Friday, 29 March 2019

Bulk cooking to save time and money #MeatMatters

Like a lot of people I work long hours and on those days I have no inclination to come home and start cooking. I know if I did not prepare meals before hand then I would end up picking at junk all evening when I am tired and hungry, or going home via the takeaway, which we all know is not overly healthy for your body or your bank balance on a regular basis, so this works well for me.

I spend a chunk of one day a week in the kitchen bulk cooking food and this makes the rest of the week much easier for me and also saves money as the oven is on one day rather than every evening. If you have a large oven you are as well with six things cooking on one day rather than one thing cooking on six days. It also makes the mess in the kitchen once instead of daily as well, a win win all round in my book.

We tend to eat chicken at least three days a week but on some of the other days I like the nutritional value of red meat.

  • Beef and lamb are naturally rich in protein.
  • Lamb provides four essential vitamins that helps reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • Beef is a source of iron which also helps reduce tiredness and fatigue
  • They both contain essential vitamins that support good health and well being. 
So what sort of things do I cook? One of our all time favourites is oven cooked veg. This is delicious on the day you make it, heats well in a microwave on another day, and can even be frozen for use later in the week and just takes a few seconds to heat in the microwave if you take it out in the morning to defrost. Not to mention they can be used to make soup, I prefer the flavour this gives to a nice pot of warming soup. 

In the past week we have had

1. Lamb steaks with oven coked veg

 Take a pile of seasonal vegetables and prepare them. This choice is up to you to adapt, I like to get a variety of colours and types.

I par boil the potatoes and carrots as they take longer to cook. Place on a baking tray sprinkle with some olive oil and season to taste, or if you are only doing enough for one night I quite like the oven roasting bags as there is no need for the oil. I seasoned mine with some of a pack or ratatouille mix.

Pop them into an oven on 160 oC

Par boil the potatoes and carrots and  season and put these in the oven alongside.

Both of these will take approx thirty mins to cook. So after 15 minutes remove the tray with the potatoes in and place the lamb steaks on top, if you like them rarer adjust this time accordingly. We like ours well done. No need to season them as you want to appreciate the full flavour.

Once the steaks are cooked serve.

2. Chicken with reheated oven cooked veg

We had had cooked chicken pieces with Kung Po sauce two night before so on day two as we were not back in till gone five all I had to do was reheat some of the left over veg and the last of the sauce and serve with cold chicken. Hubby had his without the sauce, as I would have done if it did not need using up.

3. Stewing steak with rice.

While the other food was in the oven cooking I fried off some stewing steak with some onions, beef cubes and some seasoning.

Add veg of your choice, I just used carrots, stirred through a tin of tomatoes and put it into a casserole dish and placed in the oven along side the trays. Served half with some rice cooked in a stock cube. The other half was frozen for use at a later date.

4. Home made dairy free lasagne

Having washed out the pan I fried the stew off in I now fried off 500g mince, We always buy the 5% added fat one, I know it is more expensive that the 20% fat one but I would rather have a smaller portion of something better quality. Have to say I am a mince lover and would happily eat it seven days a week.

 I added onions when frying off the mince and seasoned, we like simple mixed herbs in our mince, no need for salt and pepper.

At this point I added some frozen mixed veg and split the mixture into two pans.

I added some water and gravy thickener to this half of the mince.

Next I made a lactose free cheese sauce with soya milk and lactose free cheese, some of the dairy free cheeses work equally as well. Just follow a conventional recipe for this. This works just as  well with a gluten free flour for those with the need.

Layer up your lasagne sheets, mince mixture and you cheese sauce. As I am intending this to go cold and then be sliced I started with a layer of lasagne sheets. normally if I am eating at the time I start with mince but this was it makes it easier to store without losing your bottom layer of mince.

The oven is still on and still hot at this point so having removed the oven cooked veg and the lamb steaks this was put onto a baking tray and cooked. The baking tray saves it bubbling over the oven and creating work.

You will note I have lined the loaf tin with tin foil. If you are using the same night as you cook it this is not necessary as it will come out of the tin very easily when warm. I leave mine in the tin to cool, slide it out once cold and slice into portions for freezing. Defrosts and reheats much quicker this way.

If you bulk make the cheese sauce so you have some left over you can make a cauliflower cheese or macaroni cheese. I am not a lover of cauliflower so I cooked some broccoli in the microwave while all this was happening, stirred it through the cheese sauce while both were still warm and refrigerated once cold until I wanted it. It will keep for two or three days covered.

I served ours with some oven chips cooked at the time on the halogen oven. Yes I cheated and used frozen ones, some times you just have to go with convenience. 

5 One pot mince and potatoes.

Using the second half of the mince that has been placed in another pan I just added some washed ( unpeeled) cubed potatoes and cooked for a further fifteen minutes. I love the flavour this gives the potatoes, and it also eeks out a smaller amount of meat to serve more people if need be, or to give you a portion to take to work if you have the facilities to reheat.
This makes a stand alone meal that is quick to just reheat in small batches in the microwave. People can reheat their own portion when they are hungry which is great if you have older children that are not around to eat at family mealtime.

So while this may seem like an awful lot of work in one go, think I was in the kitchen for about an hour and a half, it is a lot less time than it would take to make every dish individually.

This post is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds so tasty and you have made me hungry! Commenting for myself and on behalf of BritMums and thanking you for taking part


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