Mother and Baby

8 batch cook recipes to pop in the freezer ready for birth

Section: Dinner ideas

Let’s face it: when you’re cradling your new bundle of joy, the last thing you’ll have the energy or inclination to do is cook a healthy dinner from scratch.

So, get ahead of the game with these eight tantalising teas you can make ahead and pop in the freezer – you’ll thank us later!

Each of these delicious meals can be made in advance, placed in the freezer once cooled, then reheated for when you’re craving nutrients and sustenance, but simply don’t have the time.

If you have a big enough pan, ample space in your freezer (or lots of spare time on mat leave!) you could always double the quantities of the following recipes if you’d like to make more portions.

In this article:

Vegan Moussaka 

Mushroom, Squash & Halloumi Stroganoff

Allotment Greens Pasties

Super Simple Chicken Curry

Stuffed Meatballs

Harissa, Chickpea & Tomato Stew

Mushroom, Lentil & Walnut Ragú

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

1) Vegan Moussaka

This is a great dish for batch cooking and freezes well. It also happens to be filled with veggies, so it’s a good way of upping your nutrient intake postpartum.

Makes: 4 portions

Takes: Approximately 1 hr

You’ll need:

  • 1 whole leek, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 aubergine, chopped
  • 2 large baking potatoes, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 500ml plant-based yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. In a large pan on medium heat, add the leek and carrots to some olive oil and cook until soft for approximately 5 minutes.

Add the aubergine, potato, pepper, tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and cook for another 10 minutes.

Once the vegetables have softened, pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Now start to assemble the moussaka. Mix the plant yoghurt with the flour, and salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too thick add water to thin it out.

Take the vegetables out of the oven and pour over the topping mixture - make sure the whole surface is covered.

Heat the grill, pop the moussaka underneath and cook for 10 minutes, or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Recipe taken from Happy Food by Bettina Campolucci Bordi and photography © Nassima Rothacker.

Bettina’s new book, 7 Day Vegan Challenge, will be published 26th December 2019.

2) Mushroom, Squash & Halloumi Stroganoff

“This makes for a hearty, indulgent veggie feast,” explains chef and author Rosie Birkett in her latest cookbook, The Joyful Home Cook – just the thing if you’ve been up all night! Our tip: serve with microwavable bags of rice, which only take a matter of minutes to cook.

Makes: 4 portions

Takes: Approximately 1 hr

You’ll need:

  • 300g wild or black rice
  • 300g acorn, butternut, kabocha or crown prince squash, scrubbed (only peel if skin is really tough), seeds removed and cut into 1.5–2-cm slices
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus an extra drizzle for the squash
  • 30g butter, plus a knob for frying the sage
  • small bunch of sage leaves, plus 2 leaves thinly sliced
  • 250g halloumi, cut into 1-cm slices
  • leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 300g mushrooms, small kept whole, larger roughly sliced
  • glass of white wine
  • 250g sour cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 50g cavolo nero (or purple or green kale), stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Soak the black rice in cold water for a minimum of 30 minutes (and up to 2 hours) before you cook it.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Toss the sliced squash with a drizzle of olive oil – just enough to coat it all over – and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Spread it out on a baking sheet or roasting tray, making sure the slices are well spaced. If you need to, use two trays.

Roast in the oven for 30–35 minutes, until softened and colouring, but not falling apart. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the squash is roasting, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan or skillet over a medium heat, then add the knob of butter and once that’s melted, add the whole sage leaves and fry for no more than 30 seconds until crispy, being careful not to burn them.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper, then season with sea salt flakes.

Add the halloumi to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes on each side, until crispy and golden.

Transfer the halloumi to a plate and set to one side with the sage.

Cook the rice according to packet instructions, fork through and keep warm.

Add the 30g butter and the thyme to the pan, along with the onions, and fry for about 10–15 minutes, until sweet and softened.

Add the garlic, mushrooms and sliced sage leaves and cook for about another 6 minutes, until the mushrooms are coloured and have released their moisture.

Pour in the white wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, then stir in the sour cream and Dijon mustard.

Once it’s bubbling add the cavolo nero leaves, and cook for 3–5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the cavolo nero is cooked, adding a slosh of water if the sauce needs it.

Stir through the roasted squash and halloumi and scatter the crispy sage leaves on top.

