Cooking On A Budget With Caitriona Redmond – Wholesome Ireland
Is batch cooking the most effective way to feed your family?
I don’t know about you but a little part of me dies inside when I consider dedicating half a day a week to batch cooking. I mean, I can do it, but I’d rather be doing other stuff with the kids.
I have a few secrets that will get you the same results as a massive batch-cook that takes hours, and will help you save money.
- Plan ahead. Sit down once a week, whichever day is convenient and plan the week ahead. For me, this happens on a Friday and not at the start of the week. I look at what activities we have planned, which days I know I’m going to want to take it easy, and then check my store cupboard to see what I have to cook with and of course what I need to buy. Finally! I check the freezer to see if I have any meals already there that I can use on days I don’t want to cook or I need an extra few minutes doing homework or collecting the boys from activities.
- Have loads of fridge and freezer suitable containers. I love using boxes because they’re easy to stack and the food lasts longer in the freezer but plastic bags work just as well for short term freezing. Invest in a decent permanent marker and a roll of stickers so that you can label what you’ve stored. Mystery dinners are not as exciting as they sound when you defrost the wrong things!
- Prepare once, make double. This is the key money and time-saving tip. When making dinner, make enough for 2 meals. So peel twice the amount of spuds, prepare twice the amount of vegetables and cook them. Once cool, decant into those reliable containers, label, then freeze.
Using this double cooking method, once you get into the rhythm, means that you’ll cook 4 meals from scratch a week at most, what’s not to love?
Here’s a recipe for my tried and tested Thai Yellow Curry which I always make 2 batches of. One to eat, 1 to freeze and it’s very easy to reheat. You can easily adapt this recipe to add meat so watch my notes below:
This recipe serves our family of 5 with a small amount of leftovers. There is no need to serve with rice so it’s all cooked in the one pot. Once cooled to room temperature, this Thai Yellow Curry will keep for up to 1 month in the freezer.
- 400ml tin of coconut milk
- 3 teaspoons Thai yellow curry paste
- 2 small onions, diced
- 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
- 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 medium turnip (swede), peeled and cubed
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 400ml of hot water/vegetable stock
- Pour the coconut milk into a large pot and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring often to make sure the milk doesn’t split. Once at simmering point (not boiling), stir in the curry paste. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes and add the diced onion, sugar and salt.If you would like to add meat to your curry, add slices of chicken breast or steak at this stage.
- Leave the pot simmering for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, potato and turnip. Stir well to make sure they are coated in the sauce then turn down the heat and cover the pot, top up the sauce with the hot stock so that all the vegetables are covered. Leave the pot to slowly bubble away for 40 minutes. After which time, stir in the frozen peas and red pepper. Simmer for a final 4 minutes then serve.