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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 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)
  • Large roasting pan for lamb
  • Ovenproof dish for chicken
  • Large pans for boiling vegetables x 2
  • Cutting knife for meat
  • Large casserole dish for bean mix
  • Blender or food processor
  • Pastry cutters for pizza dough

For storage and labelling

  • Containers/freezer bags
  • Labels and marker pen

Step 1

  • Preheat oven to 190°C. Prepare marinade for Roasted lamb (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) then spread over lamb and cook for 2 hours, turning halfway through.
  • Prepare marinade for Basic spiced chicken mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and leave to marinate for 1/2 hour.
  • Chop vegetables for Basic mixed root vege mash (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and place on stove top to cook.
  • Check on lamb and turn after 1 hour.
  • Place chicken in oven to cook for 30 minutes.
  • Prepare Basic bean mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below).
  • Drain vegetables for mash then make up mash.
  • Remove chicken from oven after 25-30 minutes.
  • Prepare Basic dough mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and leave to prove for 30 minutes.
  • Remove lamb from oven and leave to rest for 30 minutes in a cool place.
  • Knead dough and divide in half. Wrap half and place in fridge overnight (for Monday/Pizza), roll out other half and cut 16 x 7cm circles, label ‘Wednesday/Cobbler’ and store in freezer.
  • Cut lamb off bone (removing any fat) and dice.

Step 2: Dividing base mixes

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

BASE MIX LABELS STORAGE
Roasted lamb mix (2 portions) Monday / Pizza Fridge
  Wednesday / Cobbler Fridge
Basic spiced chicken mix (2 portions) Tuesday / Pie Fridge
  Thursday / Pasta Freezer
Basic bean mix (3 portions) Tuesday / Pie Fridge
  Wednesday / Cobbler Freezer
  Thursday / Pasta Freezer
Basic dough mix (2 portions) Monday / Pizza Fridge
  Wednesday / Cobbler Freezer
Basic mixed root vege mash (2 portions) Tuesday / Pie Fridge
  Friday / Fishcakes Freezer

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 fruit and vegetables

  • 11 cloves garlic
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger
  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 orange kumara
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 4 parsnips
  • 1 swede
  • 3 onions
  • 4 cups mushrooms
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 4 cups kale
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 5 spring onions
  • 2 1/2 heads broccoli
  • 4 carrots
  • 3/4 head cauliflower
  • 120g bag baby spinach
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/ cup parsley plus
  • 6 tablespoons
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 250g bag pak choy

Frozen vegetables

  • 1/2 cup corn kernels

Chilled items

  • 100g reduced-fat spread
  • 1 1/2 cups trim milk
  • 1/2 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • parmesan cheese shavings (4 tablespoons)

Meat and poultry

  • 1.8 kg/2kg leg of lamb
  • 900g boneless chicken thighs

Seasoning and pantry staples

  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • oil
  • oil spray
  • 5 tablespoons no-added-salt tomato paste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fennel seeds (1 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid reduced-salt stock
  • 400g can lite baked beans
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 x 400g cans no-added-salt chickpeas
  • 400g can no-added-salt kidney beans
  • 400g butter beans
  • 670g passata
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon Tuscan seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
  • 275g penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 x 185g cans tuna in spring water
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • balsamic vinegar (2 tablespoons)
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic dressing
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • flaked almonds (2 tablespoons)

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

Roasted lamb

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $40.80
Time to make 2 hrs 20 mins (including making marinade)

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 rosemary sprigs, half finely chopped, other half broken in pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 teaspoons oil
  • 1.8-2kg leg of lamb (900g lean lamb)

Step 1 Preheat oven to 190°C. Place garlic, chopped rosemary, chilli flakes, anchovies (if using), lemon zest and juice, fennel seeds and oil in a blender and pulse to a paste. Season if you prefer.

Step 2 Use a sharp knife to make incisions all over lamb. Rub paste evenly all over meat.

Step 3 Place remaining (broken) rosemary in base of roasting tray and top with lamb. Cook for 2 hours, turning halfway through. Remove from oven. Rest for 30 minutes.

Step 4 Once cool enough to handle cut in chunks, discarding any fat. Divide in 2 portions and place in separate storage containers. Label half ‘Monday/Pizza’, the other half ‘Wednesday/Cobbler’ and store in fridge.

Basic dough mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $1.80
Time to make 1 hr (including 1/2 hr resting)

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100g reduced-fat spread
  • 1 1/2 cups trim milk

Step 1 Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Heat spread and milk together until just melted. Make a well in flour and add liquid, gradually mixing in flour from the sides. Mix to a soft dough.

Step 2 Knead for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and stretchy. If dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.

Step 3 Wrap dough in a plastic bag and rest for 1/2 hour. Divide dough in half.

Step 4 Cover half with tinfoil and place in fridge. From the remaining dough, cut out 16 x 7cm circles and store in freezer, separated with plastic wrap, labelled ‘Wednesday/Cobbler’.

Basic spiced chicken mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $21.00
Time to make 1 hr 10 mins (including 1 hr marinating)

  • 900g boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled, grated
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • pinch dried chilli flakes

Step 1 Cut chicken in chunks and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and leave to marinate for 1/2 hour.

Step 2 Once marinated, cook chicken in oven at 190°C for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Cool and halve portions, labelling half ‘Tuesday/Pie’ and storing in fridge, label the other ‘Thursday/Pasta’ and store in freezer.

Basic bean mix

Makes 3 portions
Total cost $12.60
Time to make 30 mins

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-salt tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 x 400g can no-added-salt chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 400g can no-added-salt kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 400g can butter beans
  • 670 g passata
  • 3/4 cup red wine

Step 1 Heat oil in a pan. Cook onions and garlic for 5-6 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.

Step 2 Add paste and lentils. Cook for a few more minutes. Add remaining ingredients.

Step 3 Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with pepper. Divide in 3 portions and store ‘Tuesday/Pie’ and ‘Wednesday/Cobbler’ in fridge, and store ‘Thursday/Pasta’ in freezer.

Basic mixed root vege mash

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $17.50
Time to make 45 mins

  • 3 orange kumara, peeled, chopped in chunks
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, chopped in chunks
  • 4 parsnips, peeled, chopped in chunks
  • 1 swede, peeled, chopped in chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Tuscan seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Step 1 Place vegetable chunks in a large saucepan or 2 pans of water. Bring to the boil and cook for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

Step 2 Mash vegetables well with oil. Add Tuscan seasoning, garlic and parsley. Divide in half and store ‘Tuesday/Pie’ in fridge, and the other, ‘Friday/Fishcakes’ in freezer. 

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

Monday: Lamb pizza

Tuesday: Chicken pie with root vege mash

Wednesday: Winter lamb cobbler

Thursday: Chicken pasta

Friday: Tuna fishcakes




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