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.
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.
Struggling to get five-a-day into the kids? This super-healthy ragu will get you four steps closer, and it's easy too.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
What are your best tips for get ahead cooking? Leave a comment below...