Cook once, meals for a week

Cook once, meals for a week

Set aside three hours on a Sunday and do some pre-cooking for a week of easy dinners.

All it takes is one Sunday afternoon cooking session to have dinner sorted for the week ahead! With our three-part process, simply prepare the base mix recipes, store them in the fridge/freezer, and then it just takes some hands-on time to assemble your weeknight dinners.

Part 1: What to do on Sunday

Before you start, make sure you have…

For cooking

  • All ingredients from shopping list (see below)
  • 2 medium-sized non-stick pans
  • 1 large roasting pan for roasted veges
  • 1 smaller roasting pan for kumara
  • 1 non-stick frying pan or wok
  • 2 x 30cm x 20cm (or larger) tinfoil containers or freezer-proof dishes (to freeze meat loaf and lasagne)

For storage and labelling

  • Containers and freezer bags
  • Labels and a marker pen

Step 1

  • Begin with preparing Basic roasted vege mix and Roasted orange kumara bases (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Preheat oven to 190°C. Chop up vegetables and cook for 45-60 minutes.
  • Cook 2 1/2 cups quinoa. When cooked, divide into two and set aside.
  • Make up base Spicy chicken tenders mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and put on to cook.
  • Make up base Spicy mince mix (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and put on to cook.
  • After 30 minutes, check on roasted vegetables and kumara. Turn once and re-spray with oil.
  • Once Spicy mince mix has cooked, divide in half: one portion for Quinoa meat loaf (to be used for Meat loaf with roasted veges) Friday; second portion for Kumara-topped mince pie, Tuesday. Place second portion in a bag or container for pie and leave to cool.
  • Once Spicy chicken tenders mix is cooked, remove from heat. Set aside.
  • Make up base Quinoa meat loaf (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) and place in a freezer-proof tray or dish.
  • Remove vegetables from oven. Leave to cool.

Step 2

  • Divide Spicy chicken tenders mix in two equal portions.
  • Prepare base Chicken lasagne (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below) with one portion of Spicy chicken tenders mix and one portion of Basic roasted vege mix. Place in a freezer-proof ovenproof dish. Leave to cool.
  • Place other Spicy chicken tenders mix portion and one-third of Basic roasted vege mix in separate containers for Chicken sizzler with hummus and vege wraps, Monday. Leave to cool uncovered.
  • Make up base Stir-fry vege quinoa (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Leave to cool.

Step 3

  • Prepare base Salmon, vege and chickpea quiche-in-a-bag (see Part 2: Base mix recipes below). Label and freeze.
  • Place Roasted kumara in a container labelled for Kumara-topped mince pie, Tuesday. Place in fridge once cold.
  • Cover and label Spicy mince mix portion for Kumara-topped mince pie and place in fridge.
  • Place remaining Basic roasted vege mix in a freezer-proof container labelled Meat loaf with roasted veges, Friday.
  • Cover items for Chicken sizzler and place in fridge.
  • Divide Stir-fry vege quinoa in two bagged portions. Seal, label and freeze.

After this cooking session, you will have…

For the fridge

  • Spicy chicken tenders mix (1)
  • Basic roasted vege mix (1)
  • Spicy mince mix (1)
  • Roasted orange kumara (1)

For the freezer

  • Basic roasted vege mix (1)
  • Salmon, vege and chickpea quiche-in-a-bag (1)
  • Stir-fry vege quinoa (2)
  • Chicken lasagne base (1)
  • Quinoa meat loaf (1)

NOTE: Salmon and quinoa mixes need overnight defrosting on Tuesday for use Wednesday. Chicken lasagne base and Quinoa meat loaf need overnight defrosting Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, for use Thursday and Friday.

