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Cook once, meals for a week

Set aside three hours on a Sunday and do some pre-cooking for a week of easy dinners.

All it takes is one Sunday afternoon cooking session to have dinner sorted for the week ahead! With our three-part process, simply prepare the base mix recipes, store them in the fridge/freezer, then just assemble and/or finish off cooking on the day for fast weeknight dinners.

Before you start, make sure you have…

For cooking

  • All ingredients from shopping list (see below)
  • Small wooden skewers for kebabs x 16
  • Large roasting pan
  • Sharp knife
  • Blender or food processor

For storage and labelling

  • Containers/freezer bags
  • Labels and marker pen

Food safety tips

  • Wash and dry hands before handling food and after handling raw meat and poultry. Remember 20+20: wash for 20 seconds, dry for 20 seconds.
  • Wash knives, utensils, and chopping boards in hot soapy water and dry between preparation of different foods.
  • Wash vegetables.
  • Place raw meat and chicken in sealed containers at the bottom of the fridge so there’s no danger juices can drip onto other food.

Preparing base mixes

  • Bring a pan of water to the boil for Barley mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and place on stovetop to cook for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare Tomato mince mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and place half in a pan to brown for the Tasty stuffed capsicumsAdd wine and cook for 15 minutes. Mix remaining Tomato mince mix with egg for Cheese and barley beef burgers (Thursday). Chill.
  • Preheat oven to 190°C. Prepare Chargrilled vegetables (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and place in a large ovenproof dish. Cook for 25 minutes.
  • Drain barley. Prepare Barley mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Divide in 3 portions.
  • Prepare Chicken curry mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Cover, chill and store half labelled ‘Chicken curry kebabs’ (Monday). Place other half in a container labelled ‘Chicken curry pasta’ (Wednesday).
  • Add tomatoes to Chargrilled vegetables (as per recipe) for final 5 minutes.
  • Prepare Cheesy crumb mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Divide in 3 portions.
  • Remove chargrilled veges and cool before dividing mix into 3 containers.
  • With 1 portion of Tomato mince together with 1 portion of Barley mix, assemble Tasty stuffed capsicums (Tuesday, see Final prep steps: Assembly below).
  • With 1 portion Tomato mince together with 1 portion of Barley mix, pulsed until roughly blended, assemble Cheese and barley beef burger patties (Thursday, see Final prep steps: Assembly below).

Dividing base mixes

Store prepared base mixes in correct portion sizes (in fridge or freezer as indicated). Label sealed containers or bags accordingly.

BASE MIXLABELSSTORAGE
Chicken curry mix (2 portions)Monday / KebabsFridge
Wednesday / PastaFridge
Tomato mince mix (2 portions)Tuesday / CapsicumsFridge
Thursday / Burgers (patties)Freezer
Barley mix (3 portions)Monday / KebabsFridge
Tuesday / CapsicumsFridge
Thursday / Burgers (patties)Freezer
Cheesy crumb mix (3 portions)Tuesday / CapsicumsFridge
Thursday / BurgersFridge
Friday / FishFridge
Chargrilled vegetables (3 portions)Monday / KebabsFridge
Wednesday / PastaFreezer
Friday / FishFreezer

Top tips for successful freezing

  • Foods to be frozen should be as fresh as possible.
  • Cool foods completely before freezing. Freezing food when hot will increase the temperature of the freezer and could cause other foods to start defrosting.
  • Never refreeze anything that has already been frozen.
  • Make sure you wrap foods properly and put them in a sealed container or bag.
  • Freeze items in the quantities suggested so you have no wastage.
  • Label foods clearly with a marker pen. Date items if you are not going to eat during the planned week.
  • Defrost food thoroughly before cooking. Remove from the freezer the night before cooking the following day and store in the fridge.
  • Remove as much air as possible from items being packed in freezer bags.

Shopping list

Fresh vegetables and fruit

  • 3 bulbs garlic
  • 2 green capsicums
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 450g cherry tomatoes
  • 300g mushrooms
  • 600g new potatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 3 sprigs thyme or rosemary
  • 4 red capsicums
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger
  • 4 lemons
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cucumber
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 mango
  • 2 bunches coriander
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 4 courgettes
  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 10 spring onions
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 100g rocket
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 beetroot
  • 2 baby crispy lettuce
  • 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 4 large shallots such as banana shallots

Meat and poultry

NOTE: Buy meat, chicken and fish with as long a ‘best before’ date as possible.

  • 900g skinless chicken breast or thighs
  • 900g lean beef mince
  • 4 x 120g white fish fillets

Chilled items

  • 120g feta cheese
  • 100g parmesan cheese
  • 4 teaspoons basil pesto

Seasoning and pantry staples

  • 3 tablespoons mild curry paste such as korma paste
  • olive oil
  • oil spray
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mixed herbs
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup oil-free sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts
  • 3 teaspoons Moroccan spice
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup choppedfresh parsley
  • Tuscan seasoning
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 115g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 250g pasta shells
  • 6 x wholegrain rolls
  • 6 tablespoons tomato chutney
  • 1 egg
  • 325g pearl barley
  • 200g crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil

Here are the base mix recipes (see Part 3: Your week of dinners below for the daily recipes).

