Easy alternatives to buying ready meals(16 Posts)
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I work 12 hour days and DH whilst a wonderful SAHD and p/t worker can't (I mean reaaaaalllly can't he does try) cook. I'm not v good either and we seem to spend all our money on ready meals. We have 2 DS - 1 will eat most things and the other is vvvvv fussy eater. Help! I am willing to batch cook at weekends. Ideas/recipes? I try to meal plan and end up with a piece of paper with "pasta bake" written on it
Have a look at this website. Its an american based site so you might have to adjust some of the recipes as you might not get all the ingredients if you are UK based.
I'm getting ready to try the once a month cooking but I'm going to do 2 weeks to start and see how I manage.
Do a huge batch of basic mince/onions/celery/carrot/tomato puree and us it to make bolognese, chilli, lasagne, tacos.
Fajitas are really quick to cook - buy a kit for the first attempt, add chicken, onion and peppers, some plain greek yoghurt or sour cream, grated cheese, salad on the side.
if you don't own one, go buy a slow cooker. With that, a freezer, some plastic containers, here are my ideas - don't know what your fusspot will take of course.
chilli - get a big saucepan, cook as much as will fit.
casseroles - stewing steak, sausage, vegetables
nothing wrong with pasta bakes; tuna, veg, pasta, passata, chuck in, leave, eat.
chicken - casserole, curries, stir fries
anyone who can hold down a job can learn to cook. Students can learn to cook. Come off it.
Suggest that your DH/you get the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Foods book - out of the library.
That has really good simple (but non-patronising), cooking instructions, for basic 'dinner' type meals, for those who can't cook. It also has twists - eg for mince dinners, it'd describe lasagne, spag bol, etc etc.
special has the right idea - slow cooker is a must (if you've not got one you can get hold of one for around £20. Buy a 6/6.5l so you can cook for family and have leftovers)
My most used recipe is from giorgio locatelli, makes the best ragu to serve with pasta/mash/tortillas etc:
Put two kilos of minced beef, browned, two chopped carrots, a chopped celery stalk, two chopped onions, a bouquet garni, two cloves of garlic, a bottle of red wine, a litre of passata, five tablespoons of olive oil, a litre of water and some salt and pepper (this will serve eight. Cook for 8 hrs on low)
My mum gave us a slow cooker ages ago but it's been gathering dust. Thank you everyone - I'm going to give it a go at the weekend.
Ministry of food is a good book I also love BBC good food website for recipes.
Go to your butchers and buy 2lb stewing beef. Add to slow cooker, onions (two), good few carrots, parsnip or two. Few dried herbs. Add beef stock or bit of bisto gravy. (Enough to cover meat). Leave it for six hours. Perfect with new potatoes. No hassle or time needed.
CHICKEN PASTA MEAL
Another option for a quick dinner (not freezer) - fry chicken, onion, peppers add to cooked pasta and mix in pesto sauce.
There's some very good stuff in Jamie Oliver's third Naked Chef book (Happy Days with the Naked Chef, I think) about DIY readymeals where you put some fish or chicken breast in a foil packet with veg and herbs and leave it for other half to put in the oven at the appropriate time. one suggestion here
I used to find it useful when I had a baby who always wanted to breastfeed for the crucial hour before teatime because it meant I cook prep it in advance and leave it for dh to pop in the oven when he came home. You could do it in the morning and leave it for you dp.
Delia's cheat cookbook might be up your DH street. It's kind of halfway between cooking and ready prepared. Might give him some confidence.
if you eat chicken/chops etc I find it useful to marinade it then freeze it so you can take it out the nigh before and bung it in the oven with jacket spud or whatever. BBQ, tandoori, piri pir, cajun etc. Also belly pork or ribs.
I cook a lot of one pot meals and my lazy dinner is heuvos rancheros with crusty bread. There ae loads of cheap and quick pasta meals.
I don't find slow cookers very pleasant for person actually in the house...by the time you have smelt the food cooking all day you don't actually want to eat it by the evening...
Good housekeeping- Comfort foods has some lovely traditional recipes in you could see if your library could order it.
Sometimes you can prep and freeze in advance, eg I chop carrots and fry them in oil. freeze them in zip lock bags, then lob them in the pan to make soup. Onions can be chopped up and frozen in zip lock bags.
Pulses like kidney beans or lentils can be cooked for a few hours in the slow cooker and then cooled and frozen too.
Buy bacon trimmings (I get mine from the local butcher £1.50 for 2lb) and freeze them in a labelled tub.
They can be added frozen to a variety of meals if fried off at the same time as e.g. Onions and garlic, and make a meal taste meaty for about 10p worth of meat at a time!
Buy a whole salmon and get them to cut it into steaks (<1in thick) then two fillets. Marinade the steaks and wrap them in foil. Label the foil and freeze raw. On a work day you can put the salmon in foil in the (switched off) oven to defrost and it'll be ready to cook for dinner.
The fillets are good steamed and added to mash and formed into fishcakes. These can be lightly baked or fried, then frozen to be cooked later.
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