batch cooking fish pie recipe for freezer

3 easy batch-cooking freezer recipes to simplify midweek meals

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Make these dishes from new cookbook Freeze, and you’ll never face that ‘what the hell do I eat tonight?’ dilemma again.

We’ve all been there: buying a disappointing ready-meal from the supermarket, or caving and ordering an expensive takeaway because the prospect of making dinner from scratch is too much after a long day. 

Sometimes, these steps feel wholly necessary (no judgement here – we shudder to think about Team Stylist’s collective monthly Deliveroo expenditure). But if you happen to have an afternoon to dedicate to batch-cooking, you can stock your freezer with delicious homemade dishes – ready to be heated up at a moment’s notice.

That’s the ethos of Freeze, the new cookbook by Ruby Bell and Milly Bagot. The founders of nationwide frozen meal delivery service ByRuby specialise in creating dishes that can be served immediately after cooking – or stashed in the freezer and reheated at a later date. 

Below, Bell and Bagot share three of the best dinner recipes from their new book. If you love Thai green curry, try the customisable recipe for tofu, chicken or salmon with seasonal vegetables.

Similarly straightforward is the vegan one-pot bean chilli, made with harissa, cacao powder and puy lentils (like the Thai-inspired recipe, it’s dairy and gluten-free). 

Freeze ByRuby cookbook
Freeze by Ruby Bell and Milly Bagot of ByRuby is out now with Mitchell Beazley

Alternatively, for a heartier dinner, make ByRuby’s bestselling ‘fabulous fish pie’, which can be adapted to include any fish you like. Just remember Bell and Bagot’s top tips: always ensure food is cooled completely before sticking it in the freezer, and choose your containers depending on your preferred reheating method. 

Ceramic or earthenware dishes and Pyrex containers are generally safe to go into both microwaves and ovens, while disposable foil cartons and enamelware dishes are suited to ovens only. Microwave-safe plastic tubs – unsurprisingly – are designed for microwave reheating, but if you’re unsure, simply check the base of your container.

Before freezing, label your food clearly with the date you cooked it and a best-before date: the three recipes below can all be frozen for up to six months. If your chosen containers don’t have neatly fitting lids, wrap them tightly in foil (if they’ll be going in the oven) or clingfilm (for microwave reheating). And always pierce clingfilm before putting your dish in the microwave, unless you fancy a mini kitchen explosion.

“I can come home now, put one of our handmade, all-natural meals in the oven, take a bath and then dinner is ready,” Bell writes in the introduction to Freeze. “It really has made that midweek nightmare into a midweek wonder.” We can get on board with that. 

  • Thai green tofu, chicken or salmon with seasonal vegetables

    Batch cooking thai green curry recipe for freezing
    Batch cooking recipes for freezing: ByRuby's Thai green tofu, chicken or salmon with seasonal vegetables

    Ruby Bell and Milly Bagot say: “This is a great dish for using up veggies in your refrigerator or seasonal veg box, so feel free to substitute any you may have around for those listed. For a more substantial meal, serve with rice.”

    Makes 8–9 portions

    Ingredients

    • 3 baby aubergines, cut into 4cm cubes
    • vegetable oil
    • 200g new potatoes, halved
    • 100g baby corn, halved
    • 200g green beans, halved
    • 400g firm tofu, cut into 2cm cubes OR 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2cm chunks OR 2 skinless salmon fillets, about 200g each, cut into 2cm chunks
    • grated zest and juice of 1 lime
    • 10g fresh coriander leaves, chopped
    • gluten-free dark soy sauce (optional)
    • salt
    • handful of Thai basil sprigs, leaves picked and chopped, to garnish (optional)

    For the curry base:

    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 ½ tbsp Thai green curry paste
    • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
    • 2 × 400ml cans coconut milk
    • 3 tsp fish sauce

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.

    Spread the aubergine chunks out on a baking tray, drizzle with vegetable oil and roast for 15–20 minutes or until cooked through.

    Meanwhile, make the curry base. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat.

    Add the garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn it.

    Add the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

    Stir in the lime leaves, coconut milk and fish sauce, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    While the curry is simmering, bring a saucepan of well-salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the corn and beans and cook for 3 minutes. Drain.

    If you are using tofu, place on a baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes until golden, then add to the curry sauce.

    If you are using chicken, add to the curry sauce and cook for 10–15 minutes or until cooked through and tender.

    If you are using salmon and eating now, add to the curry sauce and cook for 5 minutes or until just cooked through. If freezing, remove the curry sauce from the heat and just add the salmon to the sauce, as the reheating process will cook the salmon perfectly.

    Stir all the cooked vegetables into the curry sauce and add the lime zest and juice and the coriander.

    Season to taste with soy sauce (if using) or salt.

    Garnish with the Thai fresh basil, if you like, before serving.

    Freeze

    Portion out the green curry mixture into appropriate containers.

    Leave to cool, then seal, label and date before freezing.

    Reheat in the microwave

    Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then remove from the microwave and stir.

