5 Essential Recipes To Batch Cook And Freeze

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Cooking each day can often be mission impossible and ordering takeout isn't feasible if you're doing it on the daily. Batch cooking meals and freezing them can massively help out when you don't want to spend time in the kitchen, and we've got just recipes for you to use.

Meal prepping like a pro should be your go-to when you can't be bothered to constantly cook and clean up after. This way, you can also eat your favourite dishes a lot more frequently.

However, if you're struggling for ideas and aren't sure what type of food to make in bulk, we've curated a list of the top five recipes that are always a crowd pleaser. Just remember, you'll need to separate your portions when you're ready to freeze the food you've cooked to avoid defrosting more than you need at a given time.

5 Simple Recipes To Use Up All The Flour You Bought

So, you bought your weight's worth in flour? It seemed everyone did as flour flew off supermarket shelves during the coronavirus panic buying that occupied much of March's headlines. Now you've got enough to feed a small village, here's what you can do with it.

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Lasagna for days

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Lasagna is the epitome of comfort food, and super easy to reheat if you're feeling lazy. This recipe from Taste of Home gives you tips on making a classic lasagna dish but you can always play around with the fillings and even make a vegetarian version using a combination of butternut squash, zucchini pumpkin, eggplant and mushrooms.

The recipe takes just 35 minutes of prep time and 55 minutes of baking time. It'll give you two lasagnas equivalent to 12 servings each.

You'll need:

  • 18 lasagna noodles
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 3 jars (26 ounces each) spaghetti sauce
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 ricotta cheese
  • 6 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta cheese, 4-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
  2. Drain noodles. Spread 1 cup meat sauce in each of two greased 13x9-in. baking dishes. Layer each with three noodles, 1 cup ricotta mixture and 1-1/2 cups meat sauce. Repeat layers twice. Top with Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.
  3. Cover and freeze one lasagna for up to 3 months. Cover and bake remaining lasagna at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
  4. To use frozen lasagna: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 375° for 60-70 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

A hearty red lentil, chickpea and chilli soup

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For a healthy, low-fat option, the red lentil, chickpea and chilli soup recipe from BBC Good Food is a winner. It's especially great for chilly evenings and all you'll need on the side is some store-bought bread. The recipe below requires only 10 minutes of prep time and 25 minutes of cook time. It serves four so you can easily double up and make a bigger batch of soup.

For defrosting: thaw the soup by placing it in the fridge two days before you want to eat it or, for a quick hack, let the container immerse in warm water to loosen up the sides. Transfer it to a pan and let it thaw over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

You'll need:

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • large pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 140g red split lentils
  • 850ml vegetable stock or water
  • 400g can tomatoes, whole or chopped
  • 200g (1/2 can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped (save a few leaves to serve)
  • 4 tbsp 0% Greek yogurt, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat a large saucepan and dry-fry 2 tsp cumin seeds and a large pinch of chilli flakes for 1 min, or until they start to jump around the pan and release their aromas.
  2. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 chopped red onion, and cook for 5 mins.
  3. Stir in 140g red split lentils, 850ml vegetable stock or water and a 400g can tomatoes, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 mins until the lentils have softened.
  4. Whizz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until it is a rough purée, pour back into the pan and add a 200g can drained and rinsed chickpeas.
  5. Heat gently, season well and stir in a small bunch of chopped coriander, reserving a few leaves to serve. Finish with 4 tbsp 0% Greek yogurt and extra coriander leaves.

You can't go wrong with a Thai curry

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Have a go at cooking this fragrant Thai chicken and eggplant yellow curry by Delicious because who doesn't love a good curry.

The recipe takes 20 minutes to prep and 35 mins to cook. It yields four servings but you can once again make more if you want the dish to last you a couple of weeks. You can replace the chicken with fish or beef or even turn it into a full-on vegetarian affair by playing around with green beans, bell peppers or even sweet potato. To defrost the curry, leave it out at room temperature and heat it up in a saucepan once it's fully thawed. Make sure it's piping hot before serving.

