I’m a big advocate of bulk cooking. Apart from meal planners, the number one time- and money-saving tip I give my clients (which should also keep them on the straight and narrow when it comes to healthy eating) is to start getting into the habit of always making extra every time they cook.
Make double quantities of your family’s favourite recipes and you will be on your way to having a freezer full of healthy, homemade ‘convenience’ food in no time. My kids love black bean brownies and salmon & millet rissoles, for example, so I always double the batch and freeze some for later.
Here are my top tips for preparing fuss-free, freezer-friendly family favourites:
1) Double or Triple Quantities
Many recipes (including the recipes in the Wholesome Child Nutrition Guide and Cookbook) are suitable for freezing, so double – or even triple – the ingredient quantities and freeze the extra portions.
2) Double Batch Two Recipes Each Week
Choose two recipes on a weekly basis to double batch, for example tuna lasagne (recipe in the Wholesome Child book) and spaghetti bolognaise. If you do this every week for a couple of weeks, the freezer will begin to fill with wholesome emergency back-up plans for when cooking is not an option.
3) Use Similar Ingredients
Try to use similar ingredients in each cook-up session, for instance asparagus tart, veggie muffins and spinach and cheese slice for one; salmon rissoles, fish nuggets and fish curry for another and then black bean brownies, choc chia bliss balls, almond ganache cake and healthy chocolate spread.
4) Buy Veggies In Bulk
Buy bulk vegetables when they are in season and freeze to use later in soups and casseroles.
5) Always Make Extra
6) Cook Your Grains Ahead
You can also prepare ahead with batches of cooked grains such as quinoa, brown rice and even millet. Freeze and heat as needed.
7) Prepare Extra Snacks Too
Don’t limit yourself to main meals when it comes to thinking ahead – if you are chopping carrots or celery into veggie sticks for the lunch box or a snack, chop extra. They will last 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
8) Meal In A Meatball
Meatballs are a fantastic way to get children to eat vegetables they might normally refuse and these beef and veggie meatballs contain carrot, zucchini, onion and an apple for added sweetness. This recipe makes 35 meatballs – double the quantities and you will have 70 meatballs to freeze for future meals!
9) Make Your Own Pizza Base
For a healthy, gluten-free and cheap alternative to preservative-packed store bought pizzas bases, try doubling or even tripling the ingredients for this delicious cheesy cauliflower pizza base and then freeze once baked so you have an easy dinner ready to go whenever you need it.
10) Trail Mix Is Always A Winner
A really great one to make in bulk that doesn’t involve any cooking and keeps for ages is homemade trail mix. I recommend using a selection of unsalted nuts and seeds (like flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds) including a handful of raisins or goji berries, puffed quinoa, shredded coconut and even some lightly salted popcorn. My kids love helping me in the kitchen to create their own combinations, but here are four different recipes to inspire you. Store in an airtight container or mason jar for up to three weeks or in the fridge for up to two months.
Wholesome Child is available in bookstores nationally along with online at www.wholesomechild.com.au and on iTunes.