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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
6 of the best

6 of the best... make-ahead meals to drop off for a new parent - or anyone who's too tired to cook

Know someone in need of TLC? Here are a few easy options to drop to their door.

BRINGING A HOME-COOKED meal to a friend who needs it might seem like a simple gesture, but it’s something that will be appreciated beyond measure.

Maybe your sibling just had a baby and is too exhausted to cook, or elderly neighbour has fallen ill, or your friend is just having a rough time of it. Whatever the situation, a meal prepared lovingly by a friend can be a lifesaver. 

For this kind of cooking, convenience and freezability is key. Divide the meal out into portions after you’ve cooked it, and pop into plastic containers that can either be frozen for later use or reheated within a few days. One pot meals like casseroles or stews are ideal for reheating, and often taste even better a day or two later when the flavours have had time to settle.

For heartier dinners, pies and bakes are really easy to divide into portions and reheat whenever your recipient is peckish. Got a friend who needs a boost at the moment? Take a little time this weekend to surprise them with one of these comforting, home cooked meals…

1. Lasagne with White Sauce, from One Yummy Mummy:

Nothing is more comforting than a lasagne, and this is one of those dishes that tastes even better when it’s reheated. Sometimes making a white sauce can require a little bit of effort, so One Yummy Mummy has kindly suggested a fuss-free version requiring just two ingredients, if you’re a bit shorter on time. It’s a simple case of bake, cover, and deliver!

2. Traditional Cottage Pie, from Lilly Higgins: 

Filled with tender minced beef and lots of vegetables and herbs, and topped with creamy mashed potato, cottage pie is the ideal meal for anyone in need of something wholesome. If you’re cooking for a vegetarian, you could swap out the beef in place of lentils for a really nutritious, fibre packed meal. This is comfort food at its best, and would be a hit with kids and adults alike.

3. Chicken and Broccoli Bake, from Bumbles of Rice: 

The great thing about this recipe for a chicken and broccoli bake is that it can be served on its own, or with boiled potatoes for something more substantial. With a creamy sauce and tender chicken, this warming recipe is very easy to make. Sweetcorn makes a welcome addition and adds some crunch to this traditional recipe.

shutterstock_53744647 Shutterstock / Stephanie Frey Shutterstock / Stephanie Frey / Stephanie Frey

4. Sausage Casserole, from Jamie Oliver: 

The recipe for sausage casserole calls for Cumberland sausages, but any good quality sausages would work perfectly instead. Mashed potato or colcannon would make a delicious accompaniment to this one pot, so pack some up in separate containers for a full meal that can be reheated in minutes. It’s an ideal winter warmer!

5. Minestrone Soup, from Gourmet Grazing: 

This flavour-packed one-pot soup can be made in just 30 minutes and could be enjoyed for lunch or dinner, or a healthy snack in between. Minestrone soup can easily be adapted according to whatever vegetables you have in the fridge – a bit of chorizo would add a delicious flavour, or kale would add to the texture (although swaying quite a bit from its traditional form!). Deliver the soup with plenty of fresh, crusty bread for a thoroughly wholesome meal. 

6. Thai Yellow Curry, from Wholesome Ireland: 

Curry is so great because you can double or triple the quantities, add in whatever vegetables or meat your friend likes best, and even keep a little portion for yourself, too! Thai yellow curry is quite mild, so it’s great if you’re cooking for a family with younger kids. Deliver this dish with a few microwavable pouches of rice for a delicious meal that’s ready to go. 

More: 6 of the best… soul-warming recipes that make autumn veg the star>

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