Recipe taken from The Joyful Home Cook by Rosie Birkett

3) Allotment Greens Pasties

If you need an on-the-go snack or a lunchtime treat, these are just the thing you’ll want to find in your freezer.

What’s more, they can be made using whichever greens you already have in/are in season. Reheat in the oven for best results.

Makes: 4

Takes: Approximately 1hr 30

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Grated zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
  • 250g mixed greens (e.g. chard, spinach, watercress, kale) and soft herbs (e.g. lovage, parsley, dill, basil, tarragon)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 75g ricotta or cream cheese
  • 100g feta, camembert or mozzarella, diced or roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp pickled green chillies (optional)
  • nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry:

  • 180g light spelt (or plain) flour, and 20g wholegrain rye flour (or 200g spelt or plain flour)
  • 100g ricotta or full-fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 1–3 tbsp iced water

Method:

First, make the pastry. Place the flour(s), ricotta, salt and cumin in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the olive oil and the iced water, a tablespoon at a time, sprinkling it all across the crumb and blitzing between additions until the dough clumps together (you may not need all the water).

Tip the dough out into a bowl and mould it into a ball. Wrap it in greaseproof paper (rather than cling film, which makes it sweat) and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and slide in the onion, garlic and lemon zest with a pinch of salt.

Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened and fragrant but not colouring, then add the greens.

Season with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice, put the lid on and let them wilt down for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the heat and transfer the greens to a sieve to drain, pressing down on the greens to get rid of any excess moisture.

Roughly chop them, then tip into a bowl, add the cheeses and fermented chillies (if using) and toss to combine, grating over a little fresh nutmeg and salt and pepper. Leave to cool.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and divide it into four equal balls, pressing the balls into discs.

Dust the surface with flour and roll each ball out to a circle about 20cm in diameter and just a little thinner than a pound coin.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Fill each circle of pastry with the cooled greens and cheese mix, leaving a 2cm border around the edge of the filling, drizzle over a little more olive oil and fold the pastry around the filling to seal.

It’s up to you how you do this; you can either fold one half of pastry over the filling, seal to the other half and crimp like a pasty, or you can fold the edges up into the middle like an envelope or a little bag.

Once formed, place on the lined baking sheet and chill for about 10 minutes, until firm.

Remove the pies from the fridge and brush them with the beaten egg. Scatter over the za’atar and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Recipe taken from The Joyful Home Cook by Rosie Birkett.

4) Super Simple Chicken Curry

Wonderfully tasty but super quick to put together, this recipe from bestselling authors and food bloggers Pinch of Nom is ideal for batch cooking.

Serve with rice or naan bread, or ladle onto a crispy jacket potato.

Makes: 4 portions

Takes: 35 minutes

You’ll need:

  • low-calorie cooking spray
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 450g chicken breast (skin and visible fat removed), diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400ml water
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Spray a large frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes until softened slightly, then add the diced chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until browned.

Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute, then add all the other ingredients. The water should just about cover the chicken – you may need a little more or less depending on the size of your pan.

Leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Turn the heat up and boil the curry for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan – this will reduce and thicken the sauce slightly.

Serve with your choice of accompaniment.

Recipe take from Pinch of Nom: 100 Slimming, Home-style Recipes by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone. Photos: Mike English.

 

5) Stuffed Meatballs

Quick and easy to prepare, these delicious meatballs are oozing with cheese: just the thing if you’re craving comfort food.

Serves: 4 (3 meatballs each)

Takes: 35 minutes

You'll need:

  • 500g 5%-fat minced beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 70g reduced-fat mozzarella, split into 12 equal pieces

For the sauce:

  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 50g tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Mix all of the meatball ingredients (except the mozzarella and half of the parsley) together in a bowl until well combined, then divide the meatball mixture into twelve equal pieces.

Enclose one piece of mozzarella in each portion of meatball mix. Firmly roll each one into a ball. Place the meatballs on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Put all of the sauce ingredients in a pan, bring to the boil and cook over a low-medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Blitz the sauce with a stick blender, or in a blender or food processor until smooth, season to taste with salt and pepper, then return it to the pan.

Add the baked meatballs to the sauce and stir well. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley.

Recipe taken from Pinch of Nom: 100 Slimming, Home-style Recipes by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone. Photos: Mike English.

