We challenged MasterChef finalist Jack Lucas to create meals from frozen ingredients for one week. How did he fare?
Since moving to London post-MasterChef, I’ve found time an increasingly precious commodity. Less time seems to bring with it bad habits – buying the same stuff in my ‘go-to’ aisles in the supermarket, using up all the pots and pans in the kitchen (to my girlfriend’s delight!) and often, half the fresh ingredients I buy get binned before I get the chance to use them up.
So, Sainsbury’s challenge to ‘eat from the freezer’ for a week as part of their Love Your Freezer campaign couldn’t have come at a better time. The challenge? To cook one meal a day for a week using ingredients that I didn’t even know you could freeze. Here’s how I got on.
Day 1: Beginning-of-the-week blues
It’s a cold and wet Monday night and the thought of a long week’s work ahead of me is a bleak prospect. I want to kick-start the week with something sunny. So I went for Chorizo and chicken paella made with handy frozen chopped onions, chopped frozen garlic and frozen chopped parsley which cut prep time (and mess) down so that it was on the table in 35 minutes. I substituted the chicken for prawns to use them up, and I loved how authentic this tasted. Good job.
Day 2: Date night
Tuesday’s the one night of the week when I’m home before the girlfriend so I fancy cooking something a little upmarket without breaking the bank. The table’s laid, the wine opened and tonight Matthew, I’m making Salmon fishcakes with minted crushed peas. They’re a staple on gastro-pub menus across Britain and for a reason: they’re simple to prepare and reasonably cheap. This recipe was just that – and the frozen mash made these a doddle to make. I threw in some chopped spring onions and they tasted fantastic.
Day 3: Meat-free Wednesdays
Ahhh... Vegetarian food. I’ll be honest - I’m a bit of a carnivore, so I was concerned these Cheddar bean and spinach burgers might leave me a little unsatisfied. How wrong was I. This recipe, made with my new best friend frozen mash, really surprised me. Prepare to get a little messy making these (they’d be great to make with kids), but they tasted great - especially with the fiery tomato salsa. I had the rest for lunch the next day. Bonus.
Day 4: Quick and easy supper
I’m in a rush. Tonight I need something quick and simple with minimal washing-up, so I opt for one-pan wonder: Prawn and spinach risotto. This recipe includes frozen onion and garlic, frozen prawns and spinach for maximum convenience, it also means no chopping whatsoever. Super-easy, packs a flavour punch and fills a cavernous hole. Job done!
Day 5: All about the pies
Fusion food is becoming increasingly popular, so this Spicy ginger and chilli fish pie sparked my interest and seemed like a suitable Friday night treat. Surprisingly, this is almost entirely made from frozen ingredients which ended up saving me loads of time and washing-up. I’d never have thought of using spice (especially of the frozen variety) in a fish pie but this was incredible and definitely one to use going forward.
And to finish (because it’s Friday)
I topped the meal, and my frozen week, off with one of the easiest cherry pies on the net, made with frozen dark sweet cherries. I left the lattice topping to my girlfriend, who executed it with Mary Berry-esque technique and served it with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream. Heaven!
This has been a real eye-opener. No chopping saves loads of time, there’s less washing-up, less waste and it’s really budget-friendly too. Probably the best bit about it all though was the realisation that it is possible to create genuinely delicious food using frozen ingredients.