Lentil ragu with spaghetti

A guide to get-ahead dinners

Learning to love your freezer and planning ahead can take the heat out of frantic midweek meals. Lily Barclay shares her top tips for get-ahead dinners.

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to revert to basic freezer food like oven chips or fish fingers – especially when you’ve had a hectic day and you’ve got tired, hungry kids on your hands.

Advertisement

Putting a couple of hours aside at the weekend for some batch cooking will make a huge difference to how the rest of your week goes, and you’ll have the satisfaction of feeding your family nourishing, home-cooked meals – minus the washing-up. It’s also a great way of monitoring your shopping costs, as you won’t get caught out by use-by-dates and end up throwing things away.

You could even get the kids to pitch in and lend you a hand if you’re faced with yet another rainy day stuck indoors. But if you don’t have time for a cooking blitz, then simply make double as you go along for a few weeks, and your freezer will be bursting before you know it.

Budget and healthy

These cheap, freezable and healthy recipes tick all the boxes when it comes to feeding a family.

Mumbai potato wrapsFull of fresh, light flavours, these low-fat wraps can be adjusted to meet your family’s spice requirements.Mumbai potato wraps with minted yogurt relish

BBQ beans with mashed potato tops

Kids on school holidays? These one-pot pies make a delicious, healthy and filling lunch.

BBQ beans with mashed potato tops

Lentil ragu

Struggling to get five-a-day into the kids? This super-healthy ragu will get you four steps closer, and it’s easy too.

Lentil ragu

Five-a-day tagineKids will never know they are wolfing down their five-a-day with this beautifully sweet and fragant tagine.Five-a-day tagine

Toddlers and teens

These recipes have all been designed with the whole family in mind, from toddlers to teens, and servings can feed a family of four to six, or be divided into six to eight toddler meals. Tailoring recipes to suit a younger palate without negotiating on taste or interest, means you should be able to avoid feeding very young children separately.

Easy fish pieA simple, creamy pie that feeds everyone from babies and toddlers to teens – and it’s a great way of getting a good portion of fish into them, too.Easy fish pie

Easy lamb tagine

Ingredients like sweet, juicy apricots and tender butternut squash make this a winner with kids and adults alike.

Easy lamb tagine

Easy beef stew with sweet potato topping

Crammed full of hidden veg, this comforting pie is a great way of filling up the whole family.

Easy beef stew with sweet potato topping

Easy fish cakes

Freeze a batch of these and you’ll always have a last-minute kids’ supper close to hand. The mix of potato and protein means you can just add some fresh steamed veg and dinner is done.

Easy fish cakes

Make a batch with mince

Supermarket deals on mince are perfect for batch cooking, and there are plenty of exciting ways to make the most of offers so your freezer sees the benefits rather than the bin.

Turkey chilli jacket potatoes

Lamb & apricot meatballs

Cottage pie

Ultimate makeover burgers

Classic Swedish meatballs

Beef, leek & swede Cumberland pie

Why stop there…

On a roll? If you want to feel seriously smug, check out some of these freezable pudding and cake recipes – perfect for coffee mornings, family get-togethers or entertaining friends.

Lemon drizzle cake

Yummy scrummy carrot cake

Apple pie samosas

Advertisement

What are your best tips for get ahead cooking? Leave a comment below…