The best meals to batch cook

Shepherd’s pie

Most people have a tried and trusted shepherd’s pie recipe they’ve been cooking for years. The fabulous thing about this dish is that it’s great for using up leftovers. The odd slightly soft carrot or handful of wilting green beans will come to life when thrown in a shepherd’s pie. Extra veg will also make the meal go further, saving you even more money.

Recipe: Serves 5-6 at 57p per head
Ingredients and cost
500g Tesco Everyday Value Lamb/Mutton – £2.39 2 Tesco Everyday Value Brown Onions – aprox 10p 1kg Tesco Everyday Value Potatoes – 36p A few tbsp Tesco Everyday Value Gravy Granules – aprox 2p

Store cupboard ingredients
Seasoning, knob of butter and splash of milk

Method
1. Peel and chop 1kg of potatoes and put onto boil 2. Fry 2 small onions until soft in a little olive oil, then stir in 500g minced lamb. Fry until the meat has coloured 3. Add in 300ml of thin gravy (use about half the recommended amount of granules) and season to taste and simmer for 15 mins, add a little water if the mix becomes dry 4. Once the potatoes have cooked, drain and mash with a little butter and a splash of milk 5. Portion the meat out into individual containers and top with the mash potato 6. Seal, label, cool and freeze

Notes
If you want to use up any leftover veg, chop it up and add it to the frying onion. Make sure carrots and other root veg are chopped quite small so they cook through

Lasagne

A family favourite and easy to prepare, a delicious meaty lasagne is a filling meal, cheap to cook and easy to portion and freeze. To make the mince go even further, add an extra onion and tin of tomatoes. No one will know the difference and you’ll get an extra portion for less than 40p.

Recipe: Serves 5-6 at 76p per head
Ingredients and cost
2 Tesco Everyday Value Brown Onions – aprox 10p 500g Tesco Everyday Value Beef Mince – £1.56 250g Tesco Everyday Value Lasagne Sheets – 36p 430g Tesco White Lasagne Pasta Sauce – £1.19 2x400g Tesco Everyday Value Chopped Tomatoes – 62p

Store cupboard ingredients
Big pinch of mixed herbs/oregano/basil, seasoning, olive oil and handful of grated cheese

Method
1. Fry off the onions in the oil until soft, then add the mince beef and cook until it colours 2. Add in the tomatoes and herbs and simmer for 20 mins 3. Layer the meat, uncooked pasta sheets and cheese sauce in your freezable containers. Do this in any order you like, just make sure your top layer is cheese sauce, then sprinkle the cheese on top of that 4. Cool, label and freeze (don’t cook the layered lasagne before freezing)

Notes
Lasagne is a great dish to use up leftover veg, tomatoes, carrots and mushrooms are perfect. If you have any mince leftover, freeze separately it serve and with spaghetti

Curried carrot soup

Soup is one of the best ways to create a cheap family meal – and a sneaky way of getting veg-shy kids to get one of their 5-a-day! Served with chunky bread it’s filling, too.

Recipe: Serves 4 at 28p per head
Ingredients and costs
3xTesco Everyday Value Brown Onions – aprox 15p Aprox 2tbsp Tesco Everyday Value Medium Curry Powder – approx 20p 750g Tesco Everyday Value Carrots – 75p 1 litre vegetable stock using Tesco Everyday Value Vegetable Stock Cubes – 1p

Store cupboard ingredients
Seasoning

Method
1. Roughly chop and fry the onions until soft, then stir in the peeled and chopped carrots 2. Mix in the curry powder (adjust amount to taste)
3. Poor in stock and leave to simmer for 20 mins 4. Blend, season to taste, cool, label and freeze

Notes
Freezing soup in freezer bags in a plastic container makes the soup easy to store and saves space.

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Batch cooking tips
Old plastic takeaway containers are great to use for freezing your batch cooking as individual portions Buy your ingredients in the ‘reduced’ section in the supermarket and cook them straight away Make sure all containers are freezer proof and airtight. Food will dry out and spoil if it isn’t covered properly Label all containers with the date and the name of the meal – lots of dishes will last up to six months in the freezer – plenty of time to forget what you’ve cooked!
Cool food before freezing Defrost food thoroughly before re-heating and make sure it’s piping hot all the way through before serving Foods can expand when they freeze, so always leave a bit of room in the container otherwise they may burst out and spoil (plus cause a big mess to clear up!)
Only freeze freshly cooked food and never re-freeze leftovers

Where to next?

How to make the mosts of your freezer

Healthy, cheap after school snacks

Have a bargain BBQ