Top tips for successful freezing

  • Food to be frozen should be as fresh as possible.
  • Cool food completely before freezing.
  • Never refreeze anything that has already been frozen.
  • Make sure you wrap foods properly and put them in a sealed container or bag.
  • Freeze items in the quantities suggested so you have no wastage.
  • Label foods clearly with a marker pen. Date items if you are not going to eat during the planned week.
  • Defrost food thoroughly before cooking. Remove from the freezer the night before cooking the following day and store in the fridge.
  • Remove as much air as possible from items being packed in freezer bags.

Shopping list

Fresh vegetables

  • 2 onions
  • 3 cups mushrooms
  • bunch parsley (optional)
  • 6 courgettes or carrots
  • 6 red onions
  • 3 red or green capsicums
  • 3 parsnips
  • 10 baby potatoes
  • 2 beetroot
  • 4 kumara (600g)
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 large bags rocket
  • 1 head garlic
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger

Frozen vegetables

  • corn kernels (2 cups)
  • 350g free-flow spinach
  • 400g Asian-style stir-fry mix
  • 400g stir-fry mix

Chilled items

  • reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1 cup, grated)
  • 6 eggs
  • 400g fresh lasagne sheets

Meat and poultry

  • 900g lean beef mince
  • 900g chicken tenders or skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Bottled/canned products, dry goods

  • red wine (1/4 cup)
  • liquid no-added-salt beef stock (1/4 cup)
  • 2 x 670g jars passata
  • quinoa (2 1/2 cups)
  • rolled oats (1/2 cup)
  • breadcrumbs (1/4 cup)
  • dates (1/4 cup)
  • lite coconut-flavoured evaporated milk (2 cups)
  • 425g can pink salmon
  • 2x400g cans chickpeas
  • 4 wheatmeal wraps
  • wholegrain bread (6 slices)

Seasonings and pantry staples

Check your pantry to see what you already have in store.

  • olive oil
  • salt, to season
  • curry powder (2 tablespoons)
  • chilli powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • oil spray
  • dried chilli flakes (1/4 teaspoon)
  • self-raising flour (1/2 cup)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Cajun seasoning (2 teaspoons)
  • tahini (1 tablespoon)
  • dried mixed herbs (1 teaspoon)
  • balsamic dressing (2 tablespoons)
  • Tuscan seasoning (2 tablespoons)
  • tomato paste (4 tablespoons)
  • sun-dried tomato pesto or Mediterranean Paste — Gourmet Garden (2 tablespoons)
  • salt-reduced soy sauce

Part 2: Base mix recipes

Here are the base mix recipes (see Part 3: Your week of dinners below for the daily recipes).

Cook once, meals for a weekBasic roasted vege mix

Makes 3 portions
Total cost $22.00
Time to make 55 mins

  • oil spray
  • 3 red onions, sliced
  • 3 red or green capsicums, sliced
  • 4 courgettes or carrots, cut in chunks
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, sliced
  • 10 baby potatoes, sliced
  • 2 beetroot, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Tuscan seasoning

Step 1 Preheat oven to 190°C. Spray a large ovenproof dish with oil and place vegetables in tray.

Step 2 Spray vegetables with oil and sprinkle with herbs. Bake for 50-55 minutes, turning once, until lightly golden.

Step 3 Cool then divide veges into 3 portions. Store two portions in the fridge, and use other portion for Chicken lasagne base (see base mix 6. below).

Cook once, meals for a weekSalmon, vege and chickpea quiche-in-a-bag

Makes 1 portion
Total cost $15.36
Time to make 15 mins

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups light coconut-flavoured evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 425g can salmon, large chunks
  • 1 cup canned, drained chickpeas
  • 1-2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 400g Asian-style stir-fry vege mix
  • 1 cup grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly

Step 1 Mix eggs, milk and flour together with a whisk. Add salmon, chickpeas, stir-fry veges and cheese.

Step 2 Pour into freezer bag labelled Salmon quiche (Wednesday) and freeze.

