Batch Cooking and a Speedy Bolognese

In our menu planning and budgeting money post we discussed that one of the ways in which we make our money stretch is by batch cooking meals. As part of our menu planning, we ensure that at least once a week, we cook, what we call, a batchable meal. This will be a meal that we can cook four or five portions of and freeze whatever we have leftover. On top of this, we will at times just cook meals specifically to be frozen which ensures that we always have a freezer full of meals. This means that we have a reserve of meals if we are getting short at the end of the month and also ensures that Meg has meals to take to work. We also batch cook to help minimise food waste; for example: any meat leftover from a roast will be make into curries and any vegetables we don’t use will be made into casseroles. I anticipate that this month we will be freezing quite a lot of potato based meals considering that we have 7.5 kgs to get through.

This week the meal that we batched was a spaghetti bolegnese. This is such a quick and simple recipe made from scratch and a well balanced healthy meal. Check out how we did it.

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Ingredients:

  • Minced beef 250g
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or 7 in our case)(only joking it was only 5) (she actually is joking although it was nearer 9) (bulbs that is)(someone is going hungry tonight!)(and sleeping on the sofa)(but will be far away from Miss Garlic breath so all good)
  • 1 onion
  • handful of mushrooms
  • 1 pepper
  • large handful of spinach
  • handful of frozen peas
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • half a carton of passata
  • 1 beef stock cube (made up into 300ml of stock)
  • 1 tbs of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of chilli powder
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • a few leaves of fresh basil (2 tbs of dried basil or mixed herbs will do the job too)

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Let’s Cook!

  1. Add a drop of oil to a frying pan (or fry light which we both prefer) and brown off the mince
  2. Whilst the mince is browning, chop the garlic, onions, peppers and mushrooms and add to the pan and cook until soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes, passata and stock, and simmer for 5 minutes
  4. Add the smoked paprika, paprika and the chilli powder.
  5. Add in salt and pepper to you acquired taste
  6. Once the sauce has thickened to the consistency you like (we personally prefer a thicker consistency) add the spinach and the peas.
  7. Finally chop the basil and throw that in as well (or the dried herbs)
  8. Simmer for a further 5 minutes so the peas are cooked through and so that all the flavours can bind together

bbbbbklllloo

Instead of the tinned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes could be diced and added in. This made 5 portions for us. The trick is to bulk out your meals with vegetables as this gives a higher quantity and it is a great way to help you towards that five a day! By bulking out with vegetables, this dish can also be easily adapted for vegetarians although we would perhaps suggest adding another vegetable such as carrot or courgette, or both, for texture and a touch of added taste. Although Meg has little experience with Quorn, as a vegetarian for two and a half years, I always found it to be a suitable replacement and I always found it quite easy to cook with it. In terms of the bolognese, fry off your vegetables first and then add the Quorn when you add the tomatoes and stock. I will not claim to be an expert but I do have a little experience of vegan options and all I will suggest here is using lentils as the meat substitute.

Any suggestions? Comment on this post or find us on instagram @aargansfantasticfeasts

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