Cook six meals for a family of four in ONE night with the Batch Lady's delicious recipe plan

BUSY week ahead? Then give yourself not one, but three nights off with these simple meal hacks from Suzanne Mulholland, AKA The Batch Lady.

Each recipe serves four, and by doubling up you’ll end up with three meals to pop in the fridge for the week ahead, and three to stick in the freezer for up to three months.

To be efficient with your time, you’ll be jumping in and out of each recipe.

But don’t panic, it is all laid out for you – simply follow the numbered steps and you can’t go wrong

1. Shop it

Chinese pork belly:

  • 2kg pork belly strips
  • 2L chicken stock
  • 6tsp chopped frozen garlic

For the sauce:

  • 2tsp chopped frozen chilli
  • 2tsp lemongrass paste
  • 4tbsp runny honey
  • 4tbsp brown sugar
  • 8tbsp soy sauce

Chicken and bacon plait:

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, diced
  • 200g bacon lardons
  • 230g frozen chopped onions
  • 4tbsp pesto
  • 10 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 200g crème fraiche
  • 2 sheets pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Veggie stew:

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 230g frozen chopped onions
  • 2tsp frozen chopped garlic
  • 2 large aubergines, chopped into chunks
  • 700g frozen sweet potato chunks
  • 700g frozen diced peppers
  • 4 x 500g cartons passata
  • 4tsp oregano
  • 2tbsp tomato purée

2. Batch it

Chinese pork belly:

1.Add the pork belly, stock and garlic to a large deep-sided, lidded pan. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, pop the lid on and leave to cook for 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, mix the sauce ingredients together and divide between two small freezer bags, then seal.

3. Tidy up, leave the pork to cook and move on to your Chicken & Bacon Plait.

Chicken and bacon plait:

4. In a large, deep-sided frying pan add the oil, diced chicken, bacon lardons and onions. Cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and browned.

5. While you wait on this, the next recipe only takes 5 minutes to prep, so let’s get on with that.

Veggie stew:

6. Add the oil to a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft.

7. Add the aubergine, sweet potato, peppers, passata, oregano and tomato purée, then season with salt and pepper and stir. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring, until all the veggies are soft. Add a splash of water if the stew is a bit thick.

8. While this is simmering, finish your plaits.

Chicken and bacon plait continued:

8. Once the chicken is cooked, take off the heat, drain off any excess liquid and add the pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and crème fraiche. Season and leave to cool.

9. Meanwhile, roll out the 2 sheets of pastry, keeping greaseproof paper underneath. Leave a 3in gap down the middle of each sheet for your filling and use a sharp knife to make diagonal cuts every 3/4in along the length of the pastry on both sides. Repeat for both sheets of pastry.

10. Once the filling has cooled, spoon it evenly along the middle of the pastry. Tuck the top and bottom of the pastry up to secure the filling in each plait.

11. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg, then start bringing the pastry strands into the centre, alternating sides so they overlap like a plait. Repeat for the second pastry plait.

12. Once you’ve done both plaits, bring up the sides of the greaseproof paper underneath and wrap in cling film. Place one plait in the fridge for the week ahead and one into the freezer.

Veggie stew continued:

14. Your stew should now be ready to remove from the heat. Leave it to cool and get ready to bag up the rest of your meals. Once cool, divide the stew into two large date-labelled freezer bags, seal and flatten.Place one in the fridge and one in the freezer.

Chinese pork belly continued:

15. By now you will have four meals in the fridge and freezer. You may have to wait on your pork to finish cooking, so why not be super-efficient and take the opportunity to tidy up the kitchen?

16. Once your pork is cooked, leave it to cool before placing in two large labelled freezer bags, discarding the stock. Place your smaller bags of sauce ingredients inside each freezer bag with the pork, and seal once cooled. Place one in the fridge and one in the freezer. 

17. You should now have three meals in the fridge and three in the freezer!

3. Eat it

Chinese pork belly:

From the fridge: Preheat your oven to 190°C/170°C/gas mark 5. Take the freezer bag of pork and sauce out of the fridge. Cook the pork in an ovenproof frying pan on medium heat with a little oil for 6-8 minutes so it crisps up. Once cooked, pour off excess fat. Coat in the sauce and cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes until sticky and glazed. This dish is great in bao buns with coriander, spring onion and chilli, or try noodles or rice.

From the freezer: Defrost the bags in the fridge overnight and follow cooking instructions above.

Chicken and bacon plait:

From the fridge: Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Remove the cling film. Slide the greaseproof paper and plait on to a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, covering the top with foil if the pastry starts to catch.

From the freezer: Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Unwrap as above and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Veggie stew:

From the fridge: Pour the stew into a saucepan on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until piping hot, stirring occasionally. This tastes great in a bowl with couscous, a dollop of yoghurt and a squeeze of fresh lime.

From the freezer: Defrost the stew in the fridge overnight and follow cooking instructions above. 

  • The Batch Lady: Healthy Family Favourites (£20, HQ) is out now
  • Compiled by: Kirsty Spence  
  • Food styling: Maud Eden  
  • Prop styling: Kirsty Spence  

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