Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Meal cascade: a VAT of bolognese!

The idea of a meal cascade is that you cook in massive bulk (cheaper & then you don't have to cook if you don't feel like it) and you don't eat the same thing again and again for months to come. This is the magnificent bolognese's meal cascade:

Some recipes are already linked; I'll post up the recipes / techniques for the other variations as they cycle their way through the kitchen, but here's the portions to freeze for each, and a quickie description for anyone who wants to shoot ahead. The quantities are in litres / mls because that's what tupperware is measured in.
  • Lasagne: 1 litre bolognese for 4 people. Even if you're just one or two people, it's worth making a full lasagne because it takes 45 mins in the oven and you can reheat what's left easily for the next day. (If you're one, don't reheat the whole lot each time!) Add white sauce and lasagne sheets, top with cheese.
  • Chilli con carne: 1 litre bolognese for 4 people. I make the full amount for 2 people (one with a big appetite!) so I have leftovers for tortillas and/or nachos. Add chilli, paprika, and a tin of kidney beans.
    • Tortillas: 2 tablespoons of chilli con carne per tortilla. For 2 tortillas, that's one 250ml tupperware. Add tortilla wraps, shredded lettuce, onion, yoghurt / sour cream, guacamole, cheddar, chilli sauce... Possibly not all at once.
    • Nachos: 250-300ml makes enough for two people. Add corn chips, cheese, sour cream / yoghurt, guacamole if possible.
  • Nachos from scratch: 500-600ml bolognese makes enough for four people; make up the full sauce, and you can use the rest for repeat-nachos or for tortillas.
  • Cottage pie: 1 litre bolognese for 4 people. I use 500 ml for two. Top with the same amount of mashed potato. You can mash it specially (about 2 potatoes, depending on size); when we make excess mash - eg for sausage and mash - I freeze the extra so the cottage pie is really just collating the two.
  • Balti keema: 1 litre bolognese for 4 people or 500ml bolognese for 4 people and pad it out with mushrooms, green beans, peppers, aubergine, any other vegetable you'd see in a curry or 500 ml not padded out if you're surrounding your curry with at least 2 sides as well as rice. It's a bit of a bastardisation to use bolognese instead of doing a proper keema from scratch, but hey, so what. It's your kitchen. Add Balti masala and garam masala, fresh coriander, and any veg you want to pad it with. I'd do 1 litre for 2 people, and use the leftover half for...
    • Curry lentil bake: A bastardisation of a bastardisation! Otherwise known as a variation. You'll add cooked red lentils, grated cheese, and an egg for binding. So the leftover keema that would have fed two will grow again, and you'll have some leftover for lunch / the next supper; it's very good cold as well.
One day, my bolognese, ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS!

Which ones you fancy and which quantities you want to make (and how much you eat) is totally up to you, obviously. This is how I'd usually divvy out the magnificent bolognese for freezing, to feed 2 people. (We have about 3.5 litres of bolognese!)
  • 500ml: spaghetti bolognese, the day / evening I make it (1 meal)
  • 1 litre: lasagne (2 meals)
  • 1 litre: chilli con carne (and this will generate two 250 ml containers for tortillas and nachos) (4 meals)
  • 500 ml: cottage pie (1 meal)
  • 500 ml: Balti keema, which I'll pad if there's veg in the fridge (1-2 meals)
That's about 10 quick and lovely meals - 20 servings - which suddenly puts the bolognese's lovely long cook time into perspective! And of course if you have other meal cascades going on, and other food in the freezer, you're not having Variations on a Mince Theme every night, so it stays lovely.

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