I have mentioned several times that this month, in a bid to save money, we are eating out of the freezer. For Mr Simple and I, eating out of the freezer means eating home cooked meals that one of us made extra of last week or last month. As a rule, I tend to use these as we go along, particularly if I am going to be home late or if Mr Simple has to cook, which often happens on a Wednesday now, as I go to my Pilates class. It isn’t that he can’t cook, in fact he is a better cook than I am, but he is reluctant to spend too much time on meal preparation when he’s got a lot of DIY to do.
I find that there are many benefits to eating this way and it takes a lot of the stress out of meal planning and preparation. In particular, the benefits of eating this way are that it is:
Many of the meals that freeze well are made with inexpensive ingredients such as vegetables and beans. We mainly used tinned beans e.g. chick peas, kidneys beans, but you can use dried as well. The dried versions are cheaper, but they take more preparation as you need to soak them overnight and boil them for over an hour. Another frugal ingredient is lentils, which sometimes need soaking, but a lot less than the dried beans. I find pouring on boiling water instead of cold water when soaking speeds up the process. Red split lentils don’t need any soaking at all and are especially good at thickening stews and curries. Particularly as we come in to autumn and winter you can use root vegetables which are very cheap, such as carrots and potatoes.
Easy to make
You don’t need to possess amazing culinary skills to make many of these meals. It just takes a bit of peeling and chopping and opening a tin or a packet. Food such as curry or vegetable stew can be made in one pot and then you do some rice on the side. You can make it even easier and have some crusty bread with it instead. Keeping it simple means that there won’t be a lot of washing up afterwards.
As the meals are heavy on vegetables and beans it’s easy to get in your five a day and they contain high levels of protein. To make it even healthier stick to accompaniments of brown rice, quinoa or mashed sweet potato.
Once you’ve cooked and eaten what you want the rest can go in the freezer. The next time you want to eat it you just have to remember to take your dinner out of the freezer in the morning or the night before. Then you can have your evening meal ready quickly by just heating up your defrosted food and adding a grain or other carb of your choice.
Below are some examples of what we are eating this month, along with where to go for examples of recipes, to give you some ideas if you want to save time and money on what you eat.
Veggie chilli – this is a staple in our household. Usually it is made by Mr Simple as he would say that I am too tame with the chilli and he likes it a bit hotter than I do. We have several of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s books and the recipe comes from one of those, but it is also on his website. Instead of the usual kidney beans he uses pinto beans, but I am sure you can use whatever you have in stock.
Black bean curry – I currently have the ‘Curry Guy Veg’ out of the library and he has a recipe for black-eyed bean curry. I used black beans instead. He doesn’t appear to have a website, but here is a similar recipe for you to try.
Courgette and feta cakes – these are something slightly different as they are a bit fiddly to make, but delicious and they freeze really well. It is a Delia Smith recipe and they are a good way to use up a glut of courgettes.
Veggie burgers – I find that most, if not all, vegetarian burger recipes freeze well. This month I found we had four different types in the freeze rso got them all out and Mr Simple and I had them with polenta chips and a salad.
So there we go, I hope you feel inspired to start filling your freezer with healthy and delicious meals which will save you time and money. After a long day driving to work and back, sometimes in the dark, it is good to come home to something warm and comforting which you haven’t had to spend a lot of time cooking.