Do you have shortcuts that help keep you organized during the week? One of mine is cooking ahead in two ways: meals that can be reheated for the week and freezer meals. Let me give you a peek into dinner time at my house. I leave work at 5:30pm to pick up my daughters, get home around 6:30pm, then it’s time for a rushed dinner before my one-year-old goes to bed at 7pm. Are you doing the math? That means I need to both cook and eat dinner in 30 minutes. Does that seem impossible without picking up something from a fast food restaurant? It isn’t. Let me tell you what we do.
Even though we have very little time, it’s still important to me that we eat healthy foods on a regular basis. So, we end up cooking ahead. Almost every weekend, we end up cooking 2-3 meals, typically on Sunday. If we’re smart about what kinds of meals they are and how long they will keep, we can get from Monday through Thursday with the things we’ve made. I say if we’re smart because you don’t want to eat a seafood dish that you made on Sunday by the time Wednesday rolls around!
Here are a few of my favorite cook ahead meals that are great reheated:
– Honey-Chipotle Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches
– Penne with Sausage, Eggplant, and Feta
– Chipotle Bean Burritos (make the filling ahead)
– Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs
– Pulled pork
– Pear prosciutto pizza (make onion ahead)
– Spinach artichoke pasta (I recommend adding some minced garlic for more flavor)
So, what happens later in the week when we’ve run out of meals or they are no longer good? That’s when freezer meals come in. I am not fancy when it comes to freezer meals. I mainly stick to homemade spaghetti sauce, chili, soup, enchiladas, or lasagna frozen in portions that work for either one or two dinners. The two dinner portions give us either a lunch or another dinner.
For sauces and soups, I save them in plastic freezer bags. I like to have the bulk of the soup or sauce at the bottom to make it easier to stick it in a bowl in the initial defrosting I do in the microwave. They also stack easily in the freezer. For enchiladas or lasagna, I put it in foil pans and take the foil pan out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator the day before I want to use it for dinner. That way it defrosts and is ready to go into the oven immediately when I get home.
Some freezer-friendly meals I like:
And that’s it! Do you have any shortcuts that you do to make the week easier? Freezer meals you love? I’d love to hear them!