When I first started meal planning, I found it a bit daunting – the idea of cooking something from scratch every night was a bit much for me and I was sure my limited recipe repertoire would meant we’d be eating macaroni cheese at least 5 nights a week. But then I discovered the magic of making double whenever I made something and freezing some for next time. Right now, crammed into my freezer, I have a big lasagne, a fish pie, a cottage pie and lots of single portions of meal leftovers (all home made) so that I can make a quick and easy tea when I get in from work. I really could do with two fridge freezers so I could store more as I’m finding loads of reduced bargains at the shops that I can’t buy as I have no more space for them.
I also have about three portions of my favourite meal planning recipe – Magic Mince (named because it really is magic lol). I love Magic Mince because from one basic recipe you can make bolognaise, chilli, lasagne, cottage pie, pasta bakes along with numerous other meals.
The basic recipie is:
1kg Lean minced beef
2 rashers of bacon
2 onions (I prefer the frozen ready chopped stuff)
2 Garlic cloves
600 ml beef stock
A large glug of red wine (optional)
A teaspoon of thyme (fresh or dried)
Fry together the chopped up bacon, onions and garlic until the bacon is cooked and the onions are soft. Then remove them from the pan and brown the mince for about ten minutes. Add the bacon mix back to the pan with the stock and the optional red wine and simmer for 30 minutes until the mince is cooked through and the sauce has reduced down a bit.
Or, you could just bung it all in the slow cooker for the day 😉
If you’re cooking it for younger children, a tip I got from Annabel Karmel was to blend the mince mixture with a hand blender to make it more toddler friendly and also to add some tomato sauce to the mixture. Master Frugal used to love this when he was younger – shame he won’t go near it now!
I tend to make a huuuge batch and freeze in family meal sized portions, I get it out the night before I need it and then when I come in from work it’s all defrosted and I just have to add the finishing touches:
To turn it into Bolognaise – Heat through with some chopped tomatoes and some basil.
To make chilli – Heat through with some chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, chilli (fresh or powder) and some cumin. We actually use baked beans for this instead of kidney beans.
To make into cottage pie – Add some chopped mushrooms and a tablespoon full of plain flour and heat through. Tip into an oven proof dish and top with mashed potato. Heat in the oven for 15 minutes until the mash is golden brown on top.
To turn into lasagne – layer the bolognaise mixture with lasagne and white sauce and top with grated cheese. Heat in the oven until the cheese is all bubbly and nice.
I’m sure there must be loads of other meals I can make with it – Any ideas?
(Because I don’t have a photo of my Magic Mince, I thought I’d show you Miss Frugal enjoying her first ever Fish Finger sandwich ;-))