Easy make-ahead meals guaranteed to save you time

Make life easy for yourself this winter with these eight time-saving recipe heroes. They can all be prepared in advance and popped in the freezer until you need them.

  1. Spice and easy

    Try layering up the raw ingredients for this zingy jerk chicken curry in a zip-lock bag and pop in the freezer. Once defrosted, all you need to do is empty the whole lot into a large saucepan, stir for a few minutes, then add 200ml boiling water and leave to simmer until the meat is cooked through and the sauce thickened. 

  2. Got it covered

    Put together this delicious seasonal beef, swede and barley pie when you have the time, cover with pastry and wrap in baking paper and foil to freeze. To cook once defrosted, just brush with egg and bake in the oven for a filling dinner everyone will love.

  3. On the pulse

    Wholesome and full of flavour, a good lentil stew also freezes well. Cook this spicy lentil stew in just 45 minutes, allow it to cool, then freeze in a suitable plastic box. Just remove from the freezer an hour before you want to eat, heat in a large saucepan then dish up topped with a spoonful of natural yogurt and some chopped fresh parsley.

  4. Smokin' dinner

    If you want a special dinner without the effort, this luxurious smoked salmon tart couldn’t be simpler to make. It uses ready rolled pastry, filled with a mix of cooked potatoes, creamy dill sauce and flaked hot smoked salmon. Once baked and cooled you can freeze in the tin, wrapped in baking paper and foil. Bake straight from frozen. Easy!

  5. Meal-in-one

    Make this wholesome, spiced butternut, cauliflower and chickpea one-pot with minimal prep – simply chop your veg and put into a freezer bag with the spices and chickpeas and freeze until required. Once defrosted put everything into a casserole dish to heat, add 20ml of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 mins. Uncover and simmer with the lid off for 15 mins. Season well and serve with a dollop of mango chutney stirred through.

  6. Made to share

    This paprika beef stew with mushrooms and peppers is hearty, warming and perfect for a cosy night in. Put the raw ingredients into a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Defrost thoroughly, then put everything into a large pan, add 300ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hr, until the sauce has thickened and the meat is tender. Serve with crusty bread and some sour cream spooned on top.

  7. Golden delicious

    Make a batch of this moreish crispy skinned chicken with creamy mushrooms and freeze in a container. Defrost the day before you want to eat it, then heat in the oven while you make a side of sweet braised leeks.

  8. Green giant

    Packed with seasonal greens, this brilliant make-ahead green vegetable lasagne has a nutritious broccoli, kale and spinach filling. Plus you can bake it straight from frozen, just heat until bubbling and melty and enjoy with a crisp, dressed salad.