15 time-saving batch-cooking recipes

30 December 2020

We're all about shortcuts when it comes to family mealtimes. Just scale up the quantities and freeze the extras. Cue delighted gasps when you whip out one of the following deliciously easy Mumsnet user recipes on a weekday evening

1. Lentil lasagne

lentil lasagne

“My DD1 and DH rate this as their favourite meal and they're not even vegetarian”

Average user rating: 4/5 stars

When and how to freeze: It's best to bake before freezing if you're using dried lasagna sheets – then cover with clingfilm before popping in the freezer
How long will it last?: Up to six months
How do I cook it?: Put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal

2. Fishcakes

fishcakes

“The kids loved it. Easy to make, freezes well and most importantly tastes great”

Average user rating: 5/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Wrap them up in clingfilm before cooking
How long will it last?: Up to two months
How do I cook it?: Cook straight from frozen. Pop them in the oven for 30 mins, turning halfway

3. Coconut and tamarind chicken curry

coconut chicken curry

Average user rating: 4/5 stars

“This was a hit. I used two red chillies and it was just right for us. I couldn't find curry leaves so but it was still v. tasty. You could use the sauce as a base for other ingredients: sweet potato, cauli and chickpea would be good, or chunks of firm cod.”

When and how to freeze: Put in freezer-safe tupperware after cooking
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a pan

4. Secret tomato sauce

tomato sauce

“The 'secret' is the hidden vegetables! And if it gets children to eat veg, particularly of the green variety, it's a secret worth keeping… Requires a bit of prep but just make a batch lot and freeze in individual portions for a low-salt, low-sugar staple to heat up when in a rush.”

Average user rating: 4/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Put in freezer-safe tupperware after cooking
How long will it last?: Up to six months
How do I cook it?: Pop it in a pan from frozen – it'll be ready in 10 minutes

Buy now: OXO Good Grips Vegetable Chopper, £17.75 (Amazon)
“It makes very fast and easy work of dicing onions, peppers etc. I have a very weak right hand and this is brilliant”

5. Best ever baked meatballs

meatballs

When and how to freeze: Put in freezer-safe tupperware after cooking
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a pan

6. Fish pie

fish pie

When and how to freeze: Before or after baking is fine – just cover with a tight layer of clingfilm before freezing
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Either put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal, or cook straight from the freezer, adding 30-45 minutes to the cooking time

7. Chilli con carne

chilli con carne

“Even people who are non-spicy eaters gave it a thumbs up so I will definitely be making it again. Another point, I made it with top-quality beef mince (on offer) and there was virtually no fat on the surface after freezing, so a healthy recipe too!”

Average user rating: 5/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Put in freezer-safe tupperware after cooking
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a pan

8. Cottage pie

cottage pie

“Goes down very well with DH and DD”

Average user rating: 5/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Before or after baking is fine – just cover with a tight layer of clingfilm before freezing
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Either put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal, or cook straight from the freezer, adding 30-45 minutes to the cooking time

Buy now: OXO Good Grips Smooth Potato Masher, £9 (Amazon)
“By far the best I've ever used. I'd never go back to a long-handled one”

9. Classic lasagne

lasagne

“Really easy to do. First time making lasagne and it was delicious!”

Average user rating: 5/5 stars

When and how to freeze: It's best to bake before freezing if you're using dried lasagna sheets – cover with clingfilm before popping in the freezer
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal

10. Very lazy beef stew

beef stew

When and how to freeze: Cover with a tight layer of clingfilm and freeze after baking
How long will it last?: Up to six months
How do I cook it?: Put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal

11. Easy chicken pie

chicken pie

Average user rating: 5/5 stars

“Lovely recipe. I was looking for a good family meal to use up roast chicken and am normally scared of making sauces, but this recipe was perfect. No lumps in the sauce, super tasty and loads of veggies hidden in the pie too.”

When and how to freeze: After you've put the pastry on, but before baking – cover with a tight layer of clingfilm
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Cook straight from frozen – just add 30-45 minutes on to the cooking time

12. Five veg spaghetti bolognese

spaghetti bolognese

When and how to freeze: Put in freezer-safe tupperware after cooking
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat on the hob

Make magic one-pot spaghetti by Anna Jones

13. Cowboy (meat and bean) pie

cowboy pie

“A hit with children.”

Average user rating: 4/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Before or after baking is fine – just cover with a tight layer of clingfilm before freezing
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Either put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal, or cook straight from the freezer, adding 30-45 minutes to the cooking time

14. Butternut squash and red onion soup

squash soup

“This is very easy, and really delicious. My DC have never liked soup before, but seconds for everyone today with this. I used frozen ready-cut and peeled squash – even easier”

Average user rating: 5/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Wait till the soup has cooled, and then freeze. You can use freezer bags but bear in mind that the soup will expand, so do leave enough space
How long will it last?: Up to three months
How do I cook it?: Either put it in the fridge overnight to defrost, then cook as normal, or cook straight from the freezer – just make sure it is heated through. Once defrosted, you can re-blend if you have time

And for dessert?

15. Apple and blackberry crumble

apple and berry crumble

“Great easy recipe, but you need to double the amount of crumble!”

Average user rating:5/5 stars

When and how to freeze: Before or after baking is fine – just cover with a tight layer of clingfilm before freezing
How long will it last?: Up to six months
How do I cook it?: Cook straight from the freezer, adding 30-45 minutes to the cooking time

Batch cooking time-saving ideas

I like to poach a whole small chicken every now and again which produces lots of lovely tender chicken which you can pull off the bone. I then use it to make a pie mix which you can freeze in tupperware. It also makes a lovely stock which I either freeze as-is to use as the base for a risotto or soup.

I freeze chilli/bolognese in tubs and when they are well-frozen, dip the container in hot water for a few seconds and tip out – then I pile them up in a freezer bag – kept on its side in a freezer drawer (if you do it quickly they won't stick together).

Anything casserole-y will freeze well, I just think 'wet' food freezes better than dry. It's cheaper to buy bags than loads of tupperware, you'll fit more in your freezer and you will get less air around the food, which you don't want as it can change the food's texture.

If you use a slow cooker, it's great to prepare meat and veg, freeze in a bag uncooked, then it's ready just to pop in.

Buy now: Lock/& Lock Food Storage 3 Bowl Nestable Set, £11.82 (Amazon)
“Lock & Lock make nestable containers which store neatly. Also the lids will fit several sizes of box.”

Buy now: Soup n Sauce Press Seal Freezer Bags 1L, £6.49 for 20 (Lakeland)
“For pasta sauces and soups I use Lakeland soup and sauce 1-litre bags, which are reusable.”

Buy now: Cookworks 1.5L Compact Slow Cooker, £12.99 (Argos)
“My Argos one is still going strong eight years later.”

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