It’s starting to get very busy on the farm for us and we are expecting 750 baby lambs in the next few weeks! So I’m trying to batch cook at the moment and freeze meals, as our evenings will be taken up with looking after the sheep and lambs. Batch cooking is a great way to spend a rainy day, and it’s so handy to have some meals in the freezer that can be taken out the night before, defrosted in the fridge overnight and reheated when you get home from work. I’d highly recommend batch cooking when you have time and freeze portions – it will ensure you always have healthy, prepared meals at the ready for those days when you are too busy to cook from scratch.
Some freezer bags or good quality plastic containers are all you need to freeze portions of your batch cooking. You can also buy foil containers with lids in most supermarkets and Euro shops which are really handy for freezing. Remember to always label your containers as I guarantee you will forget what’s in them!
Suitable recipes for batch cooking and freezing include: Shepherd’s pie, chilli, Bolognese sauce, chicken curry, chicken & broccoli pie, lasagne and any type of casserole. You can even cook up a big pot of mashed potato and freeze it in portions to go along with your meals.
Here’s my recipe for a really easy and delicious beef casserole. This recipe is ideal for you if you (like me) are not good at making gravies and sauces. You don’t have to mess around with roux or cornflour. It all goes into the one pot and turns into a delicious sauce in the oven. Try it!
This casserole is suitable for all the family. It can be pureed or mashed to suit the weaning stage (be sure to use low salt stock cubes for weaning recipes). You could add other vegetables e.g. parsnip. It always tastes better when served the following day so refrigerate overnight if you are not freezing it.
Makes 4 servings. Cost per serving: Approx €2.00.
- 1 large ovenproof dish with lid (if you don’t have a dish with a lid, just use some tinfoil to cover the dish)
- 800g lean stewing beef pieces
- 1.5 tbsp flour
- 2 beef stock cubes (use a low salt stock cube such as Kallo)
- 800ml water
- 2tbsp tomato puree
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- Mashed potato to serve
1) Heat oven to 160oC/gas 3. Fill kettle and boil.
2) Put the beef pieces in the dish and sprinkle over the flour. Using a large spoon, mix the beef around until the flour has coated the beef.
3) Add in the vegetables and mix to distribute.
4) Put the stock cubes in a jug and pour in 800ml boiling water from the kettle. Allow to stand for a minute, then mix with a fork to dissolve the stock cubes. Add the tomato puree to the stock and whisk again with the fork.
5) Pour the stock and tomato puree mix over the beef and vegetables. Push the beef and veg down into the stock to make sure they are covered, otherwise they will dry out during cooking.
6) Cover the dish with the lid or some tinfoil and place in the oven. Allow to cook for 2 hours (check after 1 hour and give it a stir).
7) After 2 hours, remove the lid or tinfoil and return to the oven for 30 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce slightly and thicken.
8) Serve with mashed potato or allow to cool, then freeze individual portions.
Nutrition information per serving (without mash): 350 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturates, 16g carbohydrate, 46g protein. High in Iron & Potassium. Source of Fibre & Folate.
Nutrition information per serving (with mash): 437 calories, 12g fat, 5g saturates, 36g carbohydrate, 49g protein. High in Fibre, Iron & Potassium. Source of Folate & Vitamin C.