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Colman's cook once eat twice challenge feedback thread. Non-testers: share your top tips for bulk cooking. £150 voucher up for grabs. NOW CLOSED

(120 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Sep-13 11:25:00

This thread is for the 20 Mumsnetters who are taking part in the Colman's cook once eat twice challenge.

Here's what Colman's say: "Wasting food costs families up and down the country money and has an impact on the environment too. As many of you already know, bulk cooking is a simple way to reduce this, as it can help with meal planning and provides a solution for those mealtimes when you just don't have the time or inspiration to cook. So join us in making your family's favourite dishes go further and save yourself time and money in the process!"

Non-testers: We know many of you are already pros at bulk cooking and reducing food waste and we'd love to hear your top tips on this. How do you organise your freezer space? Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?
Whatever your tips may be, please do share with other Mumsnetters on this thread.

Everyone who adds a comment to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 M&S voucher!


Testers: We'd like you to post regular updates on this thread over the next couple of weeks, below are a few questions for you to answer but please also feel free to add any other comments you may also have. You may want to answer some questions now and some at the end of the challenge.

Questions to be answered at the start of the challenge:
- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?
- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?

Questions to be answered towards the end of the challenge:
- Which of Colman's dry recipe mixes did you/your family like best and why?
- How many portions/meals did you get out of each recipe you tried?
- How did you find freezing the extra portions?
- Did the challenge help you reduce your food waste at all? Did it help you to save time & money? If so please say how.
- After taking part in the change do you think you’re more likely to plan your meals for the week ahead?
- Do you think you'll be likely to continue to cook in bulk more often after the challenge? If so why? If not, why not?
- If it came up in conversation, would you recommend bulk cooking with Colman's dry recipe mixes to friends/family? If so, why? If not, why not?


Everyone who adds their feedback to this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £150 M&S voucher.

Thanks and good luck,

Katie @ MNHQ

Countdowntess Tue 24-Sep-13 20:16:36

How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?
I try and do the most of my cooking in bulk because I work FT and have 4 DC's so it is very difficult to drum up healthy meals at 6pm every week night.
Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?
I have already cooked and frozen the chicken casserole, beef casserole and sausage casserole. I do not plan to cook the chilli because the DC's wont eat it and it is a bit bland for me and DH.
Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?
Yes I meal plan every week and shop online. I rely on doing this otherwise I find it too difficult to maintain a healthy balanced diet for the family. It takes the stress out of my week and saves quite alot of money.

Countdowntess Tue 24-Sep-13 20:21:01

I really liked the tip Colman's sent of freezing half the cooked meal in a tinfoil lined pot, then removing the frozen tinfoil/meal package to the freezer. When meal required just unwrap and straight into the pot and into the oven. That is a clever tip and I would never have thought of doing that.

WingDefence Tue 24-Sep-13 22:55:36

Tester

Firstly, I didn't realise only 20 were going to get chosen so I'm chuffed smile

- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?

Probably once or twice a week. Mostly spag bol turned into chilli or casseroles/slow cooker recipes (less since my slow cooker broke last month).

- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?

We've made chicken casserole so far (and also a Colman's lamb hotpot mix but this wasn't sent to me as part of the trial). I think chilli ie mince-based meals are best for bulk cooking.

- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?

No, not really. Perhaps one or two nights ahead.

stephgr Wed 25-Sep-13 02:28:34

Non tester

My tips
When cooking, make more than you need so you can freeze some for another time
Soups are very easy to batch cook and freeze well. Just double or treble the ingredients, cook, cool and split into portions before freezing.
Cook a large batch of tomato pasta sauce, bolognese sauce, cheese sauce etc and split into several portions before freezing. You can then use these to make a variety of different meals.
Cakes and biscuits freeze well for up to 3 months but it's best to ice cakes after they have thawed.
Label foods carefully with dates when they were made
Wrap foods carefully to avoid 'freezer-burn' but leave enough room for the foods to expand. Or use freezer bags, thick cling film, aluminium foil, foil trays, plastic boxes or containers.
Defrost foods over night in the fridge or use the defrost setting on the microwave.

CheeryCherry Wed 25-Sep-13 03:18:05

Non tester here. I only have a small freezer so there is no need for colour coding etc, I just write on the tubs or bags with a permanent pen. I usually cook in bulk on a Sunday, making a mince based dish and separating it into a chilli, spag bol and a lasagne or cottage pie. I then freeze one or two dishes for the end of the week or when time is tight. If I make a pasta sauce I will make double do that one can be frozen, and the same goes for cooked fruit, which I bag up to save room.
I meal plan every week, chatting with the family for ideas/suggestions over dinner as I jot down the weekly shopping list - just makes my life easier.

JS06 Wed 25-Sep-13 08:51:09

Non-Tester

I've read some really helpful tips here, I'm often snookered by lack of freezer space though.

I love to watch a tv programme with tips and hints or read a magazine or newspaper article about 'best practice'. It can make me feel a failure that I'm not adopting all the advice but I'm reckoning that if I take a piece of someone elses experience every now and again then it's helpful.

