selection of seasonings in your cupboard, you can make the cheapest, easiest, tastiest and healthiest meals for next to nothing and still have some left over to freeze or use the next day.

I have used Coleman's packets in the past but as my family has grown I don't buy them anymore as would need several packets per meal. I'm particularly interested in this thread as 'good once, eat twice' suggests to me a larger packet that makes up double portions.
If Coleman's made bigger packets I would be more inclined to use them again as I and my boys really enjoyed them x
Can some of the testers let me know please, or send me a link to the testers reviews? Thanks x

twinteresting Wed 25-Sep-13 17:51:07

Non tester lurking to read later.

BrummyMummy2012 Wed 25-Sep-13 17:52:52

Please ignore the bad grammar in my last post, i blame my phone.
I meant *cook once, eat twice

RubyRR Wed 25-Sep-13 18:17:37

My tubs for the freezer are size ordered, small ones for meal for 1, medium size for soups and the I have some freezer to oven dishes for lasagne etc. My current lasagne is going down really well, I cook lots of mince do spaghetti bolognese for that evening and make 2 Lasagnes, one for fridge one for freezer, I work shifts so I need to able to cater for different scenarios of who is eating when.

LindySfarne Wed 25-Sep-13 18:38:04

We have a whole freezer drawer we keep topped up with extra portions of meals ready for a quick reheat.

I usually serve up an average amount of meat for the first time we eat the meal, then the freezer portions are smaller which I pad out with a can of beans or lentils to make it stretch further.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 25-Sep-13 18:50:17

Invest in a huge pan. It doesn't have to be expensive. I have a £35 non-stick pasta pan from JL, it's dishwasher-safe, and my most frequently used pan. That way you can cook a double quantity of soup/stew etc, feed the family tonight and freeze a family portion, too.

I mark my tubs with post-it place markers. They are made of some sort of plastic, you can right on them in pencil, and they peel off easily withou leaving any residue.

BlackberrySeason Wed 25-Sep-13 19:27:02

I agree with huge pan and also actually eating contents of the freezer once you have frozen ahead!

BornToFolk Wed 25-Sep-13 19:40:21

Non-tester

I often bulk cook. It's only me and DS (5) and it's really hard to cook things like spaghetti bolog in a 1-adult-plus-1-small-child portion, so I do a big pot then portion it up and freeze. I usually use takeaway containers for the freezer and label them up with masking tape and a Sharpie. The masking tape is good as it just peels off. As well as writing on what the food is, I also write how many portions it is as I'll do a variety of me only, DS only and me plus DS so I always have something suitable to hand.

I freeze everything! I've got two fridge freezers and the freezer bits are always full. As well as freezing leftovers, I freeze bread, milk, cheese and butter (especially if I see a good deal on cheese and butter, I'll stock up). If I use half a can or jar of something I'll stick the rest in the freezer. Odd ends of bread get thrown in there too, or if I'm particularly organised I'll make it into breadcrumbs first.

I absolutely hate waste! I avoid it by meal planning so that I cook things that require a lot of fresh ingredients soon after shopping and have freezer/cupboard based meals later in the week. I also buy fresh veg as I need it, from the market to avoid that "I just popped into Sainsburys for some salad and came out with a trolley load" scenario. Anything that can't be frozen goes into my Bokashi bin and then into the compost.

BananaPie Wed 25-Sep-13 20:30:54

Non tester: I bulk cook bolognaise and chilli con carne quite regularly, probably about twice a month. Freeze in portions in Tupperware.

What's the point of the packets though? I've not used them since student days.