Cook once, meals for a weekSpicy mince mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $24.00
Time to make 30 mins

  • oil spray
  • 900g lean beef mince
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup liquid no-added-salt beef stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 670g jar passata
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Step 1 Heat a large non-stick pan with a little oil and brown mince. Add remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, stirring to mix well. Simmer, stirring twice, for 20-25 minutes until thickened.

Step 2 Cool completely. Divide in 2 portions. Place 1 portion in a bag labelled Kumara mince pie (Tuesday) and place in fridge. Use remaining portion to make Quinoa meat loaf (see base mix 7. below).

Cook once, meals for a weekSpicy chicken tenders mix

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $23.00
Time to make 20-25 mins

  • oil spray
  • 900g lean chicken tenderloins or skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto or Mediterranean paste (we used Gourmet Garden)
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

Step 1 Heat a non-stick pan with oil and cook chicken until evenly cooked and pinky colour is lost. Drain off any liquid. Add garlic, chilli flakes, pesto and onions and cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring halfway through.

Step 2 Divide mix in half and place 1 portion in a container labelled Chicken sizzlers (Monday). Leave uncovered to cool completely then once cooled cover and place in fridge. Use other portion to make Chicken lasagne (Thursday).

Cook once, meals for a weekStir-fry vege quinoa

Makes 2 portions
Total cost $7.00
Time to make 10 mins

  • oil spray
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 400g frozen stir-fry veges
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1–1 1/2 tablespoons salt-reduced soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper

Step 1 Spray a pan or wok with oil over a high heat. Add quinoa and quickly stir with a spatula.

Step 2 When heated through, add veges and garlic. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Step 3 Push quinoa to side of pan. Crack eggs and begin stirring with spatula until almost set. Mix in rest of quinoa mixture. Add soy sauce. Season with pepper to taste.

Step 4 Cool before placing equal portions in 2 bags. Seal and label bags Salmon quiche (Wednesday) and Chicken lasagne (Thursday). Place both bags in the freezer.

6. Chicken lasagne (base)

Makes 1 portion
Total cost $36.60
Time to make 15 mins

  • 400g fresh lasagne sheets
  • 1 portion Spicy chicken tenders mix (see base mix 4. above)
  • 350g frozen free-flow spinach
  • 1 portion Basic roasted vege mix (see base mix 1. above)
  • 670g jar passata
  • 1/2 cup grated reduced fat cheddar cheese

Step 1 Layer lasagne sheets, Spicy chicken tenders mix, frozen free-flow spinach and Basic roasted vege mix in a freezer-proof tinfoil container, finishing with a pasta layer.

Step 2 Pour over passata and sprinkle with cheese.

Step 3 Cool completely before freezing. Label Chicken lasagne (Thursday).

7. Quinoa meat loaf

Makes 1 portion
Total cost $15.30
Time to make 15 mins

  • 1 portion Spicy mince mix (see base mix 3. above)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups grated courgettes (or carrots)

Step 1 Combine all ingredients. Spoon into a tinfoil loaf tin.

Step 2 Cool completely before wrapping for freezer. Label Meat loaf (Friday).

8. Roasted orange kumara

Makes 1 portion
Total cost $7.00
Time to make 45 mins

  • oil spray
  • 600g kumara, peeled, cut in wedges

Step 1 Spray a small ovenproof dish with oil. Place kumara in dish and spray with oil. Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning once, until lightly golden and soft.

Step 2 Cool completely. Place kumara in a bag and label Kumara-topped mince pie (Tuesday).

Part 3: Your week of dinners

Using the Base mixes (see Part 2 above), here are your dinner recipes for the week.

Monday: Chicken sizzler with hummus and vege wraps

Tuesday: Kumara-topped mince pie

Wednesday: Salmon, vege and chickpea quiche

Thursday: Chicken lasagne

Friday: Meat loaf with roasted veges

Author: Sarah Swain

Healthy Food Guide

First published: Aug 2013

2018-08-15 12:56:32

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