Thursday, 29 March 2012

Batch Cooking for the Freezer

In the last three days I have made quite a lot of food. I've cooked for between 2 and 5 people each night, although admittedly often it only involved shoving something out of the freezer into the oven for a while, but in between times I've made spaghetti bolognese sauce, curry, meatfree meatballs in a tomato sauce, spinach spaghetti, and shepherd's pie. I've filled fifteen individual portion containers and I've not even divided up the pie yet.

The curry wasn't an enormous success, because at the last minute I decided to randomly throw in some lentils which didn't really cook as much as I'd have liked, and because I didn't chop the carrots small enough. However, defrosting and reheating should soften up both of those problems a little and my brother tried it and declared it was fine. He isn't a huge fan of curry anyway, which I discovered after I'd started cooking.

The meatballs was the thing that made me most hungry. I improvised with the sauce, pouring in a can of tomatoes here and some Ragu sauce there, and adding a packet mix meant for the bolognese to thicken it up a little. I also put in some blue cheese, my mum's secret ingredient for adding a bite to the flavour. Doling it out into the little tubs without getting to eat any was hard.

The bolognese smelt pretty good too, although I think I put a bit too much sugar in: a half teaspoon would probably have sufficed, rather than a whole one. It's amazing how much of a difference adding a tiny amount of sugar and salt makes to the flavour.

And today's big project, the shepherd's pie, wasn't really cooking. I browned some vegetarian mince but after that it was simply mixing: the shepherd's pie packet mix, the tinned carrots and peas, and (shameful to admit it) the instant mashed potato to spread on top. It looks great and smells incredible, and although it would probably have been marginally healthier if I had made it from scratch it would also have taken longer and required more effort.

When I get back to university I think I'm going to repeat this week's marathon cooking sessions to refill my freezer once I've defrosted it. The only way I've prevented myself from sampling each dish has been by promising myself I would make it again and this time get to keep it all. For now I'm rather proud of the parade of neatly-labelled boxes sitting in the freezer.

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