Non-tester
I don't tend to bulk cook main meals as with a youngish family of 5 the portions from shop are usually about right, sometimes we have leftover bolognaise sauce but that is usually used for cold pasta lunches the next day.
I do bulk 'cook' lunch stuff, mainly making and freezing jellies and also cakes. When there is a birthday party I make two cakes, one for show and one to be cut up before the party and put in party bags, as it saves 10-15 min party time. The 'show' cake is then scoffed the next day cut up and frozen for lunches for the next few weeks.

sealight123 Wed 25-Sep-13 20:57:45

Non-Tester
How do you organise your freezer space? Everything is put in its own group- Meats, sweet treats, potato based, frozen bread/bakery and then other lol
Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? We don't colour coordinate or sharpie...but I think this may be the way forward now smile
How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste? We bulk buy our meat then seperate them into ziplock bags for us to use for each family meal. We eat our leftovers as packed lunches the next day (the joys of having a microwave at work :P) and we have a dog...so she occasionally gets a few titbits...when she's good ofcourse

themummyonthebus Wed 25-Sep-13 21:38:54

Non tester.

I mostly cook one pot type recipes which are easier to portion out.
I only serve up in the kitchen to dissuade DH from using up the leftovers before they have a change to be left over.
I know use aluminium trays to freeze leftovers as I find food in bags pretty unappetising.
I always write the date by which I want to have eaten the food, rather than the date at which it's frozen as it's easier to identify what needs to be eaten.
I stack the trays in date order, oldest on top.
I generally put cooked leftovers aside and reheat in the microwave but occasionally I divvy everything up before cooking, in which case I write the cooking instructions on the tray lid.

ScienceRocks Wed 25-Sep-13 22:49:05

I reduce waste by meal planning week to week, bearing in mind what I already have in the fridge or cupboards. Internet grocery shopping makes a big difference as I don't impulse buy and just stick to my list.

I rarely bulk cook but instead freeze leftovers if we have them. Small portions (like bolognaise sauce) go in a designated cd drawer. Larger portions go in my designated "home cooked ready meal" drawer. I do have Tupperware but prefer to use old margarine containers, as they label better and I don't worry about them getting stained. Everything gets a sticker with the date, contents and no of portions on it. I buy cheap labels from the pound shop and use a biro for writing as it doesn't smudge or fade.

I make an exception to not bulk cooking for soup, which I freeze in old cream containers as these are the perfect size for me to defrost for lunch. These get labelled as above.

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.

RubySparks Sat 28-Sep-13 19:25:30

Non tester, not very organised about it but I freeze soups particularly lentil in fairly small amounts as son very keen on it. Also freeze left over pasta bolognese, chilli and even plain rice if I've made too much and it's not being used for someone's lunch. Also make home made breadcrumbed (gluten free breadcrumbs) fish which freezes well.

Similarly freeze crumble topping (again gluten free). A handy one for me is tomato sauce for pizza topping (gluten free base) frozen in ice cubes or freezing the actual pizzas as tend To get two bases in one pack. Cottage pie freezes well too so generally make two, eat one, freeze one.

Also check use by dates on chicken and mince and freeze if something is nearly out of date.

poachedeggs Sat 28-Sep-13 21:11:48

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

It's pretty chaotic but in general the basket is full of frozen fruit and veg, while the body of the freezer is a rammy of bits and bobs sandwiched between a bottom layer of milk and a top layer of bread. I store leftovers in tupperware but don't bother labelling. I like the frisson of excitement when you don't know what's coming out of the microwave!

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

Yes, although I don't do it properly. I have a set of basic meals which are loosely pulled out of the hat depending on what I have bought on offer that week. So if I have a chicken to roast, we will have chicken one day, curry/enchiladas another day, then noodle soup. There are always freezer essentials such as white fish for making fish pies etc. DH works weird shifts so often he takes leftovers instead of me freezing them.

I don't think we waste much. DH is a bloody hoover so nothing gets as far as the bin.

RachelHRD Sat 28-Sep-13 21:16:06

Tester - thanks for choosing me!!

How often do you cook in bulk. If not very often why do you think is?
Not as often as I'd like to. I keep on planning on getting into the routine of bulk cooking and freezing but never quite get around to it. Now it's coming into winter I'd like to get better organised and plan ahead more which I think is where I'm going wrong at the moment.