The most I cook is to do double quantities, more often than not if it's baking with a cake or biscuits I usually give half away so that it's all eaten fresh and a thank you to our neighbour who keeps an eye on things. Stews etc seem to taste so much better after a night in the fridge and a bit of maturing time so these are popular and easy to do in a big slow cooker. Sometimes I tend to use the same old stock ingredients and my dishes can seem to taste the same after they've been done by me, that's why I like some of the ready mixes to give a flavour burst even though I can't quite get over thinking its a bit of a cheat.

ClaimedByMe Wed 25-Sep-13 10:30:13

Tester

Questions to be answered at the start of the challenge:
- How often do you and your family normally cook in bulk? If you hardly ever do, why do you think this is?

The only thing I really cook in bulk is soup in the winter, I just never think to cook in bulk.

- Which recipe mixes are you going to/have you already cooked? Which of the recipes do you think will work best with bulk cooking?

I have cooked with all of them, the chilli, beef casserole and sausage casserole all worked fine with the bulk cooking and there is half of each in the freezer, the chicken casserole even with cooking double all got eaten in one night which I am glad as I don't think the chicken would have been as nice frozen and reheated.

- Do you usually plan your meals for the week to come or not?

I usually have a fair idea what we will be having in the week although not very good at sticking to it!

NationMcKinley Wed 25-Sep-13 10:33:27

Non Tester:

I only have a small freezer so when I make soups or pasta sauces I make them with as little water / stock as possible so they're very thick and concentrated thereby taking up less space. When they're defrosted and ready to cook I just add more water / stock then grin

pussinwellyboots Wed 25-Sep-13 14:52:22

I partly bulk cook and try to have available single meal sizes of the most useful component in the freezer. For example I buy quality mince in bulk, divide it up into 500g portions and place in freezer bags - I write on the contents with a permanent marker. I make bolognase sauce and cottage pie fillings in bulk and portion up to freeze and then defrost one and assemble the lasagne/cottage pie. I'm sure that I can learn a lot more about bulk cooking a freezing.

missorinoco Wed 25-Sep-13 15:04:36

Non tester.

I bulk cook. If I make a family meal like shepherds pie/casserole/Irish stew I double the recipe and freeze half. I save margarine/spread tubs for this. I can usually work out what is in the freezer as I label them, but I get caught out in the fridge because I forget, and think it is butter.

Sometimes I split the portions into smaller sizes for children's meals. I also bulk cook soup when I make this.

I have an overly large slow cooker, which helps/forces me to do this. Any meal in the slow cooker would feed 5+ adults, leaving me no choice but to cook extra or it doesn't cook properly. I don't recommend this as a strategy though - prepping that quantity of food means it isn't feasible to chuck something in the slow cooker before work.

BadlyWrittenPoem Wed 25-Sep-13 16:30:07

How do you organise your freezer space?
I have sections for things like meat, veg, dairy, bread and baby milk sections for batch cooked meals, a misc section and a section for freezing things in when they're first made.
Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend?
I label the tops of lids of meals I make and if possible I try to have them divided into one drawer of meals that go with pasta and one of meals that go with rice. It does vary though and some go with either or with potato but it makes things easier to find in a rush.
How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste?
I can't say meal planning is key to reducing food waste - I'd say batch cooking has a bigger impact on avoiding waste. What meal planning does is enables me to ensure that we have a reasonable variety over each week.

WowOoo Wed 25-Sep-13 17:47:52

Non tester

I often cook in bulk and then freeze. I don't like to put stickers on my Tupperware so I put some paper with what's inside and how many portions, whether it's spicy etc.

I have similar things in similar sections - meals section, bread section, veg section, stocks and soups etc.

I found some great thickish bags for liquids - Pour and Store. I use these for gravy, stock and soup.

BrummyMummy2012 Wed 25-Sep-13 17:50:39

None tester
As a mum of 6, I really don't need to freeze anything I cook. I do cook more than we need though, and I refrigerate it for the next day. Especially during the winter, we always have a massive pot of 'something' on the cooker, be it a stew or curry. I find as long as you've got a decent selection of seasonings in your cupboard, you can make the cheapest, easiest, tastiest and healthiest meals for next to nothing and still have some left over to freeze or use the next day.

I have used Coleman's packets in the past but as my family has grown I don't buy them anymore as would need several packets per meal. I'm particularly interested in this thread as 'good once, eat twice' suggests to me a larger packet that makes up double portions.
If Coleman's made bigger packets I would be more inclined to use them again as I and my boys really enjoyed them x
Can some of the testers let me know please, or send me a link to the testers reviews? Thanks x

twinteresting Wed 25-Sep-13 17:51:07

Non tester lurking to read later.

BrummyMummy2012 Wed 25-Sep-13 17:52:52

Please ignore the bad grammar in my last post, i blame my phone.
I meant *cook once, eat twice

RubyRR Wed 25-Sep-13 18:17:37

My tubs for the freezer are size ordered, small ones for meal for 1, medium size for soups and the I have some freezer to oven dishes for lasagne etc. My current lasagne is going down really well, I cook lots of mince do spaghetti bolognese for that evening and make 2 Lasagnes, one for fridge one for freezer, I work shifts so I need to able to cater for different scenarios of who is eating when.

