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Kitchen Secrets: Readers dish on their favourite make ahead meals

We asked readers for recipes that freeze and please.

Image: Shutterstock/Timolina

EVERY HOME COOK has their own kitchen hacks, cheats and traditions, and we want to know yours.

Each week as part of our Kitchen Secrets series, we ask readers to share their cooking tips and go-to-food and drink ideas. From the secret to quick-and-easy dinners, to the best way to scramble an egg, we set a new question every seven days.

This week, we asked cooks at home to weigh in on make-ahead meals that freeze up well. Whether you’re batch cooking dinners for the week ahead or delivering a meal to new parents or a sick relative, it’s great to have a set of tried and tested recipes that taste as delicious reheated as they do fresh out of the oven. 

Next week, we’ll be asking for your tricks for making the perfect baked potato – and we’d love to hear yours. Email us on food@thejournal.ie – and you could see your response in the magazine!

What’s your favourite make-ahead meal?

One of my best make-ahead meals is lamb tagine, slow cooked and moist, it almost improves in flavour in the freezer. I simply add the olives and chickpeas before I serve.

I love making a lasagne with a layer of pesto roasted veg in the middle. It slices and freezes really well. I’ve shared my step-by-step process in my Instagram stories.  

- Fiona Staunton

My favourite freezer recipe is Big Batch Beef, which is basically a beef mince recipe that can be transformed in a myriad of different dishes. Start by frying four pounds of minced beef in a hot pan. Don’t break it up too much at this stage as you want a good colour on the meat. Remove the meat and add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and sweat these for a few minutes and return the mince to the pan. Add good beef stock and herbs and simmer for an hour. This is your basic sauce. Divide into four resealable bags, and flatten (this will speed up the defrosting process).

Now comes the interesting bit. For chilli con carne, defrost and add tinned tomatoes, chilli powder, red kidney beans, chopped jalapeno peppers (not too many) and coriander. For bolognese, add tinned tomatoes, chopped basil, tomato puree and finely chopped fried bacon. For cottage pie, add fried mushrooms or any extra veg and thicken with a little cornflour, top with mashed potatoes and grated  cheese. Curry paste and diced roasted aubergine, tinned tomatoes, grated ginger and chopped coriander makes a terrific keema curry. All these recipes can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes, just remember to take a batch out the night before and leave in the fridge overnight. By the time you return in the evening the meat will be defrosted and ready for action.

- Angie Nolan

Shepherd’s or cottage pie is a favourite here, cooked in an oven-safe or foil dish, it’s perfect for the freezer! Make enough ingredients for two, cook both (one without cheese topping) and eat the cheesy topped one. Then cool the second and cover with tin foil before freezing.

When required, remove from the freezer for an hour before placing in a 170C heat oven to cook. Remove after 45 minutes, add cheese topping, return to oven and cook until the cheese is browned. Simple!

- Ross Boxshall

More Kitchen Secrets: Readers share their favourite omelette combinations>

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