Make-ahead meals are a gift to yourself that still nourishes your family. By planning ahead, prepping and stocking the freezer, you’ll be ready to serve dinner, even on a busy day with a few simple cooking strategies. From weekend prep to batch cooking, we have tips you can utilize for everyday meal planning.
1. Weekend Prep
Weekend prep is the entry level to batch cooking. Go grocery shopping and spend an hour or two on the weekend prepping everything for the week. Use our themed meal plans to help with your menu.
- Clean and pre-cut all your veggies and place them in Ziploc bags.
- Make a large batch of rice.
- Grill or roast extra chicken to add to salads and pizzas.
- Cook 2 pounds ground beef and divide. Freeze half and refrigerate half.
- Pre-slice meat and chicken for stir fry. Place in individual Ziploc bags and freeze for later in the week.
Tangerine Chicken Stir Fry (exclusive to The Good Stuff!) — Serves 4
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- Zest and juice of 1 tangerine
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
- 1/2 cup tangerine segments
Mix together garlic, ginger, tangerine, soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch. Set aside. Heat sesame oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and sauce until cooked through. Remove to platter. Add vegetables and cook for two minutes. Add sauce, tangerines and chicken. Cook until heated and thickened. Serve over rice.
Other good weekend prep meals:
- Farro with Chicken & Marinara – The Good Stuff
- Shrimp Pasta – KitchMe
- Chicken & Pepper Fajitas – KitchMe
2. Cook Once, Double the Recipe
By doubling a recipe you get another meal in the same amount of time. Make a big batch and freeze half for the following week.
Chicken Parmesan Meatball Casserole
Source: The Good Stuff
Other good doubled up recipes:
3. Slow Cooker Freezer Prep Kits
Source: Hello Natural
Freezer kits make weeknight meals super easy. Prep your meat and veggies and place in a Ziploc bag to freeze. Pull out the desired slow cooker meal the night before and thaw in the fridge. Then dump the packet in the slow cooker when you’re ready to eat it.
Make sure to label what you freeze. Most food is best used within 90 days of being frozen. Our label will help you track that and remember what you put in the bag. You can later take out the food and read the cooking instructions.
Time-saving tip: Use frozen veggies and frozen chicken or shrimp. Open the original containers and place them in your meal freezer bags. Add remaining ingredients, label and freeze.
Good slow cooker meals:
4. Dump & Go Recipes
Lemon Garlic Chicken
Source: One Good Thing by Jillee
These are an easy form of freezer meals. Similar to the slow cooker prep kits above, you can build gallon freezer bags with all the ingredients, take them out the night before to thaw and then dump everything into a baking pan.
Good dump & go recipes:
5. Cook with Friends
Turn a chore into a party. Invite a few friends to a cooking night where you cook five dishes together and everyone goes home with five ready-to-go freezer meals for the week.
Other good take-home meals to cook with friends:
What are some of your favorite cooking ahead tips? We would love to have you share your go-to tip for make-ahead meals in the comments below.