A super-organised mum has revealed how she slashes £50 off her shopping bill every week while packing her freezer full of batch-cooked meals.
Savvy Donna Steed, 50, has showed off her amazingly organised freezer and detailed her method for cutting down food costs – and giving herself free time in the evenings.
The busy Aberdeen mum’s freezer is rammed with stacks of batch-cooked dishes as her method cuts down her food costs and saves time in the evenings by batch cooking her family’s favourite dishes to freeze and put in the microwave to eat at a later date.
The mum, from Aberdeen, Scotland, spent a whole week preparing various meals just before Christmas, filling her standing freezer with 108 tubs which she believes will last her, husband George, 51, and 10-year-old son Dylan, until February.
Donna, who is a field line manager, highly recommends the clever method to other parents – especially because she can put her feet up after a long day at work and not worry about cooking dinner.
She said: “My husband and I work full time and we’re key workers, so we’re quite busy people and with lockdown, I thought I’d start getting into batch cooking.
“I like to be organised in my life so it became really enjoyable. Cooking has always been a bit of a hobby for me and I find it quite therapeutic.
“I had some time off over Christmas and New Year so I did a couple of dishes every other day to get the ball rolling.
“I tend to put one dish in the slow cooker, one on the hob and then one in the oven, then it didn’t feel as much of a chore.
“It seems quite productive but it really doesn’t require that much effort. In the end, it only takes about an hour out of the day.
“Before, I had a food budget of roughly £80 per week but once I started the batching, I’ve got it down to about £30 per week for the basics and perishables.
“It even cuts down on waste because I usually buy frozen veg as it’s easier to keep track of and it doesn’t go off – it also saves you crying over onions.
“It’s quite addictive because you feel like you’re being organised and efficient so it feels really good – and you’re making your life so much easier.”
Donna started her batch cooking journey after she cleared out the garage in her family home, and bought herself a new standing freezer.
She recommends building up ingredients by buying 1kg chicken or mince in each weekly shop to incorporate the costs into your budget and spread things out.
The mum then spends a day focusing on a particular set of dishes, before measuring out two servings into a tub to freeze and stack up high in the freezer.
Donna said: “It’s good to get yourself into a rhythm and focus on chicken dishes one day, then veggie dishes another, and the next day maybe a fish day.
“I did three to four dishes every other day and sometimes I’d do a side dish or a starter to throw in the freezer too – this would make about five or six tubs for the freezer each time.
“Slowly but surely, the freezer started filling up so I had to take the drawers out to fit more in. The tubs are now two rows deep in there and there’s about 108 dishes.
“Before you know it, you’ve made meals for the family to last for the next month or so. It’s great.”
Donna has managed to build up a stack of good recipes to batch, and suggests cooking more adaptable dishes such as curry, tagine or stews.
She even uses an app to audit the big freezer which helps her see what dishes she has left to indicate when she might need to do another session in the kitchen.
Donna added: “I think my superhero name would be something like ‘list girl’ because I like to organise it all and have a proper meal plan in place.
“Batch cooking has totally transformed my life by saving time, space, waste and money.
“It’s great because once everyone’s come home it’s a matter of quickly heating a dish up, putting it on the table and then having the rest of the evening to yourself which is nice.
“I’m really happy I started doing this and I just find that it works for me really well. I would recommend it to anyone.
“I’ve got to the stage of a full freezer and now I can just keep the kettle boiling and keep stocking it up.”
How much Donna saves
Donna’s weekly food shop budget before batch cooking: £80
Donna’s weekly food shop budget after batch cooking: £30
Saving £50 per week
Saving £200 per month