6) Harissa, Chickpea & Tomato Stew

This hearty yet vegan stew is filled with warming spices. Serve with yoghurt on the side, and flatbreads if desired.

Makes: 4 portions

Takes: 40 minutes

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved
  • Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks separated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1⁄2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp Belazu Rose Harissa
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Pinch caster sugar
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Method:

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying or sauté pan over a medium heat.

Add the onion, fennel, chopped parsley stalks and a pinch of salt, cover with a lid and sweat gently for 10 minutes, until softened but not coloured.

Uncover, add the garlic and fry for another 3 minutes, stirring, until everything is just starting to turn golden.

Add the paprika and harissa and fry, stirring, for another 2 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes and sugar.

Half-fill the empty can with water and add to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the chickpeas; season and simmer for a final 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with the roughly chopped parsley leaves and reserved fennel fronds.

Recipe from Waitrose & Partners.

7) Mushroom, Lentil & Walnut Ragú

This straightforward Bolognese-style vegan sauce can also be used in a lasagne, with spaghetti, or your favourite type of pasta.

“I first made it when I went up to Edinburgh and filled my friends’ freezer with loads of food after their twins were born,” explains chef and food writer Elly Curshen.

“I made 24 portions and they were eating it for weeks!”

Makes: 12 portions

Takes: Approximately 1hr 30

You’ll need:

  • 40g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 400g button mushrooms, finely diced
  • 125ml red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 680g jar passata
  • 500g green lentils, rinsed
  • 4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp pul biber (mild Turkish chilli flakes or similar)
  • 150g walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
  • 1 small bunch of basil (approx. 20g), leaves roughly torn
  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Start by placing the porcini in a large jug, pour over 1 litre of just-boiled water and leave to one side to soak for 30 minutes.

While the porcini are soaking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the onion, garlic and a pinch of flaked sea salt and cook for 5 minutes until softened but not brown, stirring occasionally.

Add the carrot, smoked paprika and button mushrooms, turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the wine, turn the heat up to high and bring to the boil. Use a spoon or spatula to scrape up all the flavours from the bottom of the pan and stir well. 

Add the bay leaves, tinned tomatoes, passata, lentils, oregano and pul biber. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the soaking porcini mushrooms, roughly chop and add to the pan.

Pour in the porcini soaking water, add a generous pinch of flaked salt and a grind of black pepper and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring deeply and thoroughly every few minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.
Add the walnuts, bouillon powder and 500ml of boiling water. Stir through the torn basil leaves, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Finally, taste, season if needed and remove the bay leaves.

To freeze, divide the ragú evenly between 12 sealable containers or freezer bags and leave to cool completely at room temperature.

Label each portion with the recipe name and the date made, then place in the freezer and use within 3 months.

Defrost in the fridge (it will take approximately 8 hours to defrost), then gently reheat in a saucepan over a medium-low heat until piping hot.

Extracted from Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat by Elly Curshen. 

8) Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

This warming, hearty and comforting cottage pie from HelloFresh is guaranteed to give you the nourishment (and comfort!) you need after a long day.

Makes: 2-4 portions

Takes: 45 mins

You’ll need:

  • 150g chestnut mushrooms
  • 250g sweet potato
  • 450g potato
  • 240g beef mince
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 15g tomato purée
  • 200g tin chopped tomatoes with herbs and garlic or similar
  • 50ml water
  • Knob of butter
  • Splash of milk
  • 2 tsps beef stock powder
  • 40g cheddar cheese

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7 and put a large saucepan of water, with a pinch of salt, on to boil for the potatoes. Chop the mushrooms roughly into 1cm pieces.

Peel and chop both types of potato into roughly 2cm cubes.

Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 mins more. Next, add the beef mince. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Break it up with a wooden spoon and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add both types of potato to your pan of boiling water and cook for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, drain in a colander and return to the pan.

Add a large knob of butter and a splash of milk, along with a pinch of salt and some pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth.

When the beef is browned, add the Worcester sauce and bubble away for a minute or two. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, water, and stock powder.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer to an ovenproof dish, spread the mash on top and grate over the cheddar cheese. Pop on the top shelf of your oven and bake until golden, 15-20 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of HelloFresh.

Written by Kayleigh Rattle

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