My beautiful new goddaughter Abbie is, unsurprisingly, a time-consuming little critter. I hit the shops to buy the kiddo a little present, but then I remembered some wise words from Jean: new parents don’t get time to eat.
These tiny people, cute as they are, demand a lot of attention. When my sister had her first baby, I used to pop around for a few minutes so she could have a chance to shower. Cooking a dinner was both daunting and impossible.
I decided that Abbie would have plenty of clothes. What was really needed was some nosh for her folks. So I set about making mountains of food that they could jam into the freezer.
The containers – the silver foil trays you used to get from Chinese takeaways – are pricey enough: €2.79 for a packet of Glad foil trays with lids. If you’re planning on filling up the fridge, you do need decent containers and you need to be able to label them, otherwise you’ll forget what’s what. If anybody can suggest a cheaper alternative, please let me know.
The hardest part is deciding what to make. My sister Barbara recently got the recipe for Domini Kemp’s Chunky Veg and Lentil soup from the new Itsa cookbook. Just as delicious as in Itsa, but she discovered that it doesn’t freeze well, losing texture and flavour when defrosted.
Barbs is a great cook and often spends an evening cooking up meals for the week, but she’s cautious. Lots of vegetables don’t freeze well, she said. Cream tends to separate when defrosted. She’s even wary of stews and casseroles, which should be freezer staples.
Curries freeze well, as do tomato-based dishes and well-blended soups. Home-made bread would, of course, freeze very well, but I figured meals would be more useful for a new mother.
In the end I made a bolognaise sauce (useful for pitta pockets, spaghetti bolognaise, or as a base for lasagna), this Curried Red Lentil and Vegetable soup, and an updated version of this Roasted Vegetable Sauce, adding in some fresh basil and a squeeze of tomato puree. I made a total of 13 portions, so it should keep the new parents (who are both brilliant in their new roles) fed for a while to come.
Now I’m all up for cooking in bulk for the freezer. I only have to look after myself, so I reckon one evening a week every ten days or so could keep me in lunches and dinners for quite a while. But I’m on the look out for any recipe ideas that don’t involve soup, tomatoes, or curries, and which would freeze well. Readers, do you cook in bulk? Is it cheaper and more convenient? And what works/ doesn’t work in the freezer?