Thyme to Cook

Batch Cooking:

What is batch cooking?

Batch cooking is the term given to cooking a large quantity of food for use at a later stage, ultimately saving you time. For example - making a large quantity of bolognaise sauce, which you can separate into different freezer bags and use one for a jacket potato topping and another as part of a lasagne on another day. The objective with batch cooking is to save time during busy periods and love your freezer!

Batch Cooking:

What can I batch cook?

  • Bolognaise sauce - use as part of a lasagne, on its own mixed with pasta or as a topping for jacket potatoes. Easily freezes and defrosts well.
  • Beef chilli - serve with rice/smokey grains, wrapped in a flour tortilla or served on top of tortilla chips. Easily freezes and defrosts well.
  • Tomato sauce - the possibilities are endless. Can be used simply on its own mixed with pasta and roasted vegetables or added when you make a bolognaise. Easily freezes and defrosts well.
  • Curry sauce - so versatile. Any cooked meat leftover from Sunday's roast could be mixed with this sauce. Or keep it veggie and add chickpeas, spinach and any veg lurking in the bottom of the fridge that is looking past its best. Easily freezes and defrosts well.
  • Soups - so handy to have. Simple to make, a really easy lunch or light dinner. Any soup you might have leftover can easily become a sauce for another day. Easily freezes and defrosts well.
  • Casseroles - there is something very satisfying knowing dinner is already made and all you need to do is reheat it. A bit like wine, casseroles improve with age so even if this was a dish you made two days previous, it will taste de-lic-ious! Easily freezes and defrosts well.
  • Breads and Scones - so we have all embraced a love of baking in Lockdown, right? Our recipes are yeast free and so are really easy to make and freeze exceptionally well. You wouldn't be able to tell that they had been frozen and how lovely is it to be able to produce a nice homemade scone when someone pops round for a cuppa?

Love Your Freezer:

How do you defrost frozen food?

Take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you need it and allow to defrost in the fridge.

Love Your Freezer:

How do you freeze fresh vegetables?

Prepare them as you normally would, plunge into boiling water for three minutes and then plunge into ice cold water. Drain and pat dry. Line a flat tray with cling film that will fit in your freezer, then in an even layer spread the veggies on the tray and put in the freezer. Once frozen you can batch them up into freezer bags and label accordingly. Particularly effective with French beans, runner beans, cauliflower and broccoli. When you want to use them, return to a pan of boiling salted water for three minutes.

Love Your Freezer:

How do you freeze fresh fruit?

Fruit such as rhubarb, blueberries and raspberries can be frozen. Prepare and wash the fruit and gently pat dry. Evenly spread on a tray that will fit in the freezer. Once frozen, tip into a freezer proof container or zip lock freezer bag. Frozen rhubarb can be put in an ovenproof casserole and topped with lovely buttery crumble. The berries can be used frozen in smoothies or allowed to defrost and used as a topping for porridge or Greek yoghurt.

Love Your Freezer:

Can you freeze soup?

Once the soup is completely cold, we batch it up into portions of four and use large zip lock freezer bags. We then lay these flat in the freezer which saves space.

Love Your Freezer:

How do I freeze a casserole?

Once the casserole is completely cold, we batch them up in portions of four and use large zip lock freezer bags. We then lay them flat in the freezer so they freeze flat which saves space.

Love Your Freezer:

Can you freeze bread?

If, like us, you try to think of different things to have for lunch other than a sandwich, you may find some bread goes stale before you can use all of it. We say 'use your freezer'! We only ever have half a sliced loaf out for use - the other half is in the freezer and it defrosts in super quick time. You can put bread in the toaster from frozen too!

Love Your Freezer:

Can you put glass containers in the freezer?

Never use glass containers for freezing anything as they can shatter. There are loads of good quality plastic lidded containers on the market and the humble ice cream container is as good as any. So you're recycling too!

Love Your Freezer:

How can I prepare for meals and family get-togethers in advance?

Once Covid restrictions have eased you may well be thinking about having a family gathering at home. Spending a few minutes planning your menu in advance will help you get ahead with your prep and get some items cooked and into your freezer in advance. This gives you time to enjoy being with your loved ones rather than being stuck in the kitchen.

Love Your Freezer!:

How can I use my freezer better?

Keep an eye on what is actually in your freezer. What has been in there for a while and needs using up? Once you've done your weekly food shop, freeze any fresh food that you know you are not going to use within the next few days.

Recycling:

How can I be less wasteful with parchment paper?

Preparing baking tins is a bit of a pain, right? Line your baking trays with non stick parchment paper and keep together. No need to replace the parchment paper every time you bake a batch of cookies/scones.

Shopping:

How do I make the most of my shopping?

Before you do your food shop, have a look at what is still in your fridge, freezer, fruit bowl and cupboards. What's not looking so great but actually rather than waste food, could you make a soup or smoothie with those ingredients? Once you've done a stock take then spend 10 or 15 minutes planning what you're going to have for dinner for the following week. Take into account any dinners you may be going out for (not likely at the moment!) but this avoids over buying. This process might seem daunting however once you've done it a couple of times it just becomes part of your routine which ultimately will give you time (and money) back.

Store Cupboard Essentials:

What oils and seasonings should a good store cupboard contain?

  • Rapeseed Oil (good all round oil for cooking & marinading, low in saturated fat)
  • Olive Oil (for dressings)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper - cracked and ground

Store Cupboard Essentials:

What dried herbs should a good store cupboard contain?

  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leaves
  • Mixed Herbs

Store Cupboard Essentials:

What Spices should a good store cupboard contain?

  • Smoked Paprika
  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Coriander
  • Garam Masala
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Dried Chilli Flakes
  • Turmeric
  • Mustard Seeds
  • Mixed Spice

Store Cupboard Essentials:

What Tinned Goods should a good store cupboard contain?

  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chickpeas
  • Mixed spicy beans

Store Cupboard Essentials:

What Pulses & Pastas should a good store cupboard contain?

  • Red lentils
  • Bulghar wheat
  • Cous Cous
  • Basmati Rice (loose/microwavable pouches)
  • Pasta (fusilli / penne)
  • Noodles

Store Cupboard Essentials:

What Mustards should a good store cupboard contain?

  • English mustard
  • Grain mustard