I love to cook.  Coming from a family of die-hard foodies, I’ve never had any problem finding people to cook for, but lately the issue has become: “what to cook?”  You can only go through so many terakihi and chips (Monday), spaghetti bolognaise (Tuesday), and butter chickens (Wednesday) before the 5pm groans begin to make themselves more audible. Let’s face it, as society has moved towards ‘convenience culture’, our creativity in the kitchen has suffered.  As our lives become busier, we’re spending more time at the desk, less time with the family and even less time thinking about what’s for dinner (good in some ways, not so good in others).  What used to be a time for the family to gather and socialise at the end of the day has, for many, become a staid and uninspiring woof-down before we settle into an evening of television (or more work!).

As you might have gathered from my previous blogs, I find that if there’s not something new and exciting going on, I am prone to get a bit bored with things.  Luckily, with the birth of (now 7 month old) Thomas, I’ve done a pretty good of staving off the boredom.  However, the days before his arrival were something else – I was craving some excitement.  With that in mind, I decided to write a business plan for a new concept I’d been toying with.  Six months later, My Food Bag was launched in Auckland.

My Food Bag is simple.   New, innovative and easy-to-cook meals are drawn up each week by Nadia Lim (2011 Masterchef winner) – we pack the ingredients into bags and send them out to our subscribers’ homes.  Better yet, it’s not going to break the bank.  For a family of four, it breaks down to around $8.95 per person – with lots of tasty leftovers for lunch and snacks.

It has been a whirlwind ride over the past few months, but we’re now well into the swing of things with our delivery drivers zipping around Auckland each Sunday and Monday evening.  Our little family of four (my husband James, our Au Pair Julia and 7 month year old Tom) have been having a lot of fun around dinner time, taking turns to prepare these quick and easy meals (at this stage Tom is just watching the excitement).  We’ve even been having mini-competitions to see who has the best presentation skills!

With a few more ‘out there’ ingredients in the mix and recipes we trust you will love, My Food Bag has already received some glowing feedback from our customers – we’re even receiving ideas on Twitter (@MyFoodBag) on what kinds of bags people are looking for.  It is exciting to be on-the-pulse with our customers.  Similarly, we’ve been loving seeing pictures of everyone’s creations.  Needless to say, there’s no need to worry about what’s for dinner again!

Here’s a My Food Bag recipe that’s sure to please!

BEEF, EGGPLANT AND RICOTTA LASAGNE

Ingredients:las

2 large eggplants, sliced into 1cm-thick
rounds
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g lean beef mince
½cup tomato paste
2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried herbs or oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
500g soft ricotta cheese1 cup grated cheese + extra ¼cup for
sprinkling
4 large sheets fresh lasagne

GARDEN SALAD

Leaves of 1 fancy lettuce, chopped
4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
½small red onion, thinly sliced
Salad dressing or vinaigrette

Method:

PREHEAT oven to 180degC. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
1 Arrange eggplant slices on prepared baking trays, drizzle over 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Bake for 15 minutes until soft and lightly browned.
2 Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large fry pan or pot on medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until soft (3-4 minutes). Add beef mince and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring to break up the mince. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, dried herbs and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3 Mix 1 cup grated cheese with the ricotta.
4 To assemble lasagne, spread ½ cup of the ricotta mixture on the base of a large square or rectangular baking dish (about 24-26cm wide). Lay a lasagne sheet on top (you may need to cut sheets to fit), then pour over 2 cups tomato mince sauce to cover evenly. Arrange half the eggplant slices on top, slightly overlapping. Spoon ¾ cup of ricotta mixture on top of the eggplant. Cover with another sheet of lasagne. Repeat process once more so that you have two full layers of mince, eggplant and ricotta, ending with a final sheet of lasagne on top. Spread over remaining ricotta mixture and sprinkle over extra grated cheese. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly on top.
5 Toss all salad ingredients together, dress with vinaigrette/dressing. STAND lasagne for 10-15 minutes before serving (this will allow it to set so that it is not so sloppy when you cut into it). Serve with garden salad.

Serves 6 / Freezes well.

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Cecilia Robinson, founder of My Food Bag, and Au Pair Link, is one of New Zealand's most successful female CEOs. Cecilia's business awards include: 'Her Business Best New Business award' in 2009, 'Businesswoman of the Year 2012’, ‘Best SME 2012’ and 'Supreme Winner of the Woman of Influence Programme' in 2017.

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