Batch cooking meals, easy-to-prep lunches and the best sweet treats
If you haven’t already worked it out by my daily updates to Instagram Stories on what I’ve cooked that day, I really, really love cooking. I put on an episode of The Office, stick in my headphones and have a great time. It’s genuinely my happy place and to be quite frank I don’t care what I’m cooking, I just care that I’m doing something that’s soothing and takes my mind off things, the fact that the end result sometimes tastes good is a mere consolation prize. So I thought I’d make a master index of all the recipes that I’ve cooked recently that I’d recommend; recipes that make cracking lunches, delicious dinners and bakes that are sometimes dessert and sometimes just ‘oh my word it’s 10:30am and I’m HUNGRY’ snacks. I’ve left breakfast out of the mix because we just tend to throw together some yoghurt, fruit and granola, but for the rest of the day? Well, here’s what I’d suggest…
Avocado Kale Caesar Salad & Sweet Potato Fries from Pinch of Yum. On the surface this recipe really isn’t a bit of Mark, but he surprisingly loves it. A tangy salad that actually makes kale taste good (I prepare it before by removing tough stems and giving it a massage to break it down a bit). It also provides a brilliant base for other things you may wish to add like chicken, tofu, or any other leftover veggies you have hanging around (roasted butternut squash or crispy chickpeas are a tried and tested solid addition). Although it seems like a faff to cook up the sweet potato fries each time – do it – it makes the whole dish way more exciting.
Roasted Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup by BBC Good Food. The ingredient list for this is so darn simple that it just shouldn’t taste as good as it does, but it’s delicious. Creamy and sweet and packed full of vegetables, we found this recipe was a great one to use up a load of sweet potatoes that we had hanging around. Filling enough to eat on it’s own, but extra good with some butter slathered bread on the side.
Help-Yourself Grain Fridge Salad by BBC Good Food. It’s so rare that you’re able to make up salads in advance without them getting slimy by the time you come to eat them, but because this lacks any kind of leaves it lasts up to three days in the fridge. It’s not the cheapest salad to put together but it’s one where you could easily sub out things that you didn’t have or couldn’t find and you could add leaves in at the last minute if you had some hanging around. It’s really filling and again gets the seal of approval from Mark.
Toast with Grilled Cheese, Apple & Mustard. Now there’s no official recipe for this one because it’s as easy as toasting your slices of bread on one side on the grill, then grating some cheese and apple (at about a 50:50 ratio), with a dollop of wholegrain mustard and adding that onto the un-toasted side before sliding it back into the grill. The *perfect* comfort food lunch.
Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut & Turmeric by Alison Roman. Oh yes, this is ‘THE STEW’ which you might have seen other people talk about it, but I’ve tired and tested it myself and it’s pretty darn wonderful. I would perhaps use a little more stock than coconut milk and a little less olive oil than the recipe suggests because it is pretty rich, but it’s packed with flavour and makes great leftovers the next day too.
Crumbled-Topped Sweet Leek Leftovers Pie by Anna Jones. This is such a good recipe right now because even Anna herself doesn’t say what vegetables to use in it. If you have leftover cooked ones then that’s great – just throw them in – but if not there is going to be a bit of prep involved in getting ready to put this one together. We usually use a mix of red onions, sweet potato and carrots for the root veg and swiss chard for the green veg. Oh and it’s massive. The crumble lasts us days in our house.
Leek Carbonara with Garlic Crumb Topping by The Mother Cooker. Sometimes I just like to make a dish that’s simple, quick and just good for that night. You know a recipe that’s really fresh and feels like you’d get served it in a restaurant? Well this dish is exactly that for us, and is one to put top of your list if you’ve managed to get your hands on spaghetti. The prosciutto isn’t a must (we try to eat veggie as much as we can in the house), but it does taste really good if you have it to hand.
