Cook once, eat for a month

2nd February, 2013 - Posted by admin - 4 Comments

We had a happy realisation last week that we did not need to cook. All week. The freezer was full of leftover meals and every night I popped another vague and unidentifiable concoction in a tuppaware container into the fridge to be warmed for dinner the next night. It was like dinner roulette. Luckily we only keep leftovers from meals that taste half decent, so the result was always pretty good.
This got us to thinking – all those pins on Pinterest from America on only cooking one day a month – hours of cooking or prep and then bunging the results into freezer bags, to be baked, or slow cookered on the day of consumption. It was lovely not to have to think about chopping and cutting, braising boiling and baking all week So we decided to give it a go.
Our old slowcooker was a hand-me-down from my parents, and the inside started to deglaze, leaving mould accumulating when not in use, no matter how hard we cleaned. So we bought a shiny new crock pot, did a huge shop for food, and put aside 4 hours one sunday to cook.

The menu
Our meals for the month should look like this:
Cilantro lime black bean chicken* (sc)
Marinaded chicken*
Chicken satay*
Breaded chicken*
Marinaded steaks*
Beef stew* (sc)
Spag bol
Skinny Leek “lasagne”
Marinaded salmon*
Black bean chilli* (sc)
Chickpea and squash curry* (sc) – EDIT: this didn’t work!

I estimate that will be around 25 meals.

It’s a bit more meat-heavy than we are used to, so if there is room in the freezer I may make a lentil dal and chuck it in too.
Everything with a * is food we can pretty much mix up in a bag, add meat or veggies, and put straight in the freezer. Other foods require some cooking and assembling on the cook day (basically meat sauce for spaghetti bol and lasagne, and meatballs – which will be flash frozen and then out into bags one with tomato sauce (also requires making on cook day) and one with another sauce).
Some foods will be baked on the day of eating, and some can just be chucked into the slow cooker – slow cooker meals are denoted by (sc)
I suspect some veggies will need steaming on the day of eating too, as side dishes, and rice or pasta will need to be made. We will have to see how this all works out in practice…

The Recipes

Some recipes are just adaptations of existing recipes which I think should pre-freeze well. All should end up being healthy and low fat/ low calorie. All are or can be gluten free.
I love the Hairy Bikers diet book:

Cilantro lime black bean chicken
Marinaded chicken
Chicken satay (tamari instead of soy sauce for GF)
Marinaded steaks
Beef Stew
Spag bol (will just make extra lasagne meat sauce)
Meatballs (from Hairy Dieters – baked in the oven and frozen with tomato sauce frozen separately)
Leek lasagne
Marinaded salmon (from Hairy Dieters)
Black bean chilli (hoping this will work in the slow cooker)
Chickpea and squash curry (just making this up as I go, will add coconut milk in slow cooker) – EDIT – and it did not work. No not even remotely salvageable. Squash does not freeze well.

The Shopping List
Some ingredients I already have, so here is a basic shopping list, but bear in mind spices etc are ot on here:
Meat and fish:
4 salmon fillets
1.5 kg mince
2 steaks
2 lbs stewing beef
16 chicken breasts (only needed 12 in the end)

4 leeks (lasagne and stew)
chestnut mushrooms (lasagne, spag bol, curry)
Limes (cilantro chicken, marinades)
Fresh coriander (most recipes!)
Carrots (stew)
Tomatoes, tinned (most)
Potatoes (stew)
Spinach (curry)
Ginger (marinade, curry)
Baking potatoes (twice baked pots)
Peppers (curry)
Broccoli (side dish)

Coconut milk (satay, curry)
3 tins black beans (chicken, black beans)
Sweetcorn (cilantro chicken)
Chickpeas (curry)

Edamame / soy beans (side dish for salmon)

Peanut butter (satay)
Maple syrup (chicken, marinades)
Extra mature cheddar Cheese (lasagne)
Red curry paste (satay?)
Red wine
Freezer containers
Ziplock bags

The damage – including buying mainly (but not only) organic and all from (the luxury….) Waitrose…£135
Was expecting it to be A LOT more than that, so that was a nice surprise.

The Cook Day

After cleaning out the freezer (should have defrosted it first, I think) and laying out all the ingredients:

1. Chop all veg
2. Cook onions
3. Make meatballs, bake, and flash freeze
4. Put curry and meat sauce onto cook
5. Make marinades and add to bags with raw meat
6. Divide meatballs into 2 meals and add sauce ingredients (bag within bag?)
7. Freeze marinaded meat, fish and meatballs
8. Par boil and freeze some broccoli florets
9. Freeze portions of curry and spag bol sauce
10. Make up Lasagne and freeze


The result

We are exhausted!
Everyone helped – I could not have done it without my husband joining in. Even X cut up mushrooms, but soon lost interest. But he kept himself brilliantly busy the entire time.

I should have planned better – I walked miles back and forth across the kitchen, forgot what 4 of the chicken breasts were for (so they have been frozen as they are!) (turns out they were for breaded chicken)
We ran out of room in the freezer, despite re-organising it before we started.

But we ended up with…..drum roll…..28 meals. In 3.5hours!


Tags: , , ,

Posted on: February 2, 2013

Filed under: eating



February 3rd, 2013 at 5:33 pm    

Wow – very impressed. Sounds like it took a lot of pre-planning!


February 3rd, 2013 at 6:57 pm    

To be honest, it needed a little more pre-planning! Next time! You learn as you go, I guess.


February 3rd, 2013 at 7:31 pm    

OMG! This is amazing. I am going to schedule a cooking session now! I’ll let you know how I get on…

Andy Saul

February 3rd, 2013 at 7:40 pm    

If you’re out of freezer space, portions of Ribolletta can be stored in the fridge for a week or so.

Just add fresh bread rubbed with garlic & olive oil. Lovely!

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