Sweet Potato says… batch cook!

Are you sick of having to prepare dinner every night? Try batch cooking! It will let you spend your weeknights doing fun things instead of cooking.

Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh 0

photo: Maya Visnyei

How does one hour spent on Sunday afternoon equal a week’s worth of reduced stress? Well, like Barbie used to say, math is hard, so I don’t know. But it does. Having a meal or two ready and waiting in the freezer frees up the mental space you normally spend from 4:30 onwards each day wondering/hoping/praying dinner will somehow come together by 6:30 that evening. Imagine what you could be doing instead! I’m talking about batch cooking. It sounds as unsexy as old fuzzy slippers but try it once and you won’t care. Just ask the ladies of Today’s Parent. I regularly jump on Twitter on Sunday afternoon to check out what todaysparent.com bosses, Nadine Silverthorne and Elana Schachter or the magazine’s executive editor, Sandra Martin are cooking up.

These little meatloaves couldn’t be simpler or more kid-friendly. But they’ll still give you a dose of nostalgia you want from this comfort dinner. May as well go ahead and double the recipe so you’ve got a couple of dinners on call.

Mini Turkey Meatloaves
Makes 6 minis
1 glug of olive oil
1/3 cup onion, diced on the fine side (this is about half of a medium onion)
1/3 cup celery, diced small
1/3 cup carrot, peeled and diced small
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 1/2 pound of ground turkey
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Warm up your small splash of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

3. Add your vegetables and the fennel seeds and allow them just start to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.

4. In a large mixing bowl, dump your meat, oats, ketchup, sauteed vegetables, cheese and a whisked egg. You can use a fork or wooden spoon to blend all over your ingredients but the best tools will be your hands. Remember to take your rings off first! Mix it all together thoroughly – you want each bite to have a mix of all the elements.

5. Now use a 1/3 cup measure to scoop up your mixture and just kind of dump it into your muffin tin. In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp of ketchup and 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce. Use a small spoon to smear this glaze over the top of your mini meatloaves.

6. Pop them in the oven for 40 minutes. The internal temperature for meatloaf should be 160 to 165 degrees. We had ours with mashed potatoes and green beans but any vegetable combo on the side your family likes is great.

Freezer tips
If you’re going to freeze these do not allow them to cool on the counter first. The bacteria that can make you sick flourish between 40 and 140 degrees. The other thing to keep in mind when freezing is to do it fast. Food that is frozen slowly will be full of large ice crystals, which will damage the food as it thaws. The faster you freeze food, the smaller the ice crystal. So, just check that your freezer is set nice and low.

The easiest ways for these to keep them shape well is to get them into the freezer while they’re still in the muffin tins and allow them to chill and firm up. After an hour or so you can more easily get them out of the tray and put them in a zip lock bag or air tight container — just don’t forget to mark the date on them. They’ll keep well for 2 to 3 months.

When re-heating, you can either thaw them in the fridge over night and then re-heat them in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes of pop them in frozen for about 20.

Want to get ahead with more batch cooking? More recipes from Sweet Potato Chronicles:
OMG Chicken Parm
is as good as the name suggests. It’s terrific over egg noodles but also makes a great sandwich or just chop the chicken into small pieces and toss with hot, cooked pasta.

The Portobello mushrooms in this Vegetarian Chili make it very satisfying. And the yield on this recipe means you could split it in half, have one batch for dinner and get the other batch in the freezer for another night.

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