Those of you with busy, active lifestyles will know the value of a batch cook - an hour and a half on Sunday evening cooking for the week ahead can save a world of pain during the evenings that lie ahead. Just dip into the fridge or freezer, grab a portion and tuck into something that's the all-too-rare combination of healthy, quick and convenient.
This stew is one I've done a few times before with great success, so I decided to document it for our readers. Unfortunately it didn't go to plan on this particular occasion... but hey, it's good to learn from mistakes, right? And here, because I'm so darn generous, you can learn from mine...
1. Pick up your ingredients.
You will need:
- A massive bag of carrots
- A butternut squash
- Two packs of broccoli
- Two packs of flat mushrooms
- A ginger root
- Three massive sweet potatoes (or five regular-sized ones)
- Three leeks
- Two tins of peas
- Two tins of chopped tomatoes
- About 1.25kg of chicken
2. Lay them all out, by colour. Just because.
3. Take a photo.
Because what's the point in doing something so virtuous if people don't know you're doing it?
4. Post the picture on Instagram.
5. Set up the iPad in the kitchen and start watching something on Netflix. You're going to be here a while.
6. Peel everything. Use one of these guys, for the good of your own sanity.
7. Start chopping. And keep things tidy.
8. Keep chopping. Just like this. It's easy.
9. Ugh, butternut squash. We meet again.
10. Oh well look at that, I actually aced it this time!
11. Once all the veg is chopped, take another picture. You are a Domestic God, and everyone needs to know it.
12. Lash a bit of oil into the biggest pot you can get your hands on, stick it on a high heat, and once it's hot enough throw in the chicken, which you've chopped into nice small bits without realising it may have been better to leave them large.
13. Next, chuck in the leeks. Be sure to say "Uh oh! There's a leek in the pot" even if there's nobody else in the kitchen.
14. Now it's important to put things in reverse order based on how long they'll take to cook. So throw in the mushrooms without thinking, and then realise the sweet potatoes probably should have gone first.
16. Panic and throw in the sweet potatoes.
LALALALA EVERYTHING'S FINE HERE.
17. Whatever you're watching on Netflix is starting to distract you. Switch it off.
18. Hmm, better throw some water in there because the sweet potatoes are just kinda sitting on top of the chicken, leeks and mushrooms.
And with water comes the source of all flavour... stock!
19. You forgot to buy stock. You utter moron.
20. Start wondering why you never did home economics in school.
21. Begin to re-evaluate several other life choices.
I never should have quit football when I was 11. I could have made it.
22. Realise you can smell burning. Continue re-evaluation of life choices.
23. Whatever happened to the mum from Sister Sister? She was gas.
24. Throw in the carrots even though it's all a lost cause now anyway.
25. Oh and the cans of tomato and peas. Add more water because it really doesn't look like any of this stuff is going to get cooked. Annnnd there's a smell of burning, but there's too much bloody stuff in the pot to be able to stir it effectively.
It's just a little stodgy, it's still good, it's still good!
26. WHY THE HELL ARE WOODEN SPOONS SO SHORT?!
27. The pot, despite its ridiculously massive size, is full. And you still have about a metric ton of broccoli to add. Right.
28. You've been so busy panicking about fitting everything into the pot that you're forgotten to put in ANY flavours.
Who needs 'em anyway.
29. Grate some ginger and throw it in, as if that's going to make a remote difference at this point. Then stick on Modern Love by David Bowie, because that's the only thing that can cheer you up in situations like this.
30. Go to the spice rack to see if there's anything you can add to boost the flavour, because right now all you've got is overcooked leek, a bit of ginger and canned tomato.
31. The spice rack is pretty much empty, somehow. You could run out to the shops to buy some, but the pot is stewing and you don't know if… or… what the hell is even going on any more?
32. OH SHUT UP DAVID BOWIE, YOU'RE NOT HELPING.
33. You don't even have salt? What the hell? How do you not even have any salt? You had salt before! You had salt 20 minutes ago! You definitely have… oh wait, there it is.
I am going to die in this kitchen.
34. Sorry David Bowie. I didn't mean what I said a few minutes ago.
The only thing he ever got from me was sorrow. Sorrow.
35. Stick on the lid and let it simmer away on a low heat. If the chicken cooks through and you don't die from eating this, you're prepared to call that a win at this point.
36. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. UGH!
37. Dish up and serve with a side of self-loathing. And broccoli. Because you know what you've got left from all this? Loads and loads and loads of uncooked broccoli.
Okay, so this was a bit of a disaster… and I swear, I've done this successfully on several other occasions.
But for batch cooks that don't take forever, are packed with nutrients and are super cost-effective, check back in next weekend when we'll be starting our new weekly series.
In the meantime, do you have any handy go-to recipes for when you need to cook for the week ahead? Share them with us below, and we'll try our hand at the best ones!