Dear future me: 5 make ahead dinners to prep before term gets hard

New year, new me? 

This is effectively what I tell myself not only at the start of the year but also at the start of each term, specifically in terms of my cooking habits. 

Every term, I tell myself this will be ‘the term’ – the term I will eat well, keep a full fridge and make a conscious effort to make dinners an event instead of a rush bowl of pasta around 10 pm before returning to yet another essay. But if I’m being honest, this is yet to happen for an entire term. Usually, I start strong and think, ‘Maybe I’ll do it this time’, but by the time week six rolls around, the last thing I feel I have the capacity to think of is what to make for dinner, let alone actually dedicating the time to go grocery shopping (big Tesco!?!) and then actually making it downstairs to the kitchen and making a half decent meal. 

But now, I’m done trying to fool myself, and I’ve realised I need to adopt habits that will actually work for me, even if they don’t match the ideal I’ve fabricated in my head. 

It would seem that the only hope I have is to cook in bulk (and by bulk, I mean BULK, enough to feed a family of ten for a week) when I still have the time and energy, and fill my freezer. Essentially make my present self cook yummy and nutritious meals that require some effort in the initial instance, but require almost nothing for my future self – just as easy as the 10 pm bowl of pasta but ten times better. 

Here are five of my holy grail recipes that I could eat forever, freeze well and aren’t that difficult to make. 

Sausage Pasta 

While you might see this and wonder why I’m including a pasta sauce when I’ve specifically said I’m trying to avoid late-night pasta, the truth is, this is an unrealistic expectation. I love pasta and it makes me happy. This sauce is easy to make and manages to elevate a staple meal. 


  • Onion 
  • Celery (optional) 
  • Carrot (optional) 
  • Garlic 
  • Sausage 
  • Tinned whole tomatoes 
  • Chili flakes 
  • Oregano (optional) 
  • Rosemary (optional) 
  • Balsamic (optional) 
  • Cream 


  • Heat some olive oil in a pan over a medium heat 
  • Throw in a chopped onion, celery and/or carrot if you have/want (just onion is fine) and some chilli flakes 
  • Leave to soften for 10-15 minutes but don’t let it brown and add some garlic for the last 30 seconds 
  • While the onion is cooking, take the sausage out of its casing with some scissors and mash the meat on a plate 
  • Once the onion and garlic is soft, add the meat to the pan and turn up the heat to brown the meat 
  • You can also add dried herbs at this point – dried oregano and/or fresh rosemary chopped up 
  • Once the meat is brown add a tin of whole tomatoes and let it gently bubble away 
  • Turn the heat down, cover slightly and leave until it comes to a nice consistency – anything from 30 minutes to an hour
  • Add balsamic vinegar if you want, some cream and water from the cooked pasta 

Falafel Burgers 

These simple falafel burgers are one of my favourite meals, with only a few minutes of prep time, they are perfect to prep ahead of time and pull out of the freezer as and when you need. Throw in the oven along with some sweet potatoes and you have yourself a full meal. 


  • Chickpeas (You can use either tinned or dry chickpeas for this recipe, though officially it ‘should’ be dried. If you choose to use dried, soak them for a day beforehand, but in all honesty tinned is fine.)
  • Shallot or small onion 
  • Spices (cumin, harissa and salt) 
  • Baking powder
  • Flour 
  • Egg 


  • Drain chickpeas dry them on a tea towel and put them in a blender 
  • Add a chopped shallot or small onion and some garlic 
  • Add some spices (this is a choose-your-own-adventure but I like some cumin, harissa and salt) and a teaspoon of baking powder 
  • Blend the mix – you don’t want them entirely broken up, but just roughly mixed 
  • Before it gets too mushy, empty into a bowl and add some flour and an egg to help bind everything together 
  • Form into patties
  • To cook, drizzle some olive oil over top and cook in the oven at 200C for 20 minutes, flipping halfway (you can cook on a frying pan, but frankly the oven is much easier and crisps them nicely) 


Perfect while we are still in the middle of cold and dark winter nights, and versatile enough that you won’t get sick of them. Here are two of my go-to recipes, but play around with them and get creative to keep it interesting. 

Spicy Sweet Potato and Pepper Soup 

Cavalo Nero 


One of my staple meals from last term, this peperonata is perfect to use as a kind of base and adapt to your desires. I love using it as a pasta sauce, on chicken or fish, or putting it on toast with some ricotta and greens. 


  • Peppers (any colour other than green) 
  • Tin of whole tomatoes (or chopped, either is fine) 
  • Onion 
  • Garlic 
  • Balsamic 
  • Chili flakes 


  • Warm some olive oil in a pan 
  • Throw in a chopped onion and some chilli flakes 
  • Leave to soften for 10-15 minutes but don’t let it brown and add some garlic for the last 30 seconds 
  • While the onion is cooking, slice the peppers into strips
  • Once the onion is done add them into the pan and the tomatoes with a splash of the balsamic and a bit of salt 
  • Bring to a gentle simmer, slightly cover with a lid, and leave on a low heat for up to an hour 


Featured Image: Dana Tentis on Pexels 

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