Which recipes are you going to/have you already tried? Which do you think will work best for batch cooking?
I've tried the chill con carne so far which was very tasty, easy to prepare and simple to portion up and freeze. This is a firm favourite in our family and one I have batch cooked in the past.
I think the beef casserole and sausage ones will work well with batch cooking. I've not tried batch cooking with chicken before so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Do you usually plan your meals for the week ahead or not?
It's somethin I keep on meaning to start doing but never quite get there!! Would like to start doing it and I've even invested in a weekly meal planner notepad to get motivated!

Countdowntess Sun 29-Sep-13 10:01:49

We have tried a few of the frozen meals and all of them have required more liquid when re-heating.

The DC loved the sausage casserole which I served with yorkshire puddings and broccoli. I liked that it only took me 30 minutes to put dinner on the table after a long day at work.
The flavours seem to be quite DC friendly but it was not quite as simple as putting in the oven for a re-heat. It did require more additions of hot water and stirring so that it didn't burn unless I am doing something wrong.
The DC have already asked me to cook that one again so thumbs up from them.

gazzalw Sun 29-Sep-13 15:17:38

Non-tester here - my biggest tip would be to make the most of seasonal fruit/veg and cook batches of soup/fruit mixes accordingly. And keep a look out for mega reduced items when shopping. We made a large vat of marmalade a couple of years ago with some Seville oranges that were reduced to about 40p per 2 Kilo bag (seriously)! It all helps.

LilyBossom Sun 29-Sep-13 18:17:31

Tester

- Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why? I liked the chili best - flavour was good and tasted natural and home-made.
- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried? 4 good sized portions from each single packet mix.
- How did you find freezing the extra portions? Good idea and easy to freeze - put in freezer bags in individual portions. Took no time at all.
- 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, by freezing portions they didn't sit in the fridge forgotten for days which would then mean they would probably be thrown away and wasted. Def saved time and money. Future dinners all ready to defrost and eat - what's not to like.
- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead? Yes, I hope so. Would love to save time and money without compromising quality or taste of food.
- 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 will. Have bought decent freezer bags and will certainly freeze portions. If I fridge them am unlikely to eat next day, boring to eat same meal 2 days running. If frozen would certainly eat them at later date.
- 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 I would recommend - quick and easy, cook once and eat twice. Bit of a no brainer really.

YonilyDevotedToYou Sun 29-Sep-13 18:27:37

Tester here

How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
I do cook enough for two meals at least once a week- but this is usually the result of cooking too much by accident, rather than planning in an organised way!
- 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 like the look of them all and have already made the chicken casserole and the chilli. The casserole has been most effective so far as it has veg in it so the second portion only needed a jacket potato bunging in the oven to make a no-fuss meal.
- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?
Yes I do plan for us, but not in a fixed way- so I have an idea of what I will cook each week but not on which days, then we discuss it in the morning or sometimes the night before.

Non-tester:

Whenever I have made the effort to freeze any leftovers etc, I have always found that they were never at their best when used the second time around. Our freezer isn't that big so cooking in bulk at the moment is limited and as we are a fairly large family we rarely have leftovers but it is something that I want to make more of an effort with.

MrsAJB Mon 30-Sep-13 12:36:56

Oh my goodness, reading this has made me feel like a failure! I've never dreamed of batch cooking food and colour coding tubs in a freezer! On the positive side, I enjoy cooking good wholesome, healthy food every day. Any left overs go in the dog so nothing goes to waste.

nicholab85 Mon 30-Sep-13 12:48:20

Non tester...

I bulk cook anything like chilli, bolognaise, soup, stew, casserole etc, i bag up individual portions and then put into clip n lock boxes to be stacked neatly in the freezer..each box has a small piece of paper in it stating what it is, what date it was made and also cooking instructions in case my other half is cooking! Makes life incredibly easy on the busy family days!!

NumTumDeDum Mon 30-Sep-13 14:47:11

Ok I have my Colmans packets, which include Chicken casserole, beef casserole, sausage casserole and chilli. I have used all of these mixes before. The one I have used most often is the sausage casserole, I tend to do chilli from scratch - but- dd now likes a mild chilli so I'm planning to test the packet mix on her because I can't seem to make my version mild enough for her.

