No, it is not meal prepping a dozen versions of the same meal and freezing it. It is not even batch cooking ingredients, though you can do that if you want. Ingredient stacking is a part of the pre-prep prep that comes with organising dinners for the week. It happens before you even step into the grocery store and, in just half an hour, can save you time, stress and money.
Ingredient stacking is about planning your weekly meal with as much ingredient cross-over as possible: that is, having varied and interesting meals throughout the week but reducing the cost that comes with buying multiple varieties of ingredients: greek yoghurt, sour cream and heavy cream, and also chicken breasts, beef sausages, pork mince and chicken schnitzels. That adds up very quickly. Instead, with just a few clever tricks, you can reduce your bill without sacrificing variety or taste — especially if you buy two for the price of one or opt for “hack” versions of your kitchen staples. In our recipe blog, we will give you a five-day, kid-friendly menu that ingredient stacks, but here we’ll provide just a few examples of how to efficiently ingredient stack.
Stacking fresh produce is one great way to save money and reduce food waste. When you buy a bag of spinach, a head of lettuce and a half head of cabbage, the chances of getting through all of that before it goes bad is nearly impossible, unless you plan to eat the same recipe multiple times a week (how boring!). Instead, you could substitute and stack. Both spinach and cabbage (as well as kale, collard and brussels) are great raw in salads, as well as cooked in stir frys and bakes. Using cabbage in replace of lettuce for a cobb salad, and sautéed in chow mein, and as filler for tacos, means you can use up a whole head in a week (if you also use it in wraps for school, and in coleslaws, in scrambled eggs — really, a cabbage head is like the magic pudding, it just keeps giving). This way, you save money and reduce food waste by not having to buy multiples of ingredients you won’t use up.
Pre-flavoured sausages like our Lamb, Mint and Rosemary signature sausages don’t only make great bangers, they also make a delicious filling for shepherd pie, rissoles for elevated cheeseburgers and mince for tacos. With a little dedication, chicken breasts can become schnitzels for an at-home parmy, strips for honey soy garlic stir fry and cubed for one-pan vegetable and chicken bakes. Fish is great grilled for tacos, tenderly cooked in Indian curry and crumbed for classic fish and chips. We could go on and on, but you get it, right?
As we mentioned, meal prep is not necessary for ingredient stacking but it can be helpful to batch cook ingredients that’ll appear in a similar form in multiple dishes. For example, mince can be cooked with simply onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and frozen in portions until it is needed. Then, it just needs to be recooked with specific spices for tacos, spaghetti bolognese or meat and served. Chicken and fish can be prepped with crumbs, brines and marinades. Sacrificing a few hours one afternoon, teaching your kids to cook and enjoying some quality time with your spouse, can fill your freezer with ready-to-defrost meals that make the week even easier. Preparing and ingredient-stacking can reduce food waste, time, money and stress without sacrificing on good taste and good ingredients.
Check out our 5-day, kid-friendly, ingredient stacked meal plan for some more ideas on how to take advantage of ingredient stacking.