You'll need:

Thai yellow curry pasta

  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only), chopped
  • 4 Asian (red) eschalots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 6 long red chillies (seeds removed from half), chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 coriander roots, scraped to remove dirt, washed
  • Finely grated zest of two limes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Thai chicken and eggplant yellow curry

  • 2 tbsp olive oil>
  • 8 (650g) chicken thigh fillets
  • 1/2 cup (150g) yellow curry paste
  • 1 tbsp coarsely grated palm sugar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • Thai basil leaves, coriander leaves, thinly sliced red chilli, shredded kaffir lime leaves, steamed jasmine rice and fried Asian shallots, to serve
  • 800ml coconut milk
  • 150g Thai eggplants (from Asian grocers) or 3 halved Japanese eggplants
  • Thai basil leaves, coriander leaves, thinly sliced red chilli, shredded kaffir lime leaves, steamed jasmine rice and fried Asian shallots, to serve

Method:

  1. For the paste, place all ingredients in a food processor and whiz to a coarse paste. (Alternatively, pound using a mortar and pestle). Paste will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 3 months.
  2. To make the curry, heat 1 tbs oil in a deep frypan with a lid or a wok over medium-high heat.
  3. Working in batches, add half the chicken and cook, turning halfway, for 4 minutes or until golden. Remove and set aside, leaving oil in pan. Add remaining chicken and repeat.
  4. Wipe out pan with paper towel and add remaining 1 tbs oil. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until slightly darkened and very fragrant.
  5. Return the chicken and any resting juices to the pan with the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer, then add coconut milk. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
  6. Add eggplants, then cover and cook for a further 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and eggplants are just tender. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  7. Place curry in a serving dish and top with basil and coriander, then scatter over chilli and kaffir lime leaves. Serve with rice topped with shallots, plus lime wedges to squeeze over.

Nothing can beat the flavours of a chilli con carne

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For an affordable and flavour-packed meal, the chilli con carne is an absolute favourite. Although this recipe by GoodtoKnow takes an hour and 40 minutes to make, there's only 10 minutes of prep time involved and your future self pulling out the container from the freezer will thank you plenty.

The recipe serves four people and we definitely recommend making more of this hearty dish if you've got a big enough pot because it can last in your freezer for up to four months. You can eat it with baked potato, mashed potato, tortilla chips or rice. To defrost, take it out of the freezer the night before or early in the morning and let it thaw in the fridge.

You'll need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1kg (2 1/4lb) lean minced beef
  • 2 glasses red wine
  • 1 400g can red kidney beans
  • 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 red chillies, thinly sliced, or 3-4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • Plain yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche

Method:

  1. Fry the onion and garlic in a large, heavy saucepan until softened. Turn up the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until browned and breaking down any chunks with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and boil for 2-3 mins.
  2. Add the tomatoes, green pepper, tomato purée, ground coriander, chilli, cumin, cinnamon, and Worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick.
  4. Add the kidney beans and fresh coriander. Cook for a further 10 mins, uncovered, before removing from the heat.
  5. Top each portion of chilli con carne with a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream or creme fraiche and serve with rice, baked potatoes or crusty bread and a green salad.

Top tip: Add chopped jalapeño peppers when you're frying the onions and minced beef for that extra kick.

No food list is complete without burgers

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If you've got the weekly burger craving and don't want to bother going to the local burger joint, freeze uncooked patties when you make burgers next. The BA Patty Melt recipe from Bon Appétit will make your mouth water each time you think about it. We've listed the entire recipe below for when you're ready to devour your burgers. The most effective way to defrost patties is in the fridge — it results in juicier and better tasting burgers.

You'll need:

For the caramelised onions

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions thinly sliced

For the patties and assembly:

  • 1/4 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck (20% fat)
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 slices seeded rye bread
  • 4 ounces aged sharp cheddar, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Swiss cheese (such as Emmental), thinly sliced
  • 8 teaspoons mayonnaise

Method:

  1. For the caramelised onions: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook onions, stirring often and adding water as needed to prevent burning, until deep golden brown and very soft, 20–25 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Patties and assembly: Gently mix onion, beef, ketchup, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, in a medium bowl. Divide into 4 portions and press each between 2 pieces of parchment or waxed paper until about ¼” thick (you want them roughly the same dimensions as the bread you're using.)
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook patties, pressing gently, until browned but still pink in the centre, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Wipe out skillet and reduce heat to medium. Top 4 slices of bread with cheddar, then beef patties, caramelised onions, and Swiss cheese. Close up sandwiches and spread each top with 1 tsp. mayonnaise. Place in pan, mayonnaise side down, and weight with a foil-covered heavy pan. Cook until bottom slice is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove weighted pan and spread the top of each sandwich with 1 tsp. mayonnaise. Flip and weight again. Cook until other side is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Happy cooking.

Why You Should Try 'Challenging' Recipes Right Now

Similar to rollerblading, cooking is not something everyone has a knack for. Also like rollerblading, cooking is something that one can learn, and a big part of learning is practice. They say fortune favours the bold, and taking on intimidating challenges will make you a better cook. (This is where I find cooking and rollerblading to diverge, as I once bruised my tailbone severely with bold rollerblading.)

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