Do it once

Photo: Love Hate Food Waste NZ
Photo: Love Hate Food Waste NZ
Maximise your kitchen efforts, minimise food waste effortlessly and skip the daily hassle of cooking from scratch with the beauty of batch cooking, suggest the folks at Love Food Hate Waste.

Setting aside a few hours on the weekend or your day off to cook a couple bulk meals will save you the daily stresses of preparing meals from scratch. Imagine coming home after a long day to find a freezer stocked with ready-to-heat meals for dinner and saving money by not having to buy lunch for work. All that is needed is a quick reheat!

Cooking in bulk can also help you stretch your dollars further while having the satisfaction of a well-balanced, home-cooked meal. Buying ingredients in larger quantities often comes with cost savings, and preparing meals in bulk allows you to take advantage of sales and multi-buy discounts. It is also a chance to use up the ingredients before they pass their use by date or before the veges start to wilt.

When packing food away we recommend cooling before putting in the fridge, otherwise they will raise the temperature of the fridge and this may be a food safety risk. Always remember to get your meals in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Then transfer into the freezer once cooled from the fridge, putting hot food in the freezer may cause foods around it to defrost, which may also cause a food safety risk.

While we’re on the topic of fridges and freezers, it is also a good opportunity to check the temperatures in there. Our recommendation is to keep the fridge temperature between 1°C-4°C and the freezer at minus 18°C.

Ready to try out batch cooking? You may already be cooking meals that work well cooked in bigger batches, such as casseroles, chilli mixes, or spaghetti bolognese, here are a few more ideas to get the meal planning started.

Stews and soups: Chicken stew, potato and leek soup, gumbo, lentil and coconut soup, or minestrone are all excellent options.

Curries: Butter chicken, beef rendang, vege stalk and kumara, rogan josh, Thai green or red curry, a massaman curry, whatever your favourite is, they are great versatile options that can be made in large quantities and frozen.

Casseroles and slow-cooked meals: Whether it’s a sausage casserole, shepherd’s pie, a Moroccan chicken casserole, casseroles are perfect for batch cooking.

Chowders: Corn chowder, fish or seafood chowder are all comforting options that freeze and reheat well.

Rice or grain bowls: Prepare a generous batch of rice or your choice of grain, such as quinoa, and pair them with different proteins and vegetables. Just be sure to cool your rice quickly so it’s safe to eat. Risotto and jambalaya are also great rice dishes that suit batch cooking.

Baked pasta dishes: Make a big tray of lasagna, macaroni and cheese, or your favourite pasta bakes, and portion into smaller servings. Try out our versatile creamy one-pot pasta recipe, use it as a starting point and add or swap out ingredients that suit your household and make it your own.

Stir-fries: Cook up a variety of stir-fried vegetables and proteins, pair them with your favourite sauces and seasonings, and serve with rice or noodles.

For more

 - For more inspiration, recipes and tips visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz or find us @lovefoodhatewastenz on Facebook and Instagram.

Creamy one-pot pasta

Ingredients

½ packet (250g) dried pasta

400g cooked shredded chicken

2-3 cups chopped fresh veges or frozen veges

2 Tbsp oil

About 2 cups stock or water

2 cups milk

Salt and pepper

Optional additions/toppings

Grated cheese

Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, sage etc.)

Extra veges (steamed, roasted, fresh leafy salad or crisp slaw)

Method

1. Combine pasta, chicken, veges, oil, stock or water and milk in a large pot. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer over medium high heat.

2. Simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is almost cooked, stirring occasionally.

3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Finish by adding your choice of toppings and serve with extra veges if desired.

Cooking tips

 - Use these recipes as a starting point for ideas and inspiration to make it your own. Using what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry and using them first is a great way to make your food go further.

 - If cooking for a larger family or members with a larger appetite, increase the ingredient quantities.

 - Shredded chicken can be substituted for 2 cans (800g) drained and rinsed lentils, or 1 can (400g) drained canned fish. If using canned fish, mix through at the end.