You can get most of a week’s cooking done in one session with a bit of organisation and a three-hour window of time. Here we show you how easy it is.
Doing a meal plan is the first step, so using an app such as PlanBuyCook is a great approach as it can scale all the recipes and automatically generate your shopping list.
Having all the ingredients at home and ready is the key to faster cooking so you don’t need to keep running to the shops for missing things. It is often too much to shop and cook on the same day, so either get your groceries home delivered, or shop the day before you plan to cook.
When you plan your meals, try to look for at least two or three that are freezable, and double the quantities so you can ‘food bank’ them for a few weeks down the track.
Here we do a meal plan using recipes from the app, including three freezable meals, two quick cook meals, planning for a leftovers night and Sunday night scrambled eggs on toast. The cooking took less than three hours.
Lamb curry in oven or on stovetop – double and freeze half. Cook the rice on the night. On the table in 20 mins.
Lemon and garlic marinade – double and freeze half. Store other half in the fridge. On the night, serve with salad and bread etc
Bean quesadillas – double the recipe, cook the bean mix and freeze half. Keep rest in the fridge and assemble on the night.
Chicken hokkien noodles– prep all the food and eat on the night you cook. It is pretty much a case of reheat and serve.
Tuna pasta – cook it on the night you are serving it. It takes around 20 minutes all up.
Sunday night: Scrambled eggs on toast
Plan for one leftovers meal: there should be plenty of food for extras here.
The three cook-ahead meals use brown onions, so start by chopping all the onions at the same time. Even if you run out of time, you can always store them in an airtight container for later on, they will keep nicely. The same goes for any diced carrots. Peel all the garlic cloves you need at the same time as well.
The lamb curry takes the longest to cook, so start with that meal. Fry off the onions and other base ingredients. While they are frying, cut the ingredients for the lemon and garlic marinade and get your meat marinating. Since you are doubling the amount of meat, whenever you have a moment, take time to split the marinated meat into two parts and freeze one half in a snapback bag or plastic container that you can write on for another day.
Keep going with the lamb curry recipe, and when it gets to a simmering stage, start the bean mix for the bean quesadillas. It only takes a few minutes until you add the beans and tomatoes and leave that to simmer. Once the bean mix is cooked, set aside to cool.
The next step is to prep the ingredients for the chicken hokkien noodles. Cut all the fresh ingredients first, and then have the sauce ready to cook the chicken in. Soak the noodles in boiling water while you cook the chicken. Then cook the subsequent ingredients and assemble. You will only have to reheat this in the wok or the microwave that night.
Once both the bean quesadillas and the lamb curry are cooked, set them aside to cool and then divide in half and freeze half in another marked snaplock bags or plastic containers.
You now have four meals either cooked or almost ready to go, all the ingredients for another two quick meals, and the main part of another three meals in your freezer for a few weeks down the track.
PlanBuyCook is a great iPad app to get yourself organised. You can scale the meals to twice your family size for freezable meals and it calculates all the ingredients you need. Check it out at Appstore.com/planbuycook.