    Re-cover but don’t seal and microwave for a further 5 minutes or until piping hot.

    Leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

    Reheat in the oven

    Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/Gas Mark 4. Uncover the ovenproof container and then cover the top with foil.

    Place on a baking sheet in the centre of the oven for 40–45 minutes or until piping hot.

    Leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

  • Ruby’s one-pot bean chilli

    Batch cooking vegan chilli recipe for freezer
    Batch cooking recipes for freezing: ByRuby's one-pot bean chilli

    Ruby says: “This is such a versatile recipe – great with a baked potato, wholewheat pasta or as it comes with some coconut yogurt and freshly chopped avocado. It also makes a great vegan taco and wrap filling. 

    “I use a can of black beans here, but you can use any kind you may have or prefer.”

    Makes 6–7 portions

    Ingredients

    • vegetable oil
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
    • ½ tsp chilli powder
    • 2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
    • 2 tbsp harissa
    • ½ tbsp cacao powder
    • 180g dried puy lentils, well rinsed and drained
    • 120g quinoa, well rinsed and drained
    • 400g can chopped tomatoes
    • 800ml vegetable stock
    • 400g can beans, such as black beans, drained and rinsed
    • salt and pepper
    • 15g fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish (optional)

    To serve (optional):

    • coconut yogurt
    • freshly chopped avocado

    Method

    Heat a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add a glug of vegetable oil and then the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes.

    Stir in the red chillies, chilli powder, cumin seeds, harissa and cacao powder and cook for a further 5 minutes.

    Add the lentils and quinoa, then pour over the tomatoes and stock.

    Bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes, until the lentils and quinoa are cooked through, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if needed.

    Stir in the beans and heat through for a few minutes.

    Remove from the heat and season to taste, garnish with the coriander, if using, and serve with a dollop of coconut yogurt and some freshly chopped avocado, if you like.

    Freeze

    Portion out the bean chilli into appropriate containers. Leave to cool, then seal, label and date before freezing.

    Reheat in the microwave

    Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then remove from the microwave and stir. Re-cover but don’t seal and microwave for a further 5 minutes or until piping hot.

    Leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

    Reheat in the oven

    Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/Gas Mark 4. Uncover the ovenproof container and then cover the top with foil.

    Place on a baking sheet in the centre of the oven for 40–45 minutes or until piping hot.

    Leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.

  • Ruby’s fabulous fish pie

    batch cooking fish pie recipe for freezer
    Batch cooking recipes for freezing: ByRuby's fabulous fish pie

    Ruby says: “This meal has been number one of the top sellers at ByRuby since the beginning and there is a reason for that. It’s so moreish, comforting and delicious! You can use any fish you fancy here, but as we always say, make sure it’s sustainable.”

    Makes 10–12 portions

    Ingredients

    • 1 side of smoked haddock, about 600g, skin and pin bones removed
    • 1 side of coley or any white fish, about 600g, skin and pin bones removed
    • 1 side of salmon, about 600g, skin and pin bones removed
    • 3kg potatoes, peeled and quartered
    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 5 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped
    • 15g thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 50g unsalted butter
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 30g flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
    • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 4 tbsp grated cheddar cheese (optional)
    • salt and pepper

    For the white sauce:

    • 150g unsalted butter
    • 150g plain flour
    • 1.5 litres milk

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/Gas Mark 6.

    Put the haddock into a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil over a medium heat, then drain and set aside.

    Place the coley and salmon on a baking tray and bake for about 10–12 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Set aside but leave the oven on if eating now.

    Cook the potatoes in a large pan of salted boiling water for about 15 minutes until cooked through.

    Meanwhile, heat a pan over a low heat. Add the vegetable oil and then the onion and leeks and sweat for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent.

    Add the thyme and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.

    Drain the potatoes, return to the pan and add the butter, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a fork – I like my mash slightly chunky but you can go ultra-smooth if you prefer.

    For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, stir in the flour until it forms a roux and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

    Then gradually add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly until it is all incorporated and the sauce is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and season to taste.

    Mix the cooked fish, white sauce and onion and leek mixture together gently, ensuring that the fish remains in large chunks for added texture. Then fold in the parsley and lemon zest and juice and season to taste.

    If eating now, transfer the fish mixture to a baking dish, top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle with the grated cheddar, if using.

    Bake for 30–35 minutes or until the top is golden and the filling is piping hot.

    Freeze

    Portion out the fish pie filling into freezer-safe and ovenproof containers or dishes, then top with the mashed potatoes and add a sprinkle of grated cheddar, if using. Leave to cool.

    Put the lids on or wrap tightly in clingfilm or foil, label and date before freezing.

    Reheat in the oven

    Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/Gas Mark 4.

    Uncover the ovenproof container, place on a baking sheet and bake for 40–45 minutes, until the top is golden and the filling is piping hot.

    Freeze: Super-Nourishing Meals To Batch Cook, Freeze And Eat On Demand by Ruby Bell and Milly Bagot of ByRuby (£16.99, Mitchell Beazley) is out now

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Photography: Haarala Hamilton Photography

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