2018 is well underway – if you consider a week to be a long time that is – and I’m well into planning our meals for the month ahead. Michael finds it quite amusing that I can come up with a “four week meal plan” after sitting down for an hour with my collection of cookbooks and my laptop. I take inspiration from many places and use it to inspire me to create the recipes I add to this blog, as well as our shopping list for when we go to the supermarket.
My aims for the coming months are to try and eat healthier food whilst sticking to a bit of a budget and one of the easiest ways to do that is through Batch Cooking. I’m sure you know the term, but in case you don’t I’d summarise it as “making a lot, eating a bit, saving the rest for later”. It’s not just a case of keeping the leftovers from a meal but deliberately making too much so you’re guaranteed to have leftovers.
There are two big savings to be made by cooking this way.
- Money – in that you can take advantage of multi-buy offers in the supermarket (or local store) without creating waste. It’s something we struggle with as a child-free couple, as so many offers are aimed at families and we just don’t want, or need, that much of a single ingredient in one go.
- Time – in that you can cook multiple dinners in one go with only one set of preparation and cooking time needed. Simply pop the surplus in the fridge or freezer for later in the week and you free up a lot of time without realising just how much you gain.
I don’t always batch cook meals and accept that there are some things that benefit from being made fresh, but when you have the time on your hands (at weekends, for example) why not use it wisely?
This weekend I took the opportunity to plan ahead and made a giant pot of beef ragù that will split down into three meals over the coming fortnight. There’s nothing particularly special about the base sauce – it’s a fairly standard mix of onions, garlic and minced beef, this time with added peppers and mushrooms that happened to be in the fridge, that was cooked with chopped tomatoes for about 90 minutes until it was rich and full of flavour.
Some of it was served straight away – stirred through pasta and topped with a generous amount of grated cheese (very tasty I might add) – but the rest was split off for very different uses later in the week.
As things stand a portion will be mixed with chipotle chilli paste and served as part of a Burrito Bowl, but I’m torn as to what to do with the rest.
Should it be made into a cottage pie or added to a risotto or used for a pasta bake? I could stuff it into some oven-baked peppers or simply use it to top a baked potato.
Thinking about it, this just goes to show just how flexible batch cooking can be. If you start with a base sauce you don’t limit your options – if anything you could end up giving youself even more choice!