Five tips for the frazzled cook

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    Get planning

    A meal plan doesn’t need to be rigid, but it’s a big help if you have a rough idea of what you’ll make in the week ahead. Not only does it save you time in the supermarket, but it really does make day-to-day life much easier.

    Freeze in batches

    Get into the habit of doubling recipes and freezing the extra in single portions. If your freezer is always well-stocked, you can rely on “homemade ready meals” at least once a week. This works well with soups, stews, chilli con carne, mashed potatoes, pasta bakes, pies, quiches, tomato sauces, meatballs and homemade bread. This is also great if you have teenaged kids with unpredictable schedules; teach them how to safely defrost and reheat freezer meals and they can feed themselves healthy, home-cooked food whenever necessary.

    Take a break

    If you have one day a week that is always manic, designate it as a cook-free day. This could mean heating up a from-the-freezer meal, grabbing a rotisserie chicken and some baguette on the way home or even just allowing yourself a guilt-free takeaway.

    One cook, two dinners

    Plenty of meal components can be doubled to provide two dinners in the same week. Making a fish pie, for example? Double the Mornay sauce and keep the surplus in the fridge for 2-3 days, then use it to make an easy mac ‘n’ cheese. The trick to resuscitating the chilled sauce is to treat it like a roux: heat it up, stirring, and gradually add extra milk to thin it out. At this stage, you can add extra cheese if desired.

    Low ‘n’ slow

    Invest in a slow cooker. Prep in the morning and leave it to cook on Low while you’re at work. Nothing says convenience like coming home to a hot ready-cooked meal.