I told you about my friend Jayne last time, didn’t I? After we went to Aldi, Farmfoods and the local market for some fresh fruit and veg, we went back to her place for an afternoon of batch cooking. I explained to her that the best way of saving money on throwing food away unnecessarily is to plan your meals in advance and then batch cook and freeze. For example, it’s surprising how many meals you can get out of a kilo of minced beef, which you can often find on offer at places like Farmfoods.
She had bought various fresh veg, tinned tomatoes, bacon bits and passata and already had some store cupboard ingredients in, such as stock cubes, Worcester sauce and dried herbs. At my insistence, she had also picked up 2 packs of fresh egg lasagne which was reduced as it was on the sell-by date, even though she didn’t usually make lasagne. “That’s okay, we can use that in other ways,” I said.
I showed her just how easy it is to make a basic savoury mince which can then be adapted into different dishes to freeze and use in the week. I simply fried diced onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery and then added the mince and browned it well. Some finely chopped smoked bacon was added for flavour and then passata, Worcester sauce and a tsp of mixed herbs. I simmered it for 20 mins and then it was ready to be served with the lasagne, cut into long strips as an alternative to tagliatelle for the girl’s tea that night.
“Split it into 4 and then we can make some different meals,” I explained. “One lot will be for tonight.” I then added chilli powder, a little cumin and a tin of baked beans to make chilli with another ¼ of it; two Oxos were added to another portion, which was then placed into ramekins to be topped with mashed potato to make a version of cottage pie and then the final portion was spooned onto the other sheets of lasagne which I had partially cooked. I then rolled them up to make cannelloni, which I placed into an ovenproof dish, ready to be topped with a simple tomato sauce, made from passata, mixed herbs and garlic.
“There you go; four different meals out of one pack of mince,” I smiled. “And you don’t have to spend time doing much cooking if you do it in one go, like we’ve just done.”
We had also bought some cheap cooking apples from the market, which closed at lunch time as it was a Wednesday, despite the fact that Jayne had never cooked apples before. I showed her how to simply bake them with a few sultanas and golden syrup for pudding that evening, and the rest went into a large apple crumble to be frozen for in the week.
We were just enjoying a welcome cuppa when the doorbell went. “Who’s that?” I wondered. Jayne shrugged her shoulders and went to answer the door. I couldn’t make out the words, but I could tell she was sounding animated for the first time in a while. She was beaming when she came back into the kitchen. “So???” I asked.
“That was the postman,” she grinned. “He asked me out for a drink on Friday. Would you sit with the girls for me?”
“Of course I will,” I smiled.
For every door that closes…