stew

Bulk It Up

Eating for mass isn’t an easy undertaking. After all, it can seemingly take forever to prepare all the meals necessary to fuel monumental growth. And if you tackle your repasts on a meal-by-meal basis, it’s likely you’ll end up cosying up to a soggy frozen dinner or idling in the drive-thru line for the sake of stealing back lost time.

That’s why to keep your muscles fed and full in the best possible way, it’s time to employ a cooking method that requires some upfront effort but pays significant dividends down the road. We’re talking about ye-olde batch cooking. Long employed by Volvo-driving soccer mums to feed a hungry family, preparing large quantities of foods at once to be doled out over the days to come saves you serious time in the kitchen. And preparing items like stews and chilli in a single pan cuts down on the need to deal with a pile of grimy dishes in the sink.

So put down that remote and carve out some time from your Sunday afternoons to cook up a storm with these big-batch nutritious recipes that are clutch for solving the problem of “What’s there to eat?”

MAKE IT LAST

How to get more meal mileage

CHILL OUT Leftovers can be safe to eat for up to a week if they have been chilled in a fridge set at an optimal temperature of 4°C.

SUBZERO HEROES These recipes freeze well for future meals. But don’t freeze an entire batch of beef stew into one giant solid block. Instead, break up the dishes into different containers based on desired serving sizes for quicker freezing and thawing.

To avoid the dreaded “freezer burn”, use a straw to suck out any excess air from zip-top bags. If using a solid container, lay a piece of baking or wax paper over the food.

High-moisture items like stews expand up to 10 percent when they freeze, so leave some headspace between the top of the food and the lid. Containers should be placed directly on the floor of the freezer (not on shelves) to increase the speed at which heat is removed from the food. Slow freezing encourages the formation of large ice crystals that pierce the cell structure of the food and ruin its texture.

DON’T LINGER It’s a myth that you need to allow a dish to come down to room temperature before chilling or freezing, which serves to only raise the risk of bacteria growth. The maximum amount of safe time between the end of cooking and refrigeration or freezing is two hours.

 

BEEF SPELT STEW

Serves 6

Calories 559 Protein 36g Carbs 36g Fat 31g Per serving

Simmer up this beast of a stew and you can have a week’s worth of get-big protein and calories ready when you are. As a bonus, wholegrain spelt and vegetables provide nutrients needed to properly recover from your workouts.

Make it better: when tough, less expensive cuts of beef like chuck or round are braised in some liquid for a period of time, the meat becomes deliciously tender. Saving money never tasted so good.

Need to know: spelt is an ancient form of wheat that has a stellar chewy bite and delivers quality carbohydrate calories. Find it at most health-food shops.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp oil
1kg beef chuck or top round, excess fat trimmed and cut into 2.5cm pieces
1 large brown onion, diced
½ tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
3 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 cup wholegrain spelt
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium butternut pumpkin, peeled, cubed
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
½ cup chopped parsley

 

Directions

1 Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add beef and cook until browned all over. If pan is too crowded, brown beef in batches. Remove beef from pan and set aside.

2 Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and salt to pan and heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, thyme, cumin, allspice and cayenne and heat 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrap up any brown bits from bottom of pan. Add stock, 2 cups water, beef, spelt and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, carrots and celery; continue simmering until spelt and vegies are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley.

 

For the full collection of bulk up receipts read the article in the Feb/Mar 2016 Australian FLEX.

For more recipes and articles subscribe to Australian FLEX magazine.