A couple of days ago a friend of mine from high school posted on her facebook page that she was needing make ahead meal ideas. I gave her a LOT of ideas of my own, but also asked on my facebook pages for ideas. A lot of ideas and recipes came from friends, so I wanted to compile all of those ideas (as well as some new ideas that I have come up with since originally posting on my friend’s thread on facebook).
So, here are all of the ideas that were shared with first names and last initial to give credit, but still protect identity of my personal friends 🙂
First, here is the status that started the whole thing……I know that so many of us can relate to this plea!
Omg..this schedule of mine has got to give..I am gaining so much darn weight because of the late nights and late eating and grabbing TB drive thru at 10:30 pm for dinner..I saw a picture of me and ew…not pretty…anyone have some ideas for make ahead meals?
Here are the ideas that I originally gave my friend:
- here are some basics that I try to keep on hand….but you can also check my blog to see if you can get inspiration there. I keep cooked taco meat, and cooked refried beans (or canned…..depending on whether or not someone has had a sale:) and tortillas and grated cheese in “kits” in my freezer. Add lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream and maybe a slice of avocado or two and a tossed salad and you’ve got a homemade taco dinner. When chicken breasts are on sale I marinate them overnight, then grill a bunch up and freeze individually. Can use them in salads, sandwiches, pasta, or just as a chicken breast…..rice pilaf freezes great, as does fried rice. OR you can make or buy the bags of frozen rice, add some soy sauce, chicken breast (or pork loin or whatever) and mixed veggies, and you’ve got a chicken or pork fried rice. Winco has bags of frozen cheese raviolis for not too expensive, I keep jars of pasta sauce on hand at all times, and bags of grated mozzarella cheese. You have an instant lasagna that will bake in 30 minutes, OR you can boil them and serve them with the sauce in 10.
- you can also premake meatballs and combine them with sweet & sour sauce over rice (again, make it ahead and freeze or buy the frozen bags at the store), or pasta sauce over pasta, or jarred or packs of beef gravy with mushrooms that you can cook ahead and freeze and put over mashed potatoes.
- One more thing that I always keep on hand is the preformed hamburger patties….not the healthiest, but it is a 10 minute lunch or dinner and combined with a big green salad or frozen veggies, you have a halfway decent dinner.
- Oh! Some other ideas that I just thought of….I do this every morning because we are home all day, eating at home all day, but you could do it once a week or twice a week…. cut up a bunch of fruit and put it in a tupperware container for quick snacks or a side dish to go with dinner. Also I keep carrot sticks and celery sticks in the fridge at all times for instant snacks or an instant veggie side dish. Instead of buying bags of salad, which are expensive and have chemicals in them to keep the salad fresh longer, a couple of times a week when I’m making salads, I’ll make a BIG ONE and put it into a ziplock bag and squeeze all the air out….will last for several days to a week, and without any chemicals (as long as you don’t put tomatoes in it). I also make a potato salad or macaroni salad or pasta salad once a week to use throughout the week for lunches or side dishes.
Those were MY ideas originally….. here are the ideas of my friends from Facebook with credit given, but identities protected 🙂
- From Rebecca G a momma of 2 beautiful little girls–Cranberry Chicken – Chicken breasts laid out in a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour over a packet of onion soup mix. Top with a fruit/salad dressing – Choose from these 3 options: 1) jar of apricot jam mixed up with a bottle of Catalina dressing 2) can of whole berry cranberry sauce dolloped over the chicken and topped with Catalina dressing (1/2-whole bottle) 3) the whole berry cran sauce again, but with light italian dressing instead. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until done. The “toppings” can really stretch over a lot of chicken if you want to make more in a 10×14. Serve with rice and veg. So easy and people think it’s fancy. 🙂
- From Tricia B. a mommy of 3—2 adult children and 1 precious 7 year old son–Chicken in wine sauce (crock pot). Chicken breasts, 1 can of onion soup (I use the dry with water added), 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup of wine. Cook on low 6-8 hours. I serve over egg noodles, but you could serve it over rice or mashed potatoes. This is such an easy recipe, and very delicious. It is a family favorite!
