"I Will Make My Lunch Every Day" - Five Fast Freezer Meals to Try For The Week Ahead 5 years ago

"I Will Make My Lunch Every Day" - Five Fast Freezer Meals to Try For The Week Ahead

Now that the tree has seen better days, the chocolate tins are empty and you'd be happy if you never saw another turkey or another night out, it's time to put those lofty New Year ambitions into action. If one of the things on your list was to improve your diet and save money at the same time, the fastest way to do it is to pack yourself a healthy lunch every day.

If you can set aside a couple of hours at the weekend to stock up the freezer, this is easily done. It just takes some practice, which in time turns to habit. To get you started, we have collected some simple recipes for meals you can divvy up and stock in lunch boxes in your freezer, keeping you away the dreaded deli counter.

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Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients

500g lamb mince

500ml beef stock

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion

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3 medium carrots

2 tablespoons tomato puree

900g potatoes

75g butter

4 tablespoons milk

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Method

Heat oil in a medium saucepan, then gently fry the onion (fined chopped) and carrots (diced) until onion is soft and starting to brown.

Add the lamb, breaking up with a wooden spoon and continue to fry. When lamb begins to brown, add the tomato puree and the stock. Bring to a high heat, then reduce and simmer for 40 minutes.

To make the mash, boil the peeled potatoes until tender, drain and add butter and milk to taste.

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Place the mince mix in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then top with a layer of the mashed potatoes. Bake for 25 minutes approx at 180c/Gas Mark 4, until the potato has started to colour and the mince mix is bubbling.

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Chili Con Carne

Ingredients

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500 g minced beef

2 medium onions

2 cloves garlic

1 red/1 green/ 1 yellow pepper

2 fresh chili peppers (optional!)

1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder

1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin

1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon

400 g tinned chickpeas

400 g tinned red kidney beans

2 x 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes

Method

This might look like a lot of ingredients but really it's a one-pot meal that you can whip up in twenty minutes and then leave on a low heat.

First, finely chop the onions and crush the garlic. Gently fry in a little olive oil at the bottom of a casserole dish before adding the mince and spices.

Fry on a low heat until the mince starts to gently brown. Next, add the peppers (diced) and if you're using them, the fresh chilies, finely chopped. Continue to fry until the vegetable start to soften.

Drain the chickpeas and kidney beans and add to the mix, along with the two tins of chopped tomatoes and 400ml of water.

Stir well and bring to the boil, before turning down the heat and allow to simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.

There you have it! Freeze in portions and you have yourself a winter warmer that's good to go - rice accompaniment optional and easily made in minutes the night before or in the morning.

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Lasagne

Ingredients

500g minced beef

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

125g mozzarella

9/12 lasagne sheets

50g parmesan

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions

4 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs

100g butter

70g flour

850ml milk

Method

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the finely chopped onions until golden. Add the crushed garlic and herbs and cook for an additional 2/3 minutes. Add the beef and cook until browned. Add in the tomatoes and puree. Season and bring to the boil, then turn heat down and allow to simmer for 30 minutes before turning off the heat.

For the white sauce, add the butter, flour and milk to a pan, season and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Simmer for five minutes until smooth and thickened, then remove from heat and cover.

Take an ovenproof baking dish and place a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom. With white sauce and a little of the mozzarella.

Cover with lasagne sheets, then repeat twice before covering the last layer of sheets in white sauce only, dusting the grated parmesan over the top.

To cook, heat the over to 180c or Gas Mark 4 and cook for 40-45 minutes, until the lasagne is browning on top and crispy at the edges.

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Chicken Kiev

Ingredients

8 chicken fillets

250g dried breadcrumbs

75g parmesan

5 eggs

100g plain flour

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves

Fresh parsley

200g butter

Juice ½ lemon

Method

Crush the garlic and add to softened butter, lemon juice and two tablespoons of finely chopped parsley. Mix well until ingredients are combined, then shape into two long sausage shaped rolls. Wrap well in cling film and freeze until firm (can be done hours or even days in advance), then slice each one into eight even pieces.

Using a sharp knife, make a pocket in each chicken breast. Take care to to slice the whole way through. Place two of the frozen butter discs into each of the eight chicken breasts and reseal.

Grate the parmesan and mix with breadcrumbs in one dish, beat the eggs in another. A third dish should contain your flour.

Dip each of the stuffed chicken breasts first in the flour, then in the egg mix and finally in the breadcrumbs, coating well.

You can freeze at this stage, or chill for an hour before cooking.

To cook, fry on a medium heat for 2 to three minutes each side, then transfer to a baking tray and cook for 20 to 25 minutes at 180C/Gas Mark 4.

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Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

700g diced pork

100g plain flour

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1 clove garlic

2 medium onions

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

2 large red peppers

2 tablespoons tomato puree

4oog can chopped tomatoes

Beef stock

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Coat pork in the flour by tossing until covered.

Cook the pork gently in the oil, until lightly browned. Remove the meat from the pot with slotted spoon.

Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and cook lightly until softened. Return the pork to the pan, along with the crushed garlic and paprika. Cook for two minutes or so.

Next, add the peppers (diced) along with the tomatoes, tomato puree and 500ml of beef stock.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook on a low heat, covered, for up to two hours, or until meat is completely tender.

Serve with rice and garnish with sour cream.

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