Chicken curry mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost of mix $20.70
Time to make 25 mins

  • 8 wooden skewers
  • 900g skinless chicken thighs, cut in chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons mild curry paste such as korma paste
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Step 1 Place chicken in a large non-metallic dish. Add remaining ingredients and toss together.

Step 2 Thread half chicken onto dampened wooden skewers for Curry chicken kebabs (Monday). Place in a sealed container and store in fridge.

Step 2 Place remaining half in a container labelled Chicken curry pasta (Wednesday). Leave to marinate in the fridge.

Make it gluten free: Use gluten-free curry paste

Tomato mince mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost of mix $20.85
Time to make 25 mins

  • 900g lean beef mince
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 teaspoons mixed herbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil-free sun-dried tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 egg

Step 1 Place mince in a bowl and add paste, herbs, garlic, chilli powder, sugar and tomatoes. Mix well.

Step 2 Divide mix in 2 portions. Place half in a non-stick pan and heat until browned, stirring occasionally. Add wine and cook for 10-15 minutes. Set aside for Tasty stuffed capsicums (Tuesday).

Step 3 Mix the other half of mince mix with egg. Chill for Cheese and barley beef burgers (Thursday).

Extra step: On Sunday, assemble burger patties (see Final prep steps: Assembly below).

Barley mix

Makes 3 portions
Total cost of mix $9.60
Time to make 40 mins

  • 325g pearl barley
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 100g (1 1/2 cup) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 teaspoons Moroccan spice
  • 1/4 cup oil-free sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped

Step 1 Cook barley following packet directions. Meanwhile, cook onion with garlic and oil until softened.

Step 2 Add mushrooms and cook for 3-4 more minutes with Moroccan spice. Drain barley and place in a bowl.

Step 3 Add onion and mushroom mix with remaining ingredients and mix well.

Step 4 Divide in 3 portions for Curry chicken kebabs (Monday), Tasty stuffed capsicums (Tuesday) and Cheese and barley beef burgers (Thursday).

Extra step: On Sunday, assemble stuffed capsicums (see Final prep steps: Assembly below).

Cheesy crumb mix

Makes 3 portions
Total cost of mix $7.45
Time to make 10 mins

  • 115g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 2 lemons, grated zest
  • 100g freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper

Step 1 Mix all ingredients together. Divide in 3 portions labelled Tasty stuffed capsicums (Tuesday), Cheese and barley beef burgers (Thursday) and Cheesy crumbed fish steak (Friday).

Make it gluten free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs

Chargrilled vegetables

Makes 3 portions
Total cost of mix $30.40
Time to make 30 mins

  • 4 courgettes, halved lengthways
  • 2 bunches broccolini
  • 6 spring onions, trimmed
  • 4 large shallots such as banana shallots, halved then quartered
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 2 green capsicums, deseeded, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, halved
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons Tuscan seasoning
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 sprigs rosemary or thyme
  • oil spray
  • 250g cherry tomatoes

Step 1 Preheat oven to 190°C. Place all vegetables except tomatoes in 1 or 2 large ovenproof dishes. Toss in infused oil. Sprinkle with seasoning, cumin and thyme. Bake for 25 minutes, tossing once during cooking.

Step 2 Spray with a little oil and add tomatoes. Cook for 5 more minutes. Cool, break garlic bulbs in cloves and divide vegetable mix in 3 portions labelled Curry chicken kebabs (Monday), Chicken curry pasta (Wednesday) and Cheesy crumbed fish steak (Friday).

Cheese and barley beef burger patties

Makes 6
Total cost $13.63
Time to make 15 minutes

  • 1 portion Tomato mince mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes above)
  • 1 portion Barley mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes above)

Step 1 Place mince mix in a large bowl. Place Barley mix in a blender and pulse until roughly blended. Add to mince.

Step 2 Shape in burgers using wet hands. Place in a container labelled ‘Burgers’ (Thursday) and store in freezer.

Tasty stuffed capsicums

Serves 4
Total cost $25.63
Time to make 10 minutes

  • 4 red capsicums
  • 1 portion Barley mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes above)
  • 1 portion Tomato mince mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes above)

Step 1 Cut tops off each capsicum and set aside. Remove seeds and rest capsicums on a board.

Step 2 Mix Barley mix with mince mix then spoon mixture into capsicums. Press mix down to fill. Add capsicum top.

Step 3 Transfer to an airtight container labelled ‘Capsciums’ (Tuesday) and place in fridge.

Using the Base mixes (see Part 2 above), here are your dinner recipes for the week.

Monday: Curry chicken kebabs

Tuesday: Tasty stuffed capsicums with spring salad

Wednesday: Chicken curry pasta

Thursday: Cheese and barley beef burgers with crusty rolls

Friday: Cheesy crumbed fish steak with chargrilled veges and potatoes

First published: Nov 2014



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