Because I am a greedy pig, one of the things I was most looking forward to about maternity leave was stocking the freezer with meals in preparation for when our baby arrives. The thought of having a freezer stocked with healthy meals which simply need to be defrosted and heated fills me with happiness, so I allocated my first day of maternity leave to a cooking extravaganza.
A kilo of minced beef and a kilo of minced pork slowly cooked with onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes, seasoning and herbs made five portions of bolognaise sauce. Combined with homemade bechemel and lasagne sheets I had one large and one medium lasagne as well.
Another kilo of minced beef, more tomatoes, onions, chilli powder, chilli flakes, cayenne and kidney beans made six portions of chilli (albeit a very mild one as I am not very into spice during this pregnancy).
Two packs of boneless chicken thighs, a chorizo sausage, carrots, onions, pearl barley, stock and paprika made four portions of chicken stew.
A kilo of minced lamb, swede, carrots, onions and tomatoes made enough for four shepherd’s pie fillings (although they could also make even more of my shepherds pie jackets) – they’ll just need to be topped with freshly mashed potatoes and then baked.
I also made three corned beef pies (recipe on the way), using two tins of corned beef, four potatoes, two onions and a kilo of shortcrust pastry (I couldn’t face making my own during this particular cooking extravaganza!).
I stewed enough rhubarb for four portions (either to eat with yoghurt or as crumbles), and even more bramley apples with cinnamon for a future appearance in apple crumbles.
Then I made two madeira cakes, a chocolate loaf cake and a lemon drizzle cake for the freezer for when people come visiting our little one (or when healthy and nutritious meals won’t cut it, and I just want cake!).
All the cooking took a full day while Andrew was at work, and then I had to leave everything to cool before I could portion and freeze it, so it was a bit of a labour of love, but each time I open my freezer it makes me smile with satisfaction to see the shelves full of good food. I’d also like to make some cookie dough to freeze so that I can have freshly baked biscuits in minutes, but I’ll save that for this week as I ran out of butter and sugar!
I am just finishing off the last random bits and pieces in there (the odd spring roll, a couple of potato waffles, some random pasta, one chicken breast and a pack of chopped chorizo) before I do a final shop of ‘easy to cook’ food which can live in the freezer for Andrew to cook for us. His culinary skills are limited so is likely to include fishfingers, sausages, fishcakes and pizzas. Then I’ll have some salmon steaks, meat and shellfish for when I have the time / inclination to actually get back into the kitchen and cook from scratch.
I also always have frozen fruit and veg in the freezer for smoothies and side dishes, so will make sure there is plenty of both in stock.
So to finish those last bits and pieces in my freezer, and making the most of my extremely full larder, I have the following plans for the week. I am not specifying days as it’s Andrew’s birthday week and the baby could arrive at any time, so we’re not planning meals or celebrations, but hope to eat the following, bulked out with veggies from the fridge:
- Steak and stilton bake (using up half a pack of minced beef and some puff pastry, with some stilton from the fridge)
- Ravioli (random pack from the freezer) with chorizo (also from the freezer) and fresh tomatoes
- Thai green chicken curry (chicken breast from the freezer with store cupboard goodies)
- Pea and ham soup to use up the ham stock in the freezer, with cheese toasties
- Spring rolls with … I do not know what!
What are your plans for the week, and do you have any tips for what I could dish up with the spring rolls?