I tend to cook in bulk regularly, it saves money and I do try to use up everything I buy so towards the end of the week you will get fairly eclectic meals with odds and sods thrown in. These mixes do lend themselves well to that kind of cooking. If we have too much for one meal I will freeze variously sized portions in those plastic boxes you get from takeaways as they stack brilliantly in the freezer. I'll do portions for dd, portions for all of us, jacketpotato sized portions etc. to reheat I will microwave them (either from frozen or if I've thought ahead (rare) from defrosted).

I'll be trying all of the packets as I know they're all nice!

Lent1l Mon 30-Sep-13 14:55:03

Non-tester. I actually have two freezers, one is a fridge freezer and the other a small single freezer bought when a rental property had only a fridge with an ice box.

I use the little freezer for storing extras. This is those items which I see on offer and know I'll use so buy a few, or when we make a large batch of something and then we can have quick easy meals another time.

I particularly found making a large batch of mince and onion and dividing into portions was great for when I'd just given birth. I didn't feel like cooking but I could easily get the mince out and add a tin of tomatoes to make an easy bolognese, or top with mashed potato and make a quick shepherd's pie. I will certainly be reading the ideas and stocking my freezer before my second comes along as those first few weeks the last thing you want to do is cook but with a child already in the hosue you need to have nutritous food that is easy to prepare.

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 chili and the sausage casserole best as I guessed we would, they are already family favourites and were very tasty. smile

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
I made each dish using 2 packet mixes and this made 8 portions which I added side dishes (e.g. rice/jacket potato/cous cous) to as we ate them.

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
I found it fine, I used plastic tupperware type tubs and froze in individual portions as this suits our household more than freezing it as family sized 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.

It did help as I planned our meals for the fortnight rather than not planning and things going off.

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

Yes I will be upping my game in terms of meal planning and bulk cooking.

- 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 will, it saves me time and encourages me to make sure we are eating healthy home cooked meals rather than relying on quick cook, processed stuff.

- 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 I would, I've found them nice taste wise and they've helped me to throw dishes together easily when I'm busy.

Firewall Mon 30-Sep-13 23:13:32

Non tester

Freezing food is fantastic, soups are great as well as bolognaise. To save space I use freezer bags which are fab. It may seem a bit OCD but what I try to do if I can is use a small-medium rectangle clip tub, line with a freezer bag, fill with content, tie the bag, put lid on and freeze. Once it's frozen I take the bag out of the tub, and this makes perfect 'bricks' making it easy to arrange in the freezer compartments and means you don't need many tubs which can take up a lot of space.

We always roughly plan our weekly meals and buy what is necessary for the week. The other great thing about freezing is it means if you feel like something different or going out for a meal, it means the food will keep and you have a bit more flexibility.

SuedeEffectPochette Tue 01-Oct-13 11:00:56

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

The chilli con carne one, but made with quorn mince. Just the right amount of spice and the recipe was very easy.

- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
I would say either 8 medium adult portions or 10 much smaller child's portions (but I bulked out the mince with a few green lentils, which were a very tasty addition).
- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
Easy, but if I bulk cooked more than twice a week I might run out of containers!

- 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 we were very good about food waste anyway. However, the time saving was a revelation and I feel a bit of a twit that I hadn't thought to bulk cook a bit more. It only takes a bit longer to chop a few more veg and saves a whole day of cooking when we defrost it!
- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
I am likely to plan ahead, yes, but I always did do a lot of planning.
- 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?
Definitely, yes, as I enjoy the afternoon off it gives me later when I defrost the earlier meal!

- 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, yes, but cooking is not generally a topic of conversation that comes up that often!

Non Tester -

How do you organise your freezer space? - I have a drawer for meat, a drawer for frozen veg such as broccoli, peas etc, another for 'junk' like pizza and icecream and the last is for meals I have made in bulk and then frozen.

Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? I use sticky labels so I can write down what is in each tupperware tub/pot.

How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste? Meal plannig certainly helps, we usually sit down and agree a list of meals for the coming week before we go shopping, so we know exactly what we need to buy, we find it results in less 'impulse' buying, and ultimately less waste.

Tips I think most mumsnetters do this anyway, but my slow cooker is my best friend especially for bulk/batch cooking. I use it to make big portions of chilli, sauces, stew, goulash, gumbo, I can then portion it out and freeze some so we have a stock of meals.

lagoonhaze Tue 01-Oct-13 15:25:33

This thread is amazing.

I do a bulk of bolgnese but stuggle with other meals.

Recently tried shepherds pie and as I hate doing mash made sense to make more than one.

Definaltey meal planning is way forward. We use bags and sharpie pens.

CMOTDibbler Tue 01-Oct-13 15:29:41

Non tester.

I only bulk cook by default as I always overcook and then freeze. My freezer would make others weep as theres no organisation, but meals are frozen in plastic containers from the thai takeaway and then sharpied

Countdowntess Tue 01-Oct-13 18:33:11

Quick update.

We have now tried the chicken and beef casseroles. I warmed one through in the oven as directed and boiled some gnocchi which I drained and tipped into the casserole. Again the casserole needed more water when being warmed through in the oven.

The gnocchi went down really well with the chicken casserole so I did this again with the beef casserole but this time warmed it gently on the cooker top which worked a lot better.

The DC's are asking for these meals again and it has really got me back into the routine of shopping, bulk cooking and freezing, dinner on the table within 30 minutes of being home from work/school and everyone being a lot less stressed. I need to keep this up.

NumTumRedRum Tue 01-Oct-13 20:17:02

I've tried two of the packets now - the Chilli Con Carne and the Sausage Casserole. Two more to go.

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

Sausage casserole and chilli are both meals we eat a lot anyway as they are cheap in terms of the meat used. I particularly liked the Chilli because my dd (5) is reasonably adventurous with food but doesn't like spicey heat. This packet mix was tasty without being hot. It was a winner with her and me and DH just added chilli sauce.

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

Now this is the problem. If we have a big pot of something I will ladle a generous portion. This means inevitably we over eat a bit and then there isn't enough for a full meal for four of us with what is left over. I would have to be rigid about separating the meal into two equal portions and then serving up. Which, frankly, isn't going to happen.

- How did you find freezing the extra portions?

Easy, just did what I normally do, which is to portion it up and freeze in takeaway plastic boxes because they stack nicely. I ignored the instructions which came with the packets - something about wrapping it in foil in the original casserole dish then freezing blah blah blah - load of nonsense. I can microwave straight from the freezer if I've forgotten to defrost. I see no point putting the oven on again as per the instructions - that's cooking twice!

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

Well buying anything in bulk is cheaper, and yes it does save time and money by meaning that the oven is on less and if I've defrosted it really doesn't take more than a few minutes to re-heat in the microwave. It helps with food waste as all the meals lend themselves to chucking in odds and ends of things in your fridge. I dislike the slogan - cook once enjoy twice.

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

Nope, I'm just not organised enough. I cook what I have in - and I try to use everything up - if anything I have got into a habit in terms of shopping - I buy only what I think I will use.

- 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 already cook in bulk and will continue to do so. It had never occurred to me to use two packet mixes at once before however.

- 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?

Possibly. But to be honest, I can cook all four of the meals featured from scratch using store cupboard herbs and spices and don't have to buy two packet mixes all the time, which adds to the cost which is why most people bulk cook.

xxxkadzxxx Tue 01-Oct-13 22:46:05

I am not too bad at bulk cooking actually! Not a very good cook though ;) lol! I am very hot on food waste and limit it as much as possible, the children have to eat everything on their plates as do we. If there is any food left over from cooking, i try to re use it the next day.
We dont use any colour coding in the freezer or fridge but there is a place for everything so 1) it does't get missed and 2) we know where everything is. Eg;frozen veg is in one drawer in the freezer, meat is in another, ice cream and treats in another and we have a drawer for fish.
In the fridge we keep fruit and veg in the drawers, milk and jams in the door, leftover foods/half cans on one shelf and unopened foods such as meat, yogurts etc on another shelf!

