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21 meal prep ideas to make now and enjoy all week

These freezer-friendly batch cooking recipes make the most of your time in the kitchen

‘A little something I prepared earlier’ gets a whole new meaning with batch cooking. These dependable recipes promise to simplify your shopping list, save time in the kitchen and help stretch your ingredients. Buying ingredients in larger quantities to batch cook means there’s always something delicious on hand when you’re tight on time — leftovers can be frozen for later. What’s more? You’ll use up all the ingredients so there are no more half-finished jars floating around. Also, meal prepping doesn’t have to compromise on variety; simply prepare a few recipes and rotate them depending on what you feel like. Try these batch cooking ideas today.

Freezing tips

  • Most dishes can be frozen for up to three months

  • Freeze meals only once they’ve cooled to room temperature
  • Make life easy by freezing meals in separate portions
  • Label anything you freeze with the dish name and date
  • Ensure glass containers used are freezer safe
  • A full freezer saves power so get meal prepping and fill it with your favourite batch-cook recipes for later

Defrosting tips

  • Defrost overnight in the fridge or in the microwave

  • Allow plenty of time for meals to defrost thoroughly before heating

  • Once defrosted, ensure the dish is heated through

  • Consume defrosted meals within 24 hours and avoid re-freezing


Overnight oats with peaches

Whip up these delicious oats the night before to save time come morning. Let the fridge do its thing overnight — the rolled oats get better as they soak. When it’s time for breakfast, simply top up the milk and caramelise your peaches. For a true grab-and-go overnight oats recipe, top with peaches straight from the can. Preparing a few breakfasts worth will keep you feeling peachy all week.

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Blueberry, banana and pepita oat bars

Love muesli bars? You’ll love this healthier take with blueberries, banana, pepitas and oats. They’re so easy to make: mix, bake and enjoy these crunchy parcels fresh out of the oven, or double wrap individual bars and store in an airtight container in the fridge. They work as well for afternoon tea as they do in lunch boxes.

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Quick lentil and spinach stew

There’s lots to love about this vegetarian lentil and spinach stew. As the name suggests, it’s speedy, only uses one pan and contains plant-based protein thanks to the lentils. Since it’s ready in 25 minutes, why not cook a double batch? Cook now and freeze the rest to have a filling dish ready to go when you’re in a pinch. Lentil-based dishes can freeze for up to three months.

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Mushroom bolognese

Mix up the classic bolognese recipe with mushrooms instead of meat for a vegetarian take that tastes divine and freezes well, too. Another bonus? It’s mostly made with pantry staples like onion, tomato sauce and herbs. Simply whip up this easy vegetarian bolognese ahead of a busy week, freeze, then warm up with your choice of pasta when you’re ready to eat - they’ll think you made it today.

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Easy zucchini fritters

Meal prep these crispy zucchini fritters on the weekend to sort lunch, brunch or snack time when you’re in a hurry throughout the week. The secret to making great zucchini fritters is in squeezing out excess liquid. While they’re great served hot off the pan, these golden morsels keep well in the fridge and can be enjoyed cold or easily warmed in a sandwich press. Discover more fritters to try in our recipe collection.

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Pumpkin massaman curry

Cook once and eat multiple times when you whip up this easy pumpkin massaman curry. It’s a veggie-loaded twist on the classic massaman flavours you love and can be frozen for up to three months. Batch cooking your curries is an easy way to get the most out of your weekly budget. Simply heat and serve with fresh fluffy rice, lime and peanuts.

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Easy beef and zucchini lasagne

A pre-prepared tray of delicious beef and zucchini lasagne takes the scramble out of 6pm. Cook a bigger batch on the weekend to spread your effort in the kitchen over multiple dinners and lunches. A twist on classic lasagne, the generous layers of ricotta and zucchini make this a recipe you’re sure to rotate for weeknights to come. Want more layered dishes you can prep ahead? Try this Greek-inspired moussaka recipe.

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Slow cooker chilli

This vegetarian chilli packs a flavour punch, and it’s made mostly with pantry staples to help stretch your budget. Once you’ve cooked your veggie base, simply set and forget — four hours in the slow cooker, and the chilli will be perfectly spiced. How’s that for easy prep? With six serves, this Mexican-inspired recipe keeps on giving. Freeze any leftovers for up to three months; dinner will be as easy as defrosting and reheating.

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Creamy chicken and pea pasta bake

Pasta bake has to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. Batch cook this creamy chicken and pea bake this Sunday to get ahead of the week before it starts. Having a delicious meal on hand makes this 30-minute recipe all the more worth your while. With a baked parmesan top and a fresh side salad, this pasta bake will get your family’s tick of approval.

