It’s not always easy to get meals on the table especially when you are tired after a long busy day. As I am getting ready to have a baby soon I am happy to share some of my secrets to Make-Ahead Meal Success.
Make-ahead meals are essential to any kitchen that feeds a busy lifestyle. When you have a few tried and true meals that are always ready to go you will never worry about what is for dinner again.
Make-ahead meals work best when they are in the portion size you need, so they defrost quickly and are at the point of “heat and serve”. Not to say that crock-pot meals do not fall into this category but the problem with crock-pot meals is they still require lots of advance thought, allowing them to thaw and cook for 6-8 hours. Our goal is to eliminate all extra thought and work to the absolute minimum, because when you are running late and hungry – it is already too late. The secret to success is in the storage and packaging of items for easy use.
These techniques are perfect to help those tired new moms, gifts for those who are sick, and anyone with a busy lifestyle who wants to get a homemade dinner on the table quickly.
(individually packaged frozen soups)
Homemade soup and chili are great to have on hand. Storing them flat in individual servings makes for quick thawing and saves space in the freezer by stacking them.
Try my Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.
Ready-Made Meals for One or Many:
(Frozen Lasagna Rolls)
As an entrée I love to have Lasagna Rolls on hand as they are simple enough for children and fancy enough for a dinner party.
The key is to make and freeze in individual portions you can take out just enough for one or enough for a party if needed.
Complete Meal with No Dishes:
Some days just the thought of “what’s for dinner” can be too much. It’s great to have a few Complete Meal options ready to go that are just “heat and serve”. Even better portion these into foil pans so you don’t even have to worry about extra dishes.
Chicken and Broccoli Cheese Casserole is a perfect ready-made complete meal.
(Label, date and put cooking instructions on freezer packages for easy use)
Always label and date the package so you know what it is but I suggest taking it one step further and writing the cooking instructions directly on the package so you don’t have to think about it later making for easy husband help.
Dessert: Apple Pie in an Instant
I always make the apple pies for my family holidays but the last thing I want to do when I have a newborn baby is chop apples.
(Apple pie baked and prep for freezer apple pie)
So instead my pies are actually already prepared. You can buy apples when they are fresh and on sale getting the best quality and saving money, then mix the filling in advance and freeze it separately. Again I freeze it flat so it thaws quickly the only thing I need to do is dump this in a piecrust and put it in the oven. I will never prepare just one pie; I always process enough apples for at least 2-3 so I can have homemade pies whenever I need them.
(Apple Pie, get the recipe here).