- Another from Rebecca G. –Chicken/Stove Top Recipe: Boneless skinless chicken breasts (whole or cut in smaller pieces so they’ll cook faster…), sprinkled with salt and pepper. Combine 1 can of cream of mushroom, celery OR chicken soup with 1/3 c. sour cream, and spread that over chicken. Top with a box of stuffing, prepared according to package directions. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. If you want to include veggies in it, you can use frozen mixed veggies or broccoli and just put them in with the chicken, covering it all with the soup sauce. I’ve also used fresh broccoli, and I love that, but it sometimes comes out a little more “al dente”. 🙂 note from Lori, I have made this for several years and it is a family favorite!
- from Barbara T, a mom to 2 adult children and grandma to 2 with 3rd on the way– e-meals!! I love e-meals.com!! for $21 for 3 months, you get 7 dinner menus per week, and a grocery list. There are options for all kinds of dietary needs. One shop grocery list, read through, plan which ones to make and how long it will take, then do it!!!
- Kathi H, a homeschooling momma of 5 posted–Here are a couple of websites with lots of makeahead recipes….my personal advice is to store in ziplocks as much as possible (more freezer room) and don’t precook anything you don’t have to–just dump ingred in a ziplock with reciple between inner and outer ziplock (dbl bag), for quick assembly/cooking when ready–also cook double of any meal and freeze the rest.http://food.families.com/blog/freezer-cooking-chicken-recipes andhttp://www.frugalmom.net/blog/in-the-kitchen/frugal-recipes/once-a-month-cooking-chicken-recipes/
- Deanne S., a homeschooling mommy of 4 posted– http://pregnant.livejournal.com/17071127.html
- And Shirlene W. posted– I use Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and now Comfy in the Kitchen for make ahead recipes. I like to make up taco meat for the freezer, have cooked up lose burger for a quick meal such as burger and rice, burger with a can of cream of mushroom soup and half can milk, warm then put over mashed taters or noodles or even bread. I have buffalo chicken meat in the freezer for salads or on a tortilla.
Now, some of the ideas that I have come up with since the weekend. Planned leftovers! What a GREAT way to have make ahead meals for the coming week. Here are 3 ideas, and I will post the recipes for the main item from each idea in the next day or so.
- 3 day roasted chicken (I make a really yummy roasted chicken that has a crispy skin like rotisserie chicken, but you certainly could grab a rotisserie chicken from Costco or the local grocer–get the biggest one you can) Day 1 you’ll eat the chicken as a meal itself. Keep any and all bones, and whatever is left. Day 2, pick off the bigger chunks of meat and make tacos or burritos (stretching the chicken with black beans or refried beans), or chicken salad for chicken salad sandwiches. Day 3, take all of those bones with the little tiny shreds of meat still left on the carcass put them in a big pot, add 2 celery stocks roughly chopped, 1 onion–roughly chopped, 2 carrots–roughly chopped, salt and pepper to taste, a handful of fresh parsley, 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, cover it all with water and put on the stovetop to simmer for several hours or in the crockpot overnight. When you have a wonderful flavorful chicken broth strain all of the bones and now over-cooked veggies and herbs away from the liquid gold 🙂 Use that homemade broth to make a vegetable and lentil stew and you can add some KILLER dumplings to make even more special (another crockpot meal, or 30-40 minute dinner).
- Make a big beef roast–Day 1, roast beef dinner with all the fixings. Day 2, shredded beef burritos or tacos or shredded beef mixed with teriyaki sauce and made into a sub sandwich (we like these with a pineapple slice on top). Day 3, breakfast for dinner….roast beef hash (use up the leftover potatoes, carrots, etc from the original roast beef dinner), cut it all up and fry it in a heavy skillet until it is hot all the way through and crispy on both sides. Serve with a fried egg and a slice of toast or biscuit and a bowl of fruit.
- Slow cook a pork shoulder roast (I prefer them to be bone in because it adds more flavor and a little more moisture) in the crockpot or in a dutch oven in the oven. Day 1–pull some of the pork and make pulled pork sandwiches with bbq sauce and coleslaw. Day 2, add some green chilis or green chili salsa or chipotle salsa/hot sauce with some orange juice mixed in for carnitas or chile verde tacos or burritos. Day 3–Cut up any remaining pork into cubes and use it as the meat base for a taco soup or a green (or white) chili.
(Recipes for the roasted chicken, beef roast, and pork shoulder roast will follow in the next day or two).
If any of my blog readers have any additional ideas to help my friend with her plea for make ahead meals, please post them here!