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Do-ahead dinners help you save time while eating well

Published date: 09 October 2012 |
Published by: Reporter
Read more articles by Reporter


Whether you’re a busy Mum or a single woman with a hectic work schedule, we all know the value of planning ahead when it comes to the food we cook. Having the right ingredients in our fridge can make preparing an evening meal so much easier than having to travel to the supermarket at the end of a busy day.
 
Preparing dinner becomes even easier if you have a variety of pre-prepared meals in the freezer. Simply take one out in the morning before you leave for work, and by the home you return home in the evening, it will have defrosted and be ready to heat.
Frozen meals bought from the supermarket are generally unhealthy because they contain a lot of additives and preservatives and the ingredients used are not fresh. But cooking a large portion of a meal at home and freezing some or all of it can save you both time and money in the kitchen.
 
Recipes like stews and casseroles are nourishing, delicious and can be kept in the freezer in individual or family portions for up to a month. A beef casserole prepared with paprika, parsley and a hint of celery is a lean, low-fat option which is nevertheless filling and nourishing on cold, winter evenings. To season the meat well, use a packaged mix of herbs from a specialist spice company such as Schwartz. These can be found in most supermarkets throughout the UK. Serve it with creamy mashed potatoes or with just a side of green vegetables for a lighter option. For a richer flavour, try adding a glass of red wine and replacing the usual green onions with shallots. Remember to allow the casserole to cool before sealing in a clean container for the freezer.
 
If you like beef, try alternating the rich red wine casserole with an herb-rich beef stew which contains garlic, paprika, marjoram, sage, rosemary and thyme. Schwartz has a mix of seasonings for a Beef and Beer Stew recipe which uses a glass of beer instead of red wine to flavour the meat.
 
After all that red meat, by the time Friday rolls around you’ll be ready to try some fish recipes. White fish in particular can seem bland in comparison to beef, but there are a wide range of sauces available in supermarkets nowadays which can jazz up a simple piece of grilled fillet. You can buy a sauce which complements the fish you plan to cook, such as creamy lemon and parsley sauce for pouring over cod, or a tasty dark soy, sesame and ginger sauce, which is low in fat and delicious served over salmon and noodles. 
So start planning your winter menu now, and get those meals in the freezer. You’ll have more time to spend at the gym or just relaxing at home with the latest hit TV series.

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