This stew is a real time saver, it's just the right amount and every batch tastes fresh

If beef stew is prepared in a large batch and portions are frozen for later, the freezing makes the veggies lose their firm texture and freshness.

As a retiree who's learning to cook and really loves stew I've found a great way to improve this situation. Pre-cook the meat only then use a small amount as a base for that night and freeze similar portions for later meals. Beef can be eye of round, chuck steak or even sirloin.

For the pre-cooked meat, cut up about 2 lbs. of beef into 3/4  inch size cubes. Chop two medium onions and fry in coconut oil in a large pot for a few minutes until onions are transparent, then add the meat and stir. Once the meat is browned, add an inch or so of water, salt and pepper and flavoring such as Oxo or Marmite. Simmer for about an hour until meat is tender (sirloin may take less time). Voila, you have your base.

For this nights meal, take about 15 or so cubes of meat with a bit of the juice and put into a medium sized pot. (When it's cooled down, place similar portions into freezer containers for later meals see freezer meals ). Cut up the vegetables - two medium potatoes, two medium carrots, a small turnip and a handful of mushrooms are a good combination - and add to the pot. Bring the water level up to just below the top of the vegetables. Bring slowly to the boil then turn to simmer. Add frozen peas, if desired, and cook until the vegetables are softened but not over cooked.  Herbs such as Rosemary, Bay leaf, Thyme or Herbs de Provence can add an interesting flavor.

This small batch can be thickened slightly by adding two table spoons of cereal oats quickly ground fine in a coffee grinder. Sprinkle over stir them in and allow five to ten minutes to thicken on low, stirring occasionally.

It’s possible to save some left-overs from this single batch for the next day if there’s only one of you eating - but it's hard to do!

Frozen stew

For subsequent suppers place a portion of the frozen, pre-cooked base in a medium sized pot, add a little water and heat on low until the meat and juice are fully thawed then proceed with ingredients as above.

Using the frozen meat portions for later meals is where the time saving really kicks in - it's so quick and easy. You can also experiment with different vegetables and herbs and of course, different meats.

Fresh tasting stew - every time!

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