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Cook once, meals for a week vegetarian special!

Cook once, meals for a week vegetarian special!

Set aside some time on a Sunday and do precooking for a week of easy vegetarian 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.

Part 1: What to do on Sunday

Before you start, make sure you have…

For cooking/prepping

  • All the ingredients from the shopping list (see below)
  • Large roasting pan for roasting vegetables
  • 900g loaf tin for the Cheesy Pine nut barley loaf
  • Large non-stick pan for the Ratatouille chickpea mix
  • Medium pan for the Mushroom mix
  • Blender/processor or hand blender for the Broccoli pesto mix
  • Sharp knives for cutting vegetables and meat
  • 8 wooden or metal skewers for the kebabs

For storage and labelling

  • Containers and freezer bags
  • Labels and marker pens

Food safety tips

  • Wash and dry hands before handling food. 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.

Preparing base mixes

  • Preheat oven to 200°C. Put the vegetables in a large roasting pan for the Ratatouille and chickpea mix (See Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Cook for 30 minutes, until lightly charred.
  • Begin the Basic barley mix (See Part 2: Base mix recipes below) by putting barley on to cook.
  • Prepare Mushroom mix (See Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • Respray Ratatouille mix halfway through cooking, tossing at the same time.
  • Drain barley. Add Basic barley mix ingredients and divide into 2 portions — half for the Cheesy pine nut barley loaf (Monday) and half for the Barley salad (Wednesday). Leave to cool slightly.
  • Make Broccoli pesto mix (See Part 2: Base mix recipes below).
  • Check on the Ratatouille mix and then continue cooking for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use the Basic barley mix to prepare the Cheesy pine nut loaf and Barley salad.
  • Prepare Marinated tofu mix (See Part 2: Base mix recipes below).

Dividing base mixes

Now you have all the basic mixes prepared, you can divide them into portions and put them in sealed containers. Cool food completely before chilling or freezing.

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

BASE MIX LABELS STORAGE
Basic barley mix (2 portions) Mon: Cheesy pine nut barley loaf* Fridge
Wed: Barley salad Fridge
Ratatouille and chickpea mix (2 portions) Tue: Freeform ratatouille tart Fridge
Thu: Mushroom and tofu curry Fridge
Marinated tofu mix (2 portions) Wed: Tofu kebabs Fridge
Thu: Mushroom and tofu curry Fridge
Mushroom mix (2 portions) Thu: Mushroom and tofu curry Freezer
Fri: Pesto and mushroom spaghetti Freezer
Broccoli pesto mix (1 portion) Fri: Pesto and mushroom spaghetti Freezer

*Wrap Cheesy pine nut loaf in loaf tin with plastic wrap or foil before putting in the fridge.

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.
  • Remove as much air as possible from items being packed in freezer bags.
  • 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.

Shopping list

Fresh vegetables and fruit

  • 1 small cucumber
  • 3 bulbs garlic
  • 4 red onions
  • 8 spring onions
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 red capsicums
  • 2 courgettes
  • 7 shallots
  • 3 cups button mushrooms
  • 3 cups brown-capped mushrooms
  • 300g broccoli florets
  • 3 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 500g baby beetroot
  • 00g baby carrots
  • 900g baby new potatoes
  • 2 small kumara
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 2 x130g packs baby spinach
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 8 tablespoons fresh basil (allowing for garnish)
  • 12 tablespoons (1 cup) fresh coriander (allowing for garnish)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary

Chilled items

  • 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 750g firm tofu
  • 6 sheets filo pastry — this could be frozen
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

Frozen vegetables

  • 150g free-flow spinach

Bottles/canned products and dry goods

  • 1 1/3 cups pearl barley
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or almonds
  • 10 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup peppadew peppers, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 4 tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon garlic purée
  • 4 tablespoons ginger purée
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 6 tablespoons orange juice

Seasonings and pantry staples

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

  • salt and pepper
  • oil spray
  • sugar
  • chilli flakes
  • mixed herbs
  • olive oil or sunflower oil
  • sesame oil
  • white wine vinegar

Part 2: Base mix recipes

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

Basic barley mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost per mix $3.80
Time to make 20 mins

  • 1 1/3 cups pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Step 1 For the Basic barley mix, cook barley in boiling water with vegetable stock and 3 cups water until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain and place in bowl. Cool slightly.

Step 2 Meanwhile cook onion and garlic in oil until softened. Add to barley. Add tomatoes and basil.

Step 3 Divide mixture in half. Mix half the barley mix with loaf ingredients (see below) and spoon into a lightly greased loaf tin. Mix half the barley mix with the salad ingredients (see below).

Dairy free

For the Cheesy pine nut barley loaf (Monday)

Serves 6
Total cost per loaf $13.15

  • 1 portion Basic barley mix (see above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated reduced-fat grated cheddar
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 150g frozen free-flow spinach, thawed
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Barley salad (Wednesday)

Serves 4
Cost per salad $13.65

  • 1 portion Basic barley mix (see above)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or almonds
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup peppadew peppers, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • sprinkling of chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or coriander

Marinated tofu mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost per mix $15.00
Time to make 10 mins

  • 750g firm tofu, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons ginger purée or paste
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons oil

Step 1 Cut tofu into chunks and place in a non-metallic dish. Place all remaining ingredients in a blender and process until chopped finely. Add to tofu and toss to coat evenly.

Step 2 Divide into two portions, label oine for the curry and one for the salad. Cover and chill.

Make it gluten free: Check tofu is gluten free

Ratatouille and chickpea mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost per mix $18.00
Hands-on time 20 mins, cooking time 30 mins

  • 2 red capsicums, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • 2 courgettes, halved, cut in chunks
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • spray oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper

Step 1 Heat oven to 200°C. Place capsicum, eggplant, courgettes, red onion and garlic in a large ovenproof dish. Spray with oil and sprinkle over thyme leaves. Cook for 30 minutes or until softened and tinged golden, respraying halfway through cooking.

Step 2 Heat oil in a large non-stick pan and add vegetables, except the garlic, and heat for a few minutes. Add one cup water and remaining ingredients, squeezing the soft garlic from the skins. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Season with pepper.

Step 3 Divide into 2 portions, labelling one for the tart and one for the curry.

Make it gluten free: Check pesto and stock are gluten free.

Mushroom mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost per mix $9.50
Time to make 20 mins

  • 3 shallots, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups brown-capped mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic purée
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock

Step 1 Cook shallots in oil until softened. Add mushrooms with garlic. Cook until softened.

Step 2 Stir in paste, herbs, wine and stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 3 Divide into 2 portions, labelling one for the curry and one for the spaghetti.

Dairy free
Make it gluten free: Check tomato paste and stock are gluten free.

Broccoli pesto mix

Makes 1 portion
Total cost per mix $8.20
Time to make 15 mins

  • 300g broccoli florets
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, browned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch salt

Step 1 Blanch broccoli by plunging into boiling water and leaving it for 3 minutes. Drain.

Step 2 Place broccoli with all the remaining ingredients in a blender and process until it forms a crumb-like mixture. Place in a sealed container.

Dairy free
Gluten free

Part 3: Your week of dinners

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

Cheesy pine nut barley loaf with warm baby vegetable salad
Freeform ratatouille tart
Tofu kebabs with barley salad
Mushroom and tofu curry
Pesto and mushroom spaghetti




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