5 winning freezer-friendly meals to cook in bulk

Kinderling News & Features

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Cooking en masse and freezing for the future is a great way to save your time and sanity when you've got hungry mouths to feed.

For tips on becoming a bulk-cooking pro, we asked Emma Braz, mum of three and food editor of Coles, to share her tasty tips.

Dos and don’ts

For starters, Emma suggests using everything in the kitchen to get as many meals cooking as possible at one time: “You’ve got a slow cooker, a stove and an oven, so you can use them at once.”

It's also good to know your freezer-friendly foods, says Emma. “Rice freezes really well and so does pasta,” she explains. “Rice is probably better to freeze rather than leaving in your fridge (because of the nasty bacteria that can develop).” 

However, other foods don't reheat so well. “Potatoes and mushrooms don’t freeze well,” she explains. “Not that you can’t freeze them, they just become a little bit rubbery and not palatable.” 

Listen to Emma on Kinderling Conversation:

How long will food last? 

“Most cooked foods last three to six months. The government has a really good food safety website and it has a list of the keeping times of different foods,” Emma says. “Raw chicken and meats last about six to twelve months, and seafood’s probably the least, which you’d get three to six months in the freezer.” 

Of couse, storing all this food can be an issue so Emma recommends freezing in zip lock bags and sucking out the air with a straw. This saves room in the freezer that Tupperware can take up. 

Emma's five favourite recipes to freeze

Here's Emma's red-hot recipes for reheating and eating:

Winter beef & root vegetable stew  

Serves 6. Prep 15 mins. Cooking 2 hours 25 mins. 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg Coles Australian Beef Chuck Casserole Steak, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 330ml bottle apple cider
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef stock
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 turnip, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, coarsely chopped
  • 150g brown mushrooms, halved
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Coles Bakery Stone Baked Sourdough, to serve 
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Heat half the oil in a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. Season beef and cook, in 2 batches, for 5 mins or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Cook the onion, carrot and celery for 10 mins or until lightly caramelised. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 2 mins. Gradually stir in the apple cider and stock. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Season. Bring to the boil. Cover and bake for 2 hours, adding the turnip, parsnip and mushroom in the last hour of cooking, or until the beef is tender.
  3. Stir through the parsley. Serve the beef stew with the bread. 

Freezing tip: Divide stew into individual portion sizes in snap lock bags. Remove as much air as possible, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months.

Beef & Silverbeet Lasagne 

Serves 4. Prep 15 mins. Cooking 35 mins. 

  • 1 bunch silverbeet, stems discarded, washed
  • 375g Coles Brand Light Smooth Ricotta
  • 1/3 cup (25g) grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 500g Coles Australian 5 Star Extra Lean Beef Mince
  • 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 6 fresh lasagne sheets
  • ½ cup (60g) grated tasty cheese
  • Mixed salad leaves, to serve 

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the silverbeet in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, covered, turning occasionally, for 5 mins or until wilted. Place in a large colander to drain. Set aside for 5 mins or until cool enough to handle. Squeeze as much liquid from the silverbeet as possible. Chop and place in a large bowl. Add the ricotta and parmesan, and stir to combine.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 mins or until onion softens. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up lumps, for 5 mins or until lightly golden. Add the tomato and bring to the boil. Cook for 2 mins or until sauce thickens slightly.

3. Spoon one-third of the beef mixture over the base of an 8-cup (2L) ovenproof dish. Top with one-third of the lasagne sheets, followed by one-third of the ricotta mixture. Continue layering with beef, lasagne sheets and ricotta mixture in two more layers. Sprinkle with tasty cheese.

4. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown and pasta is tender. Set aside for
5 mins before serving with mixed salad. 

FOR THE LITTLE ONES

For bubs: Puree the finished lasagne, using a little water, breast milk or formula to get the right consistency for your baby. Alternatively, combine a bit of the well-cooked beef mixture and ricotta mixture together, making sure there are no stringy bits of silverbeet.

For tots: Serve small portions of the lasagne with steamed carrots and peas. 

Freezing tip: Divide lasagne into individual portion sizes in snap lock bags. Remove as much air as possible, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months. 

Salmon Patties with Lemon Mayonnaise 

Serves 4. Prep 15 mins (+ cooling time). Cooking 30 mins.

