as autumn leaves take full colour and full flight, things really start heating up in the kitchen – it’s open season for hearty slow-cooked dinners. Last year I discovered the joy of double batching – two casseroles or slow-cookers going at once… one for now and another for later. My Italian mother-in-law Rita opened up this door to me. She always batch cooks lasagne – at least two at a time: one for the family on the weekend, when the grandkids visit; and then we all flip coins for the second one. Everyone knows it’s even better the second time round, after a day or two in the fridge. And how nice is it to come home with nothing more to do than pop a delicious home-cooked meal in the oven? This issue’s full of amazing make-ahead dishes that can be made from two days up to three months ahead, including our meltingly tender Slow-cooked Beef & Gnocchi Bake cover recipe, page 16 – have it ready-cooked in your freezer for a busy weeknight, or take a leaf from Rita and make two!