Cooking for the freezer.

madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 1,741
I have been cooking for the freezer today and have been using Schwartz or Colmans packet mixes to make casseroles,curries,chili etc.
Looking at the ingredient list and they seem to be basically herbs,spices and thickeners,nothing 'nasty' and nothing that I wouldn't use in anything else.The reason is mostly because they taste good and if I had to make entirely from scratch I would need a plethora of herbs and spices that would be used once in a blue moon.I use fresh meat,vegetables and tinned beans etc,sometimes 'stretching' the meat with more veg.
Most meals also served with fresh veg,rice or potatoes when used.
I can usually get 5 and sometimes 6 meals out of a recipe for 4,so we don't overeat or waste food.
I do make a lot of other meals that don't use packets.
So am I cheating or being sensible?
Thoughts please!!  :)
“Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
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  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,498
    Sensible if you wouldn't use herbs and spices often enough to make it worth buying them separately. But we find the packet mixes a bit on the bland side so I prefer to use the individual packets/jars so I can adjust recipes to our taste.
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 888
    Of course you’re not cheating, just being sensible. If others can do things as well as you but more cheaply or efficiently then you have your answer. This is no more cheating than reading others’ books instead of writing your own, buying plants instead of growing everything from seed, purchasing clothes rather than making your own, watching TV drama not endlessly playing charades. 
  • B3B3 Posts: 10,929
    It's the thickeners that I try to avoid. I suspect they carry on thickening after you eat them. Anyway they don't agree with me. I avoid bottled curry sauces as they taste of vinegar.
    If you like the taste, why not? @madpenguin. It frees up the time to do something even more virtuous than grinding your own spices and milking your cow 😇
    I sometimes cheat with m&s sauces. The long life liquid ones in the pouches. The peppercorn, stroganoff and cheese sauces are particularly good. I know I could make them easily enough, but sometimes I can't be a***d.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 1,741
    Yes,it is a matter of taste really.
    My son has Aspergers and is very fussy with his food and I know he will eat these meals!
    I also adjust ingredients for instance I replace mushrooms,which my son hates,with peppers or adding diced cooked potato.
    I also use microwave rice as there is just enough for the 2 of us and we also have a choice,pilau,plain,egg fried etc.It suits us because doing such small amounts is a faff whereas my sister who has a large family and entertains buys her rice in 5kg bags!
    Also now buy baked beans and tuna in small cans as I found we tended to waste what was left over in larger ones and I hate waste!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • B3B3 Posts: 10,929
    I always cook extra rice and bag it flat in individual portions. Microwave for 3or 4 minutes and it's ready. You have to be really careful to cool it quickly before freezing to avoid toxins.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 888
    You have to be very, very careful with reheated rice. I would not take a risk with that.
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 1,741
    B3 said:
    I always cook extra rice and bag it flat in individual portions. Microwave for 3 or 4 minutes and it's ready. You have to be really careful to cool it quickly before freezing to avoid toxins.
    I did try this once but it seemed to end up as a gooey mess on reheating and also takes up space in the freezer,so will give it a miss in the future!!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 1,741
    So today I have made:-
    Chili con Carne x 5 portions
    Thai Green Curry x 5 portions
    Venezualan Coconut and Lime Curry x 3 portions
    Morrocan Apricot and Coriander Tagine x 5 portions

    Ran out of onions! so tomorrow I shall cook:-
    Chicken in White Wine Sauce x 5 portions
    Somerset Pork Casserole x 5 portions
    Chicken Chasseur x 5 portions
    Lemon Chicken x 5 portions

    I bought 2 x 650g of chicken breasts from Morrisons and can get about 15 meals from that which works out at about 47p per portion so with the other ingredients I can generally do a meal for less than £1 per portion plus a few fresh veg.
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • @madpenguin - you are making sensible choices with packets of sauces etc.  What a lot of people don't realise is that the "thickeners" that are used are a special type of flour that doesn't "split" on reheating.  Ordinary sauces made either by the roux method or with cornflour don't hold up very well after defrosting.  Fine if you can whisk it back to the proper emulsion - but difficult in, say a casserole.

    It is possible to buy a useful sauce flour (which I use a lot of the time).  The brand is Carr's - and it can be added to hot liquids without lumps forming, and it holds up after freezing.


    I have spent the morning making a lot of different dishes for the freezer.  Make one freeze one is the norm - and occasional batch cooking means I have a freezer full of ready meals, home-cooked and tasty, and frozen in portions that suit us rather than over-large portions, which is expensive and wasteful imo.
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 1,741
    Shrinking Violet
    I shall look out for that flour tomorrow!

    I do make a lot of other meals for the freezer from scratch,soups,cottage pie,fish pie etc.A roast chicken goes a looooooooong way from the actual roast right through sandwiches,stir fries to a soup from all the bones,I only ever throw away the bones,I cut up the skin etc and give to the birds.
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
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