Theres something really nice about knowing your going home at the end of the day to a lovely home cooked meal. There isn't always something lovely about the idea of going home and having to make that home cooked meal at the end of the day.
It's pretty obvious that eating something that's been home cooked, using decent ingredients is going to be better for you than something processed and stuck in a microwave ,but it's not always that simple. Stocking up your freezer however, can be.
If you know you've got a busy week ahead or you'll be away, leaving a less than confident cook fending for themselves, spending a little bit of time on a Sunday afternoon can make your week so much easier.
I always use disposable tins topped with foil, it means that your entire arsenal of kitchen dishes and pans isn't stuck in your freezer (you also risk them shattering in the heat extremes of the freezer and oven) and as the aim of the game is reducing hassle, it cuts down the weekday washing up. You could use plastic tupperware dishes but these do need washing up and cannot be thrown in the oven and ignored for an hour whilst you pour yourself a well deserved glass of wine and catch up with your DVR.
These foil dishes are slightly concertina-ed at the corners, so if you end up needed to reheat in a hurry you can pop the frozen block out of the tin and into something microwaveable.
If you are cooking for a family, group of friends or housemates, get large dishes for multiple portions. I usually use a 2 person portion foil dishes, that way if it's a time saving quick meal for two of us it's all there or if it's for someone on their todd there's only a small amount of leftovers for the next day or a lunch.
Choose a couple of dishes that can be heated up in the oven and doesn't involve any prodding and poking when they are re-animated. My go to's are:
Replacing the mashed potato topping with mashed cauliflower ups the vegetable content of this 'all in one' meal, meaning there's little need for any side dishes and extra preparation. Packed with carrots, peas and turnip this is a hearty, healthy freezer favourite
Though the sliced, spiced peppers, onions and chicken do well from some accompanying tortilla wraps and sour cream, these are both items with a long shelf/fridge life (you can even freeze tortillas) so you can have these on hand easily
Using the lean turkey mince rather than beef means making a large batch and enjoying it a couple of times in one week doesn't damage any diets! The accompanying rice is a one pot side dish, if time (or kitchen prowess) is really of the essence, steam packs of rice are easy to have in the cupboard.
My love of curry is well documented so this can hardly be a surprise! Anything with spices in it LOVES being slow cooked or heated in the oven, you won't feel like this is a convenience food- convenience doesn't mean flavourless. Try my recipe for Creamy Chicken Curry.
What ever floats your boat in terms of pie filling, I love chicken and leek in cider sauce, pre-making and freezing them makes for a perfect home cooked dinner with little stress. Pile your filling in to a dish then top with a slab of pastry (use this rough puff recipe for a quick homemade version). When reheating, leave the foil on for the first half hour before removing it for the final cooking time to let the pastry puff and brown on top.
Lasagne and Pasta Bakes
Pasta is a great carrier for loads of different kinds of flavours and sauces. Using wholemeal pasta is a great way to add in some extra goodness, make up a wholesome sauce from tomatoes and peppers (you can use this recipe if you want to keep it all home made) and smoother the pasta with it, or even replace the pasta with aubergine something incredibly virtuous!- Try my recipe for Aubergine Cannelloni