  • 4 (about 800g) Crème Royale potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (150g) frozen peas
  • 415g can red salmon, drained, coarsely flaked
  • 1 Coles Brand Australian Free Range Egg, lightly whisked
  • 4 baby gherkins, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbs coarsely chopped dill
  • ½ cup (75g) plain flour
  • 2 Coles Brand Australian Free Range Eggs, extra, lightly whisked
  • 1½ cups (110g) panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbs finely grated lemon rind
  • Vegetable oil, to shallow fry
  • ½ cup (150g) whole-egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • Rocket and shaved fennel salad, to serve 

1. Cook the potato in a large saucepan of boiling water for 15 mins or until tender. Add the peas and cook for a further 1 min or until tender. Drain well. Return potato and peas to the pan and use a potato masher or fork to mash until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Add the salmon, egg, gherkin, caper and half the dill to the potato mixture and gently stir to combine. Divide the mixture into 8 even portions and shape into 6cm-diameter patties.

3. Place the flour and extra egg in separate bowls. Combine breadcrumbs and lemon rind in a separate bowl. Place 1 salmon patty in the flour and turn to lightly coat. Dip in the egg then roll in the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Place on a plate. Repeat with remaining patties.

4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add half the salmon patties and cook for 2-3 mins each side or until golden brown and heated through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining patties.

5. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and remaining dill in a bowl.

6. Divide salmon patties among serving plates. Serve with lemon mayonnaise and a rocket and shaved fennel salad.

FOR THE LITTLE ONES

For bubs: Mix some salmon with mashed potato and peas to desired consistency.

For tots: Omit capers and try log-shaped patties for easy eating and appeal. 

Freezing tip: Freeze uncooked patties, separating them with baking paper. Freeze in snap lock bags, removing as much air as possible, label, date and freeze for up to 2 months. 

Mini Shepherd’s Pies 

Serves 4. Prep 15 mins. Cooking 40 mins. 

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g Coles Australian Lamb Mince
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • ½ cup (125ml) dry red wine, optional (use only for adult serves)
  • 1 cup (250ml) beef stock
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 washed red potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 20g butter
  • ½ cup (125ml) milk
  • 1 cup (120g) grated tasty cheese
  • Baby rocket and Perino tomato salad, to serve 

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until onion softens. Add the lamb and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 mins or until mince changes colour. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 1 min. Add the wine (if only serving to adults), and bring to the boil. Add the stock and Worcestershire sauce and return to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 5 mins or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in the parsley.

2. Meanwhile, cook the potato in a large saucepan of boiling water for 15 mins or until tender. Drain well. Return to the saucepan and add the butter. Use a fork or potato masher to mash until smooth. Add the milk and stir to combine. Add half the cheese and swirl through potato.

3. Spoon the mince mixture evenly among four 1½ cup (375ml) capacity ovenproof dishes. Top with the potato mixture and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 mins or until potato is golden and cheese is melted.

4. Serve with a rocket and tomato salad. 

FOR THE LITTLE ONES

For bubs: Simply puree or mash together the cooked shepherd’s
pies to the desired consistency for your little one.

For tots: Littlies will love digging into these as is. Try serving with soft steamed vegies instead of rocket. 

Freezing tip: Wrap cooled pies in plastic wrap then foil. Label, date and freeze for up to 3 months. 

Little Pork & Apple Meatloaves

Serves 4. Prep 20 mins. Cooking 30 mins. 

  • 500g Coles Australian Pork Mince
  • 1 cup (70g) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 brown onion, coarsely grated
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
  • 1 tbs finely chopped sage
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • ¼ cup (40g) toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Coles Brand Australian Free Range Egg, lightly whisked
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 washed red potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 4 parsnips, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 40g butter, chopped
  • ½ cup (125ml) milk
  • Steamed snow peas and green beans, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine the pork, breadcrumbs, onion, apple, chopped sage, fennel, pine nuts and egg in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper for adults.

2. Grease eight 2/3 cup (160ml) capacity mini loaf pans or Texas muffin pans. Line each pan with a slice of prosciutto, allowing the sides to overhang. Spoon pork mixture among the pans. Top with a sage leaf and fold prosciutto over to enclose filling.

3. Bake for 30 mins or until juices run clear when tested with a skewer.

4. Meanwhile, place the potato and parsnip in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Cook for 15 mins or until tender. Drain well. Return to the pan. Add butter and use a fork or masher to mash until smooth. Add the milk and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper for adults.

5. Divide the mash and meatloaves among plates. Serve with snow peas and beans. 

FOR THE LITTLE ONES

For bubs: Remove the pine nuts and some of the stronger flavours, such as the salty prosciutto. Mash the cooked meatloaves into the potato and parsnip.
For tots: Leave out the pine nuts and prosciutto, and cut meatloaves into slices. For flair, use a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle to pipe mash over the top. 

Freezing tip: Wrap meatloaves in plastic then foil. Place in snap lock bags. Remove as much air as possible, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months.

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