LindySfarne Wed 25-Sep-13 18:38:04

We have a whole freezer drawer we keep topped up with extra portions of meals ready for a quick reheat.

I usually serve up an average amount of meat for the first time we eat the meal, then the freezer portions are smaller which I pad out with a can of beans or lentils to make it stretch further.

ILoveAFullFridge Wed 25-Sep-13 18:50:17

Invest in a huge pan. It doesn't have to be expensive. I have a £35 non-stick pasta pan from JL, it's dishwasher-safe, and my most frequently used pan. That way you can cook a double quantity of soup/stew etc, feed the family tonight and freeze a family portion, too.

I mark my tubs with post-it place markers. They are made of some sort of plastic, you can right on them in pencil, and they peel off easily withou leaving any residue.

BlackberrySeason Wed 25-Sep-13 19:27:02

I agree with huge pan and also actually eating contents of the freezer once you have frozen ahead!

BornToFolk Wed 25-Sep-13 19:40:21

Non-tester

I often bulk cook. It's only me and DS (5) and it's really hard to cook things like spaghetti bolog in a 1-adult-plus-1-small-child portion, so I do a big pot then portion it up and freeze. I usually use takeaway containers for the freezer and label them up with masking tape and a Sharpie. The masking tape is good as it just peels off. As well as writing on what the food is, I also write how many portions it is as I'll do a variety of me only, DS only and me plus DS so I always have something suitable to hand.

I freeze everything! I've got two fridge freezers and the freezer bits are always full. As well as freezing leftovers, I freeze bread, milk, cheese and butter (especially if I see a good deal on cheese and butter, I'll stock up). If I use half a can or jar of something I'll stick the rest in the freezer. Odd ends of bread get thrown in there too, or if I'm particularly organised I'll make it into breadcrumbs first.

I absolutely hate waste! I avoid it by meal planning so that I cook things that require a lot of fresh ingredients soon after shopping and have freezer/cupboard based meals later in the week. I also buy fresh veg as I need it, from the market to avoid that "I just popped into Sainsburys for some salad and came out with a trolley load" scenario. Anything that can't be frozen goes into my Bokashi bin and then into the compost.

BananaPie Wed 25-Sep-13 20:30:54

Non tester: I bulk cook bolognaise and chilli con carne quite regularly, probably about twice a month. Freeze in portions in Tupperware.

What's the point of the packets though? I've not used them since student days.

Non-tester
I don't tend to bulk cook main meals as with a youngish family of 5 the portions from shop are usually about right, sometimes we have leftover bolognaise sauce but that is usually used for cold pasta lunches the next day.
I do bulk 'cook' lunch stuff, mainly making and freezing jellies and also cakes. When there is a birthday party I make two cakes, one for show and one to be cut up before the party and put in party bags, as it saves 10-15 min party time. The 'show' cake is then scoffed the next day cut up and frozen for lunches for the next few weeks.

sealight123 Wed 25-Sep-13 20:57:45

Non-Tester
How do you organise your freezer space? Everything is put in its own group- Meats, sweet treats, potato based, frozen bread/bakery and then other lol
Do you colour-coordinate food types, or is a Sharpie your best friend? We don't colour coordinate or sharpie...but I think this may be the way forward now smile
How about meal-planning, is this essential to reducing the amount of food you and your family waste? We bulk buy our meat then seperate them into ziplock bags for us to use for each family meal. We eat our leftovers as packed lunches the next day (the joys of having a microwave at work :P) and we have a dog...so she occasionally gets a few titbits...when she's good ofcourse

themummyonthebus Wed 25-Sep-13 21:38:54

Non tester.

I mostly cook one pot type recipes which are easier to portion out.
I only serve up in the kitchen to dissuade DH from using up the leftovers before they have a change to be left over.
I know use aluminium trays to freeze leftovers as I find food in bags pretty unappetising.
I always write the date by which I want to have eaten the food, rather than the date at which it's frozen as it's easier to identify what needs to be eaten.
I stack the trays in date order, oldest on top.
I generally put cooked leftovers aside and reheat in the microwave but occasionally I divvy everything up before cooking, in which case I write the cooking instructions on the tray lid.

ScienceRocks Wed 25-Sep-13 22:49:05

I reduce waste by meal planning week to week, bearing in mind what I already have in the fridge or cupboards. Internet grocery shopping makes a big difference as I don't impulse buy and just stick to my list.

I rarely bulk cook but instead freeze leftovers if we have them. Small portions (like bolognaise sauce) go in a designated cd drawer. Larger portions go in my designated "home cooked ready meal" drawer. I do have Tupperware but prefer to use old margarine containers, as they label better and I don't worry about them getting stained. Everything gets a sticker with the date, contents and no of portions on it. I buy cheap labels from the pound shop and use a biro for writing as it doesn't smudge or fade.

I make an exception to not bulk cooking for soup, which I freeze in old cream containers as these are the perfect size for me to defrost for lunch. These get labelled as above.

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