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Cook once, meals for a week

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 five base mix recipes, store them in the fridge/freezer, and then it just takes some hands-on time to assemble your weeknight dinners.

Before you start, make sure you have:

  • All ingredients from shopping list (see below)
  • Cookware: two medium-sized saucepans and a large casserole dish
  • Containers and freezer bags
  • Labels and marker pen

Step 1

Begin with the Rich chicken casserole mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Brown chicken and onions. Add the remaining ingredients and leave to simmer for 25 minutes.

While casserole mix is cooking:

  • Make up the Scone mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below).
  • Check on casserole and stir once scone dough is made.
  • Divide scone dough in half: store one half labelled ‘Chicken cobbler’ in fridge. Store remaining dough labelled ‘Pizza base’ in freezer.
  • Remove chicken from heat after 25 minutes and divide between two containers to cool completely. Refrigerate one half labelled ’Chicken cobbler’. Freeze the other half labelled ‘Chicken curry.’

Step 2

  • Prepare and cook the Tomato sauce mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below).

While tomato sauce is cooking:

  • Prepare the Tasty mince mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and put on to cook for 20 minutes.

While the mince is cooking:

  • Remove tomato sauce from heat after it has cooked for 20 minutes and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

While the tomato sauce is cooling:

Step 3

  • Prepare the Quiche-in-a-bag mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Label and freeze.
  • Check on the mince mix, and stir halfway through.
  • Purée tomato sauce and divide into four equal portions. Label three portions as ‘Tomato sauce’ and label one ‘Pizza’. Cool completely before freezing all portions.
  • Remove mince from heat and transfer into a large bowl to cool. Place one-half of mince mix in a bag labelled ‘Noodles’. Place half of the remaining mince mix in a bag labelled ‘Pizza’. Label the remaining quarter ‘Tasty mince mix’. Cool portions then freeze.

After this cooking session, you will have the following items:

For the fridge:

  • Rich chicken casserole mix (1)
  • Scone mix for cobbler (1)

For the freezer:

  • Rich chicken casserole mix (1)
  • Scone mix (1)
  • Tomato sauce mix (4)
  • Tasty mince mix (3) (Noodles [1/2], Pizza [1/4] and an extra [1/4])
  • Quiche-in-a-bag mix (1)

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

  • 5 onions
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 cups button mushrooms
  • 3 red capsicums
  • 1 pack spinach
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 leek
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 5 spring onions
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 packet mixed salad leaves
  • 1 head garlic

Frozen vegetables

  • 2 cups peas
  • 275g frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 2 x 500g frozen mixed vegetables

Meat and poultry

  • 800g skinless lean chicken breasts
  • 900g lean mince beef

Dairy

  • 2 cups grated reduced- fat cheddar cheese
  • 115g reduced-fat spread
  • 780ml trim milk
  • 4 eggs

Jars/canned products, seasonings, dry products

  • 425 can tuna in spring water
  • 2 x 670g jars passata
  • tomato paste (6 tablespoons)
  • lemongrass paste (1 tablespoon)
  • dried apricots (1/3 cup)
  • sun-dried tomato pesto (3 tablespoons)
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes with garlic and herbs
  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 1 pack long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 200g rice vermicelli
  • balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 400g self-raising flour
  • 225g wholemeal flour

Pantry staples

Check your pantry to see what you already have in store.

  • olive oil
  • salt for seasoning
  • sugar
  • curry powder (1 tablespoon)
  • dried mixed herbs
  • Tuscan seasoning
  • cayenne pepper
  • Mexican seasoning or Cajun seasoning or chilli powder
  • chicken stock powder
  • balsamic vinegar
  • oil spray

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

Rich chicken casserole mix

Serves 8 (makes 3 portions)
Cost per mix $29.00
Time to make 40 mins

  • 800g lean chicken breast, cut in chunks
  • oil spray
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs or dried thyme or dried oregano
  • 670g jar passata
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 2 teaspoons chicken stock powder

Step 1 Cook chicken in a large non-stick pan with oil until evenly browned. Add onions and garlic paste. Cook for 4-5 minutes until softened.

Step 2 Add remaining ingredients with 3 cups water and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 25 minutes.

Step 3 Cool completely. Place half (1 portion) in fridge in a sealed container ready for Monday’s ‘Chicken cobbler’ meal. Place remaining half in a freezer-proof container/bag. Label this portion ‘Chicken curry’ and freeze for later in the week (Thursday).

Make it gluten free: Use gluten-free pesto and stock

Tasty mince mix

Serves 12 (makes 3 portions: 1 x 1/2 portion, 2 x 1/4 portions)
Cost per mix $23.00
Time to make 25 mins

  • 900g lean beef mince
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 red capsicums, diced
  • 4 teaspoons Mexican seasoning or chilli powder or Cajun seasoning
  • 2 cup peas
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes with garlic and herbs
  • 3 cups cooked rice

Step 1 Place all ingredients in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until thick.

Step 2 Place half the mix in 1 bag for ‘Noodles’ (Tuesday), and divide the remaining half between 2 bags. Label 1 bag ‘Pizza’ (Friday) and the other ‘Tasty mince mix’ for future use. Freeze bags.

Tip: The spare mince mix: in the freezer is great to have as a standby for serving up over tacos with a little grated cheese for unexpected visitors.

Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free seasoning

Scone mix

Serves 8 (makes 2 portions)
Cost per mix $3.17
Time to make 20 mins

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 225g wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2–1 teaspoon cayenne pepper a
  • 115g reduced-fat spread suitable for baking*
  • 275ml trim milk
  • a little flour, to dust

Step 1 Mix flours in a bowl with salt and cayenne. Rub in spread to make fine breadcrumbs, lifting fingers a little to aerate the mix.

Step 2 Make a well in the middle of flour then pour in most of the milk, reserving a little (in case it is not needed). Use a knife to gently work mixture together until it forms soft, sticky dough.

Step 3 Transfer soft dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for3-4 minutes. Divide into 2 equal balls. Place half (1 portion) in a freezer bag labelled ‘Pizza base’ and freeze. Place the other half (portion) in a freezer bag labelled ‘Chicken cobbler’ (Monday) and chill in the fridge.

*See How to choose spreads for information on spreads suitable for baking.

Tomato sauce mix

Makes 4 portions
Cost per mix $6.90
Time to make 25 mins

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 670g jar passata

Step 1 Place onion and celery in pan with oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add remaining ingredients with 2 cups hot water and bring to boil.

Step 2 Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 3 Cool slightly then process until smooth. Divide among 4 freezer containers, cool and freeze. Label 1 portion ‘Pizza’ (Friday) and label the other 3 portions as ‘Tomato sauce’ for future use.

Tip: This sauce is great over pasta, with rice and couscous and is a good standby for vegetarians.

Quiche-in-a-bag mix

Serves 6 (makes 1 portion)
Cost per mix $13.00
Time to make 40 mins

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups trim milk
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 425g tuna in spring water
  • 275g frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tuscan seasoning

Step 1 Mix eggs, milk and flour together with a whisk.

Step 2 Add tuna, veges, cheese, onion and seasoning. Pour into freezer bag labelled ‘Quiche in a bag’ and freeze. 

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

Monday: Chicken cobbler

Tuesday: Mince stir-fry noodles

Wednesday: Crustless tuna quiche

Thursday: Chicken curry

Friday: Tasty mince pizza flat bread




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