Butternut Squash & Sage Macaroni Cheese by BBC Good Food. We cooked this as part of last week’s ‘What I Eat In A Day’ video if you want to see a step-by-step in action, but it’s a simple one to put together and it’s our favourite macaroni cheese recipe of them all. Sweet potato would definitely work if you haven’t got butternut squash and feel free to hide other vegetables in it if you have stuff to use up. We make the recipe as per the instructions and it gave us eight dinner-size portions! It lasted us four days!
Dhal With Crispy Sweet Potato by Anna Jones. Dhal has become a staple in our house. It’s really cheap to get the ingredients together and again it’s one of those recipes were the ingredient looks too short for it to taste so good. Don’t scrimp on the spices as those are the magic ingredients here. Another great one to freeze, we pop this into reusable bags in the freezer and then just defrost them as we need; adding crispy sweet potatoes on top each time.
Cherry Biscuit Cobbler Recipe by Bon Appétit. Growing up we had a fruit crumble every other weekend and it’s a tough call as to whether a crumble topping or a cobbler topping is my favourite, but I think cobbler pips it to the post due to the fact that’s basically like a super fluffy pasty (and pastry is one of my favourite food groups). This is a fun one to assemble and a good show-stopping piece to crack out once we’re all allowed to have dinner parties again.
Parisian Flan by Ricardo. After speaking about this online I’m pleased to discover that this guy is basically like the French Canadian version of Jamie Oliver – the more you know, eh? This is what we’d call a gigantic egg custard tart and it’s perhaps one of the best things I’ve ever baked. I’d always been too scared to cook custard from scratch before because I was convinced that I’d make scrambled egg, but now is the time. Mark asks daily when I’m going to make one again.
Lemon Pound Cake by Bon Appétit. I love a simple recipe and this is about as easy as they come when it comes to baking. Basically put everything in a bowl, mix it, bake it and then pop a topping on it (if you fancy!). Love that the recipe on B.A has instructional videos for each step too so you can check that everything is looking as it should be. If you have general baking supplies in your cupboard, along with a couple of lemons then you’ve already got everything you need.
Mint Chocolate Energy Balls by Belly Mind Soul. These are more of a healthy snack for me, rather than a dessert but as someone who possesses a sweet tooth I do like to have a box of these in the fridge ready to roll when I need a sugar fix. These are the best ‘at-home nakd bar’ recipe I’ve found. I just up the date content to make them super fudgey and used double the cocoa and peppermint to oomph up the mint chocolate flavour.
10 THINGS THAT ARE GOOD TO HAVE TO HAND
Whilst the rest of the world panic buys toilet roll and chopped tomatoes, here are 10 things that you should be able to find in stock pretty easily that are handy to have around:
Lemons – not only are they good to add zing to savoury dishes but any excuse to make a lemon drizzle cake, eh? // Vacuum-Packed Grains – I love the mixed grain pouches that you can reheat and have as a side with a dinner, but also use in grain-based salads too // Sweet Potatoes – we make them nice and crispy to eat with dhals or put on the top of soups // Herbs & Spices – I am weirdly obsessed with our spices cupboard, but if you can equip yourself with salt, pepper, olive oil, cumin, paprika, chilli powder and some kind of dried herb then you can make anything taste incredible // Greek Yoghurt – we have it for our breakfast every morning, but you can also use it to cool down anything that’s got too spicy and use it as a sub in some baking recipes too // Frozen Peas – so many of our dinners can be a little lacking in greens, so I like to heat up some to have on the side (side note: smashed peas on toast makes a great alternative to avocados!) // Bread – stick it in the freezer and just take out slices as you need them either leaving them to defrost in the fridge or sticking them straight into the toaster // Parmesan Cheese – we make so many things that have parmesan cheese in them that I do like to have a block to hand because it lasts for ages anyway, reuse the rinds after in stock // Veggie Stock Cubes – although the fresh stuff is the best, we use veggie stock cubes in so many dishes that we make, especially soups, so we always make sure we have a few to hand // Apples – obviously you can just eat apples on their own but when they start to turn stick them into a crumble, or cake or cobbler, or turn them into a sauce that can act as a sweetener, vegan egg substitute or just sauce to have on your breakfast.
Photos by Mark Newton