I definitely do.
I have a pile of great recipes books.
I’ve tried all sorts of fancy meal planning tips.
And bulk cooking, fill-your-freezer-in-an-afternoon plans.
But the truth is, cooking’s not really my thing.
I mean, I don’t mind it. I actually quite enjoy it sometimes.
But when everything’s busy, busy. And I’m feeling over loaded.
I don’t find it relaxing.
Misreading the recipe.
And completely missing the one most critical step.
Realising I don’t have half the ingredients.
And those I do have are past their use by date.
Because I’m trying to do five other things at the same time.
Sound familiar? It certainly stresses me out.
BUT I have found ONE thing that really helps me get meals on the table.
Quickly! Even when I’m crazy stressed lady.
And that’s, this super simple, really healthy, uber tasty, full of veg tomato sauce.
“Tomato sauce!!!” you say?
“What’s so magical about that?”
WELL, with a freezer full of this ONE sauce I can knock up – without a recipe – TEN totally different – NO it’s NOT pasta again! – meals.
FAST! And I mean seriously, seriously, stress free fast!
They might not be the fanciest meals in the whole world.
But they are really not bad … (check them out below).
AND it is this sauce – more than anything – that saves me from forking out for ready meals and takeaways.
It really is simple to cook a massive pot full of it and freeze portions.
You can read the easy instructions for the sauce here …
And below are the 10 different ways you can use the sauce to put quick meals together.
All you’ve got to do is defrost a tub of sauce – plus a bit of meat – and you’re away.
And if like me you have a picky eater who doesn’t do big chunks of veg, just blend the sauce up.
1. Quick Curry
Fry a finely chopped onion for 5 minutes with whatever curry like spices you have.
A combo of cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala or just plain old curry power work fine.
Stir in chunks / slices of defrosted, leftover chicken or a can of chickpeas.
And the defrosted tomato sauce and heat for 10 minutes.
Serve with rice.
You could add a small tin of coconut milk if you like do. I do. But my family doesn’t.
If you haven’t got meat, you could just top with sliced boiled eggs.
2. Simple Lasagana
Lasagna sounds simple doesn’t it. But somehow becomes a big faff.
This version might be not the most exciting ever but it is on the table in 30 minutes or so.
And it doesn’t give you brain ache.
Defrost and brown some mince in a little oil.
Don’t bother with an onion. There’s plenty in the sauce.
Add two portions of defrosted sauce and warm through quickly.
Layer sauce, lasagna (NEVER buy the stuff that needs precooking) and loads of grated cheese in a roasting tin.
Cook on a low heat – 140c ish – for about 25 minutes.
3. Baked Fish
This idea originally came from River Cottage.
Bake fillets of white fish – e.g. cod – for 15 minutes or so on a baking tray in a medium oven.
Defrost a small portion of tomato sauce.
Add about 75ml of apple juice.
Blend it up and warm through while the fish is cooking.
Serve with jacket potatoes from the microwave unless you remembered to get them in the oven.
4. Papa Pomodorro
This is a great way to use up slightly hard bread.
It’s a kind of soupy-stew thing. And fab Italian comfort food.
It does need to be a proper loaf of some sort. It doesn’t work with supermarket sliced.
Break bread up into chunks.
Heat roughly 100ml of stock and 3 tablespoonsish of olive oil.
And lightly brown a couple of cloves of minced garlic.
Then fry the bread chunks on a high heat until nice and crispy.
Then chuck in a portion of defrosted tomato sauce.
And simmer gently for 10 minutes or so.
This might not pass muster as authentic Mexican but is ever popular in my house.
Defrost some mince or meatballs and a portion of tomato sauce.
Brown the meat with a little chopped chilli and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and cumin.
Or any vaguely hot spices you have your kids can handle.
Chuck in a defrosted portion of tomato sauce and cook for 5 or 10 minutes.
Serve with microwave warmed tortillas, grated cheese, plain yoghurt and a mashed avocado.
Letting everyone put there’s together.
6. Spaghetti Sorrentina
As easy at it comes. And vaguely authentic Italian!
We ate it loads when we were in Sorrento.
Cook plenty of spaghetti.
Defrost and warm through a mid-sized portion of tomato sauce.
Blitz the sauce in the blender.
Then stir into spaghetti with chopped up mozarella.
OK you’ve got to be vaguely organised to make this.
And get started straight after school.
But it really is simple and your kids will love to help.
To make the pizza dough you just chuck together:
- 225g / 8oz of plain flour with the same of bread flour
- teaspoons of sugar, quick yeast and salt
- and a tablespoon of olive oil
Pour roughly 300ml / half of pint of warm water into the dry ingredients.
And bring together as a dough just as if you were making playdough!
Leave to rise for an hour. Then roll out into circles.
Plonk dollops of defrosted tomato sauce on each circle.
Plus bits of mozarella if you like and fold over pasty style.
Cook for 15 minutes or so in a hot oven – about 400f/200c.
8. Chicken Cheat Casserole
Defrost leftover chicken slices or chunks and a couple of portions of sauce.
Bake in a casserole dish for 20 minutes or so in a low to medium oven.
Whilst you cook some potatoes.
If you happened to have any odd green basil or parsley lying around you could add some.
This is vaguely north African inspired.
Add half a teaspoon of parika to a big portion of defrosted tomato sauce in a baking dish.
Cumin, cayenne pepper or turmeric would also do. You’re just trying to add some heat.
Make a dip in the sauce for each person eating.
Then crack one egg at a time into a cup and pour into the dips.
Bake for about 12 minutes in a medium oven, 180c/350f until the white is set.
Serve with big chunks of good bread. Or flat breads.
10. Spag Bol
Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without spag bol would it?
Now this version isn’t going to win any prizes.
But this is all about vaguely healthy food fast that you can make when your brain is aching.
So you don’t end up buying ready meals or ordering take aways.
And this really does take 10 minutes.
Just brown some defrosted mince / ground beef.
Smooth blend a portion of defrosted tomato sauce. You could add a splash of red wine.
Pour over the meat and warm through whilst the spaghetti cooks.
Stir into the drained spaghetti in the pan and serve with lots of parmesan.
So there you go TEN super quick family meals you can make from just ONE simple sauce!
Even when you’re beyond frazzled.
I do hope it helps.
If you’re looking for more simple ideas to help you slow down do sign up for my newsletter …