Now that you’ve got more time to spend in the kitchen, why not try doubling up your quantities by batch cooking and storing meals for later, ready for busier days in the future. Batch cooking means you only have to cook once and you’ll set yourself up for plenty of easy meals. From having fresh bakes stored in the freezer to barbecue dishes ready for surprise sunshine, these are our top batch cooking recipes.
Soups, stews, casseroles and one-pots are your classic batch cook heroes: easily doubled and leftovers freeze perfectly. Try to freeze in smaller portions rather than one large container so that they defrost quicker and you can just use the amount you need for future dinners. Our green lentil curry recipe is a great freezer staple. It can be enjoyed on its own or take out the freezer to bulk out veggie meals when you don’t have much in the fridge: top with roasted veg, serve with naan breads or blitz with coconut milk for a hearty soup.
Certain bakes like muffins and scones are best on the day they’re made, but don’t let the rest of a batch go stale. There’s no need to halve recipes even if you’ve got less people in the house – make a full batch and freeze so that you can have fresh bakes any day, perfect for easy breakfasts or snacks at a later date. Bake muffins, then let cool completely. Wrap well in clingfilm and foil and freeze (wrap them separately so that you can remove the muffins individually as you need them). When ready to eat, leave to defrost at room temperature then reheat in the oven to freshen until they are warmed through. Try this with any of your favourite recipes that are best on day one – make streusel-topped blueberry muffins, vegan banana and oat muffins or classic scones.
Making larger batches of veg recipes is a great way to prevent spare vegetables going to waste. Use a whole bag of potatoes to make a mega batch of mash, meaning you only have to do the job once and can mash on standby in the freezer ready for easy sides or using in fishcakes or as a topping for pies. Freeze mash in a well-sealed bag or container, then defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat in a pan with a splash of water. Try this with any root mash – make classic buttery mash, we love chipotle sweet potato mash for smoky flavour or do a mixture of celeriac and potatoes.
Having a barbecue? Make extra of your favourites, store the spares in the freezer and you’ll be ready to go next time the sun unexpectedly comes out and you want an impromptu barbecue dinner. No more last-minute trips to the shop! Make a bigger batch of your best burger sauce, marinades for chicken or even just shape extra burgers ready for grilling next time. Our best burger ever recipe has a flavourful burger patty filled with herbs and parmesan. Mix together and shape into burgers, then freeze individually on baking trays until solid. Wrap tightly in foil or place in freezer bags and freeze.
Batch cooking doesn’t have to be all about the freezer. Make a large batch of granola and store in jars or airtight containers and it will keep for a long time, ready for an easy breakfast every day. You can also scatter granola over the tops of muffins for a crunchy top as they bake or add a handful to your next crumble. Use whatever dried fruit, nuts and seeds you have to make your own perfect granola combination – try our maple and honey granola recipe as a starting point, add dried berries or a sprinkling of coffee to mocha granola for a breakfast and caffeine hit in one.
Take advantage of having some extra time to cook and prep elements of meals for the future when time is busier. Caramelised onions need low, slow cooking for perfectly soft and golden results and form the base of plenty of meals so are a great one to take time over now by making a big batch and freezing ready to use later. Cooking a larger batch also means the onions are less likely to burn – follow our caramelised red onions recipe, then use for onion gravy, adding to casseroles or Bolognese sauce, or spreading on puff pastry for a simple tart.
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