Yawner247 Wed 02-Oct-13 18:15:32

Tester
Just had chilli con carne very tasty but not spicy enough for our family so will add chillies to the next one for us!! smile

Countdowntess Wed 02-Oct-13 19:05:05

Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why?
It was the casserole mixes that the family liked best, they were versatile and could be served with potatoes, gnocchi etc so were considered to be different meals by the DC. This is always a bonus my DC are not that fond of too much repetition with main meals.
How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried
The meals fed 4 Dc's for two meals, I would be concerned that those portion sized would not be enough for adults.
How did you find freezing the extra portions?
No problem at all I used gallon freezer bags with permanent marker written on with what they were and date cooked.
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 did help save food waste. I only ordered exactly what I needed with the shopping and everything got cooked and frozen so no vegetables other than the allocated side veg were hanging about the fridge.
After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
Yes this has really got me back into a routine with bulk cooking. I had forgotten just how much stress it removes from my week.
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 it has really helped the family routine and I have been organised enough to bulk cook for DH to take his meals away frozen for the week so he is very happy.
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 recommend bulk cooking and using the Colman's to get you started but would be concerned about relying on then because they do contain some added extra's that can be removed by bulk cooking without them.

Non-tester...

We use a slow cooker to save on energy used during cooking and allow me to cook a large amount in one go. We then freeze the excess into one-person tubs, making it quick and easy to defrost when DH is out (and the temptation to order takeaway is high!)

We try not to buy more food than we need and sometimes therefore buy a more expensive but smaller portion to avoid food waste. I like to make smoothies with left over fruit/veg and am investigating making ice lollies too.

LegoCaltrops Wed 02-Oct-13 23:16:44

Non-tester here.

I cook often but also bulk cook and/or freeze leftovers , or make extra on purpose so there will be extra to freeze.

I save the plastic takeaway cartons when we get them, wash & reuse, good for curry (as you can't get the curry smell out no matter how well you clean them).

For stew, bolognaise etc, freeze in single portions. Work out roughly how much is a portion, put in a freezer bag, then freeze in the bag, inside a freezer safe plastic box. When fully frozen, gently remove from the box & ta da! A square block of stew that fits easily into the freezer. It takes a little more planning but really saves on freezer space in the long term.

Label EVERYTHING with a sharpie or similar, include the contents, date made and/or use by. Label the bags before you fill them - trying to write on a squishy, frozen bag, or a bag of frozen cubes of baby food, is over-rated.

Never stand at your freezer with the door open, deciding what to have for dinner. The longer it's open, the warmer it will get & have to cool down again. Plus, it will take moisture from the air which will freeze all around the door frame, so you have to defrost it sooner or risk losing loads of freezer space.

Wrap raw meat, fish, bread, etc in greaseproof paper, then in a freezer bag. Seal with a twist tie or freezer clip. The paper will protect against freezer burn. Slice bread before you freeze it & don't squash it in - if you want to just get one or two slices out, it's a lot easier if they aren't compressed together. Exclude all the extra air from bags, containers etc wherever possible. This will help for 3 reasons: firstly, it will reduce freezer burn. Secondly, it will reduce the chance of the container bursting if the contents expand as they freeze. Thirdly, it will take up less space in your freezer.

We have a drawer for meat, one for fish, one for veg & vegetarian food, one for bread & ready meals, & one for sweet things, frozen fruit, & anything for DD who is a toddler so I still make batches of things just for her, eg unsweetened rice pudding, or super mild curry.

When DD was weaning, she had her own drawer as I made all her food. Divide into baby food trays, then as soon as it's frozen, push it out into labelled bags. Make sure you have a decent supply of baby food trays as one pan of food can make more than 20 of those little portions.

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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