Mama Lauren Reviews Once-A-Week Cooking Plan: Oven Baked Meals…with her Thermomix!
“Okay, so I generally feel that I am a pretty organised person. I ‘meal plan’, keep a list of what’s in my chest freezer and make lunches the night before. I’ve got the bases covered!
…But then it’s 4:45 pm, I’ve finished work, picked up child number one from childcare and child number two from Out Of School Hours Care. They are over it, I’m over it and I can’t really be bothered making the crumbed chicken pieces with roast potatoes and salad that I had planned. I just want to pull something from the freezer, whack it in the oven and walk away. Or even pull it out of the freezer in the morning and do some re-heating at witching hour!
Enter the idea of the Once-A-Week cook!
I have entertained the idea of doing this many MANY times before but it has always resulted in a hotch-potch attempt that sulks at the bottom of the freezer for the next eternity. When I was chosen to give it a go and write a review I was excited and relished in reading the recipes, checking the freezer for meat and writing a shopping list (sad I know, but I really do LOVE this type of thing!!).
I chose the Oven Meals plan as these were dishes that everyone in my family would eat and could be adapted to hot or cold weather with the addition of a side salad or veggies.
The dishes were:
- Chicken enchiladas
- Beef pie
- Chicken Tagine
- Asian salmon (but I did pork as my lot don’t eat salmon or much fish)
- Cheese and broccoli cannelloni
- Shepherd’s pie
I set aside a Sunday morning, put on a kids movie and made a rather large coffee.
I diced/cut all the meat and put them into bowls ready to go. For me, prepping everything first was the easiest option and I felt that it made the cooking aspect run smoothly.
I have a Thermomix so decided to use it to help make a few things quicker and save having to watch another pot. I chopped carrots, celery, garlic and onion in a matter of seconds which was really helpful.
I also cooked the meat sauce for the lasagna in the Thermomix while the Shepherd’s Pie filling cooked and then made the Beef Pie mix. I cooked that on the stove as my slow cooker is enormous and I needed all the bench space I could get.
Assembling the Lasagna and Shepherd’s Pie was easy and they went into the oven. I decided to freeze the pie mix and pastry separately as I will make individual pies using my pie maker on the day (*edit- have done so and it was great! I got the pastry and filling out that morning and my five year old helped roll pastry and I made the pies. Although it took a little while it was certainly easier than preparing a whole meal from scratch!!)
The Enchiladas were easy from start to finish as was the marinade for the pork. Lastly, I cooked the Tagine and the Cannelloni. Both smelt amazing and were lucky to even make it to the freezer. I used a large snap lock bag to pipe the cannelloni which worked a treat- and no cleaning up!!
From start to finish (including cleaning up, tending to children and a snack break) it took around 3 hours, and totally worth every second.
I now have delicious meals in the freezer ready to go for the days both my husband and I work and the Witching Hour is upon us as we walk in the door. I even used foil trays so I don’t have to wash up much afterwards!
The starting instructions are pretty easy to follow (I found it easier to print out and have in front of me, instead of using the iPad) and I loved the shopping list. I crossed off what I already had and then could easily make a list for the supermarket.
I also really liked that the recipes seemed adaptable depending on what you had in the fridge, pantry or freezer and/or what your family enjoys. The recipes were easy, with not too many steps and for us, and were big enough to provide lunch for the husband and I the next day (big winner there!!)
We didn’t have a meal every night for the week as I only work part-time and quite enjoy cooking most days, however we have had 2-3 each week and they have been a life saver. Dinner is cooked in about 30ish minutes and there was NO stress. Some nights I went all out and added a fancy salad or veggie dish as I have the time, other nights it’s raw carrot and chopped tomato on the side (once it was frozen peas and corn- but my kids love them so maybe it doesn’t count!!)
Ultimately, I will endeavour to do a Once-A-Week-Cooking every fortnight and then during busy times in the school year (husband and I are both teachers) I think I will do it weekly. Best thing is that there are options and you can adapt them to how your family eats and lives.
Thanks MamaBake for giving me the chance to try it out- my freezer is full and my heart is pretty dam happy! More time with the kids and (probably quite importantly) a less cranky Mama!
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