As the nation prepares for another lockdown, cooking up nutritious meals for the family can become somewhat of a challenge due to being able to shop less frequently. As well as those comfort foods and snacks that we’re still going to crave, it’s important to serve up immune-boosting dishes to keep everyone as healthy as we possibly can. With this in mind, we asked Cesar Fernandez, Home Economist at Miele GB, for his advice on how to make the most of the current situation with top tips on how professional kitchens would handle it…
“First and foremost, the three essentials are to plan ahead, batch cook and reduce waste. These are things we should ideally all be doing anyway and it’s something we can take forward once we move out of the current situation.
Take an inventory
To start, take an inventory of everything you already have in the kitchen cupboards, larder, fridge and freezer. As we are forced now to spend a lot of time indoors, it’s the perfect opportunity to get everything out, have a good clean, rearrange into some order and make a list of all the tins, packets, fresh produce and frozen foods that you already have, just like a restaurant chef would do. This will help you to reduce unnecessary shopping and identify what you actually need.
Search for recipes that will use up what you already have at home and don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients. For instance, if a recipe calls for Harissa paste, you can always use tomato purée mixed with chilli flakes and a little olive oil instead. Use this extra time to rediscover your love of cooking if you’ve lost it lately. Take your time, get the whole family involved in the preparation and enjoy being together, chatting and having fun.
This is something we advise anyone to do when they’re on a budget, so now is the perfect time to embrace your organisational skills. Devise a menu for the week, write a shopping list for all the ingredients you need – don’t forget to check your inventory to see what you already have – and avoid buying unnecessary items. Meals don’t have to be complicated - keep it simple, buy only what you need and think about other shoppers along the way. Leave enough on the shelves for everyone.
Think outside the box
Many businesses are adapting to the current circumstances and there are plenty of local fruit and vegetable box schemes all over the country. Most will deliver to your doorstep, ideal for those who are self-isolating, and check to see if your nearest butcher or fishmonger are doing home deliveries now too. This will help to support small businesses that have been hit hard by the crisis and it’s important we don’t forget them once life returns to normal. A lot of trade suppliers are also now open to the general public.
Make the most of every single ingredient. Add some rice and stock into a casserole and turn last night’s supper into today’s lunch. Use vegetables to make nutritious homemade soup; vegetable peelings also make a lovely stock while cauliflower stalks are delicious slow cooked or shredded through a coleslaw.
One ingredient, different meals
Pulses are one of the most versatile and nutritious ingredients you can buy. Soak a batch of white beans overnight and cook with some spices the following day. You can use them for salads, blended into some hummus or add a soft boiled egg, a good drizzle of olive oil, chilli flakes and fresh herbs for a warm, comforting lunch.
There are plenty of recipes that use very few ingredients, are extremely versatile and have a long shelf life. Caramelise some shallots with garlic, anchovies and tomato purée. It’s delicious over a bowl of pasta, a tray of roasted vegetables, spread onto toast or mixed with Greek yoghurt and used as a dip. A basic mince mix – meat or Quorn – can also be used to make spaghetti bolognese, chill and cottage pie.
Miele can help
Our vacuum sealing drawer is the perfect appliance for portioning and storing, as it allows you to keep your ingredients or food intact, both in the fridge or freezer, extending its shelf life. Meanwhile, our PerfectFresh Pro Drawer found in our refrigeration appliances keeps meat, fish and many dairy products fresh up to three times’ longer and fruit and vegetables up to five times’ longer thanks to optimised humidity controls on the drawer.
With a little careful planning, some creative thought and thinking outside the norm, everyone can cook healthy, flavoursome and comforting meals to feed their loved ones. We are here with you.”