My top ten make ahead meals

Some people like to cook from scratch every day.  Personally, I don’t enjoy cooking every day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to be in the kitchen, but not all the time and after a long day at work, Nigel and I are sometimes too tired to cook, so here are some of my favourite easy make ahead meals.

Vegetarian Lasagne

I like to have a vegetarian lasagne in the freezer for those days family and friends descend unexpectedly for dinner. Here is my version:


1 onion, chopped                                                                  1 garlic clove crushed

½ butternut squash chopped into bite-sized chunks    100ml béchamel sauce

2 Leeks, finely chopped                                                     250g spinach (fresh or frozen works)

250g Ricotta Cheese                                                             1 tbsp Turmeric

1 tbsp sunflower oil                                                             100g mature cheddar cheese, grated


Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and gently cook the butternut squash on a low heat for about 10 minutes or until it starts to go soft.     Add the leeks, onion, garlic and turmeric and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook down further until wilted.

Layer the mixture between lasagne sheets, starting with a layer of the mixture.  Finish with a lasagne sheet, smooth on the bechemal sauce and finally the cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 25 minutes.


Being vegetarian with a very much carnivorous husband and family, we often end up cooking two meals, which isn’t too much hassle, but means I am always experimenting to find out what works with a direct vegetable or meat substitution.  This recipe works for me to make a beef chilli and a vegetarian chilli and each will serve 4 people.


2 tbsp olive oil                                                                   500g quorn mince

500g beef mince                                                               2 cans kidney beans drained

2 tbsp cumin                                                                      2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp paprika                                                                   2 onions, chopped

2 celery sticks                                                                    2 carrots, diced

2 peppers, diced                                                                2 leeks, sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped                                       800g tinned plum tomatoes

4 Jacket potatoes


Heat 1tsbp oil in a pan and saute the onions until softened and translucent.  Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and cook until softened.  Put the vegetables aside in another bowl for later.  Heat the other tsbp of oil in a new pan and brown the quorn mince. Add the beef mince to the already hot pan and brown – this should take about 3 minutes, then drain off the excess water.  Sprinkle over half the paprika, cumin and cinnamon to each pan and add the garlic.

Add in half the tin tomatoes to each pan and break up with a wooden spoon. Fill up the empty cans with water and ass another can to each pan.  Divide the heated vegetables between both pans and leave to simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the drained kidney beans to each pan and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the sauce is nice and thick.  If you want it thicker, add 1 tbsp cornflour to a little water, mix and add to the chilli.

Season and leave to stand for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to intensify.  I like to eat my chilli with jacket potatoes and sour cream, but serve it with whatever you like; rice, tortillas, guacamole, chilli is so versatile.  Leave the remainders to cool and put into plastic containers and can be frozen.

Vegetable soup

 This is so easy – chop all the vegetables, cook, blend if you want to and you’re done!  This can be made in advance, frozen if you want to or just whipped up quickly for a healthy dinner.


1 tsp coconut oil                                                                     1 tsp turmeric

2 carrots, chopped chunkily                                                1 onion

1 cauliflower head cut into florets                                    1 can plum tomatoes

1 sprig rosemary chopped                                                  1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic crushed                                                         500 ml vegetarian stock

1 potato chopped                                                                 Bulgur wheat


Heat the oil and fry the onions, carrots, onion, rosemary, turmeric and garlic over a medium heat until soft, then add the rest of the ingredients and gently simmer until everything is cooked.

Blend if you want to for a smooth soup – I like mine chunky though, and serve with some nice and chunky sourdough bread.

Grated courgette and tuna fritters


2 courgettes grated                                                                  1 carrot grated

2 tins of tuna                                                                             1 spring onion, chopped

Plain flour                                                                                 1 egg beaten

Breadcrumbs                                                                           1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper                                                                       2 tsp smoked paprika


Mix together the grated courgette, carrot, spring onion, tuna, paprika and season with salt and pepper.

Leave the mixture to settle for 30 minutes in a sieve above a bowl to let some of the water drain out.

In three shallow dishes, put in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs separately into each one.  Mould into 6 small patties with your hands.  Dip each pattie first in the flour, ensuring every surface is covered, then the eggs, then the breadcrumbs.  Shallow fry each pattie in a frying pan in the pre heated olive oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.

These can be frozen after having made them into small round patties.  When you are ready to eat them, defrost in the fridge and coat with the flour egg and breadcrumbs and fry.

I like to always have something in the freezer for those days when cooking seems like to mammoth a task to consider.  These fritters are the perfect home-cooked ready-meal

Smoked sausage casserole

Fish Pie

Carrot and Lentil Soup

Beef Bourguignon

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