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One-pan turmeric and ginger chicken

Cue: a sigh of relief. Dinner is done in three steps, 30 minutes and one pan. You’ll spend less time and money on multiple weeknight dinners when you meal prep this fragrant turmeric ginger and chicken curry. Simply freeze and just reheat on those nights when you’re in a hurry. Not a fan of turmeric? Try this healthier chicken curry recipe.

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Healthier zucchini slice

Add this healthier zucchini slice to your weekly rotation for a seriously simple, affordable and nutritionally approved meal. Have a slice for lunch or dinner. You’re the boss! The slice uses minimal ingredients like zucchini and corn kernels that you likely have on hand. Best of all, it’s a freezer-friendly recipe, so a tray of these readily available means you won’t think twice about what to plate up for weeknight meals. Just add a leafy salad and you’re good to go.

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Classic quiche lorraine

Make a cafe-style lunch affordable every day with quiche lorraine. Filled with bacon, onion, eggs and tasty cheese, this classic recipe is easy to make and the ingredients are budget-friendly. Quiche freezes well, so portion your slices and defrost in the fridge overnight as needed. Enjoy chilled or simply heat, and add a fresh salad.

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Cheesy turkey enchiladas

Mince is one of the most versatile protein sources. For a freezer-friendly meal that’s both homemade and delicious, it has to be these cheesy turkey enchiladas. Meal prep a tray or two, and freeze to make the most of your time in the kitchen. That way you can pull together dinner with a click of your fingers (ok, almost). Don’t forget to serve with a dollop of fresh sour cream.

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15-minute Mexican burrito bowl

Busy week ahead? File this Mexican-inspired burrito bowl under time-saving dinners. In just 15 minutes and two steps, this recipe is as speedy as it is satisfying. Better yet, you can batch cook the spiced mince and rice mixture, and spread your effort throughout the week. This speedy bowl is bound to be a winner.

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Healthier baked porcupine meatballs

Make the most of your time in the kitchen with a double batch of healthier baked meatballs. The porcupine element comes from the rice which cooks in the tomato passata, all at once in one tray. Meatballs freeze well for up to three months or alternatively, leftovers make great additions to pasta, zoodles and mash. Plus, the kids will love getting involved in shaping their own meatballs. After all, food tastes better when you help make it.

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Creamy chicken and bacon pasta


Creamy chicken and bacon pasta

Here’s a recipe I’ll happily double to freeze, because it’s just as delicious when it’s reheated. It’s also friendly on the budget. I always keep an eye out for specials in the pasta aisle, and have a variety of shapes and sizes ready to go in the pantry. If you don’t have rigatoni, any short pasta – such as penne or farfelle – will work just as well.

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Freezer-friendly chilli con carne


Freezer-friendly chilli con carne

Double up the quantities for this recipe, because it’s sure to be on high rotation as a midweek (or weekend) dinner. This warm and spicy chilli con carne is affordable and any leftovers are perfect for nachos night, if you feel like mixing things up. I sometimes swap out the black beans for red kidney beans and chop up any leftover coriander to stir through the mixture before I freeze it.

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Healthier Pumpkin and Ricotta Pasta Bake


Healthier baked ricotta and pumpkin pasta

This super-tasty, nutritionally approved vegetarian pasta bake is comfort food at its best, with a gentle chilli hit adding just the right level of heat to the sweet pumpkin. It’s also very easy on the weekly food bill. On the off-chance you have leftovers – not likely at my place! – just transfer them to an airtight container and freeze. Or do as I do and make double the quantity to freeze for another time, leaving out the rocket and parmesan.

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Chickpea curry


Freezer-friendly chickpea curry

Canned chickpeas (and other pulses) make an ideal base for a wide variety of vegetarian dishes and are very easy on the budget. This warming veggie curry is a great one to double up and freeze for another meal. I like to keep a stock of curry pastes and seasonings, as they add an instant flavour boost to all kinds of recipes.

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Cheat's Bbq Pork & Kimchi Fried Rice


Cheat’s barbecue pork and kimchi fried rice

When I’m cooking rice, I’ll often make double quantities and freeze the leftovers for another meal. Just make sure you refrigerate any leftover cooked rice in an airtight container as soon as it’s cooled a little, then freeze it once it’s chilled through. Otherwise, I’ll use a packet of microwave rice instead – it’s such a handy staple to keep for a quick stir-fry like this, or to serve with a curry. This recipe freezes well and any leftover kimchi can be put to good use and dolloped on anything and everything: salads, sandwiches, toasties, hot dogs and burgers.

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Quick Sausage & Pesto Pasta


Quick sausage and pesto pasta

This must be one of the simplest, most satisfying midweek meals for a winter’s night, and takes just 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s also great value and will freeze beautifully (just leave out the parmesan and basil). If you have a little extra time, you can remove the sausage meat from its casing before roughly chopping, but it’s not necessary. Don’t have spiral pasta? Any short pasta – penne, rigatoni or even farfelle – works.

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