Spending a few hours in the kitchen on a weekend can prove endlessly helpful during the working week; especially if you plan a few weeks ahead of time. The key to make-ahead dinners is to choose flavours that get better as they develop. Think soups, stews, casseroles. Think marinating meat in freezer bags. Think freezing leftover mashed potato in individual portions, so that you can whip out a nutritious side at a moment’s notice. Most of all, think convenience.
When planning your make-ahead menu, consider how your family will be eating this week. If dinner time will be staggered, due to some people working late; some people having after-school activities, then whip up a batch of bolognese sauce and freeze. Take out of the freezer on the morning you want to eat it, and serve scooped into burger buns for those on the run, and with a side of gnocchi for those eating at home. Gnocchi is an amazing store cupboard ingredient, because it cooks in two minutes, and is utterly delicous. Both of these meal options should be served with salad and some grated cheese on the side.
Our chicken and broccoli bake is a typical make-ahead meal success. Follow the recipe up until it’s time to put the casserole in the oven. Cool and freeze. If cooking from frozen, add another 45 minutes to the cooking time, and if from thawed, just follow the recipe. Serve with green beans and if you need more carbs, rice or baby roasties.
Stew is always a winner, as meat tenderises even more during the freezing process. Our beef and Guinness stew will warm up chilly bones as the winter starts to show its face.
Our chicken & chorizo stew freezes so well and is a hit with all who try it. If you’re cooking to freeze, leave out the olives until you are reheating it, and serve with leafy greens or green beans and some baby spuds. If that’s too much, empty a bag of salad leaves into a bowl and tear up some French bread.
The heady spice of Morocco elevates our vegetarian tagine to new heights. When served with some couscous speckled with almond shards and lemon zest, this is a vegetarian dish with a bang. It freezes really well, just add a little extra water when you are reheating it.