Author Topic: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?  (Read 6101 times)

Auburn73

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Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« on: October 31, 2019, 02:47:04 PM »
Hi!

Really new here, but have been reading and learning from everyone's posts! Not sure if I'm posting my question in the right forum.

One (of the probably many) area I need to improve on is meal planning. I work 12-hr days, and by the time I'm off work I'm so tired that I'm overly tempted to go out to eat with my family or swing through a drive thru. Not only can this be bad for the waistline, but also unhealthy for the budget when done in excess. Fortunately I love cooking and we enjoy a variety of different foods. Also I'm blessed with a wonderful husband who pretty much eats whatever I put in front of him, lol.

My strategies for family meals on days that I work have been fairly hit and miss. Sometimes I'm organized enough to prepare a large meal or two during my days off and purposefully have plenty of leftovers to carry us through a night or so that I work. Several dishes seem even better the next day, such as chili, etc. Sometimes I keep things on hand to quickly pull together a meal with 30 minutes or less of cooking time on a day that I work. For instance, when a family pack of ground beef goes on sale (got some today for $1.79/lb!) I'll brown it all at once, drain, and freeze in meal-size portions so I can pull it out later and throw it into spaghetti, soups, casseroles, etc. Then anything I make with it can be prepared very quickly (added bonus is less dishes to wash later). To summarize, I can somewhat prepare dinners ahead of time for my long work days, which include dishes such as meatloaf, casseroles, enchiladas, soups, and so forth. When I haven't meal prepped ahead of time, I can usually make pastas, soup & sandwiches, or almost snack type things such as beefy nachos, etc. But too often I stand in the kitchen around 8 pm or so opening my fridge/cabinets, perusing the items inside, and shutting them back again without a clue about what to prepare for several minutes at a time. I'm working now on being more organized, and this will include meal planning.

Now to get to my question: For those of you who perhaps cook on weekends to last through the week or any other type of cooking in advance, what are your favorite meals to make ahead? I need some food for thought (pun intended, lol).

Tass

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2019, 03:15:47 PM »
I love the Good and Cheap cookbook, with my favorites for reheating being chana masala and polenta: https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf

This week we are eating the leftovers of this delicious lentil recipe - we doubled it and it came out slightly too liquidy, fyi: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/coconut-lentils-with-rice/

I am hoping to cut down food spending next month so I also look forward to this thread.

Auburn73

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2019, 03:31:22 PM »
I love the Good and Cheap cookbook, with my favorites for reheating being chana masala and polenta: https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf

This week we are eating the leftovers of this delicious lentil recipe - we doubled it and it came out slightly too liquidy, fyi: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/coconut-lentils-with-rice/

I am hoping to cut down food spending next month so I also look forward to this thread.

That cookbook looks amazing! Also can hardly wait to try the Coconut Lentils with Rice...have nearly all the ingredients on hand already!

Good luck on cutting down food spending! Hopefully we'll get lots of ideas! :)

Cranky

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2019, 03:57:09 PM »
A pot of pinto beans cooked into refried beans makes nacho salad or burritos.

I'm actually involved in a project that makes freezer meals for student veterans. We do a lot of noodle casseroles, but also French toast casserole, chili, soup, stuff like that.

I like to grill a bunch of chicken breasts and then make salad or tacos or stir fry or soup.

socaso

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2019, 04:58:53 PM »
Ellie Krieger has a great make ahead cookbook "You've got it Made" Some really good recipes. Also I'm a big fan of making a huge batch of something in the slow cooker and splitting the leftovers up into freezer bags for future meals. Because there are 3 in my family I can often get 3 meals out of one slow cooker batch.

Systems101

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2019, 05:00:33 PM »
Now to get to my question: For those of you who perhaps cook on weekends to last through the week or any other type of cooking in advance, what are your favorite meals to make ahead? I need some food for thought (pun intended, lol).

I'm a huge user of my FoodSaver.  From another thread:

I eat a lot out of my freezer. 

[snip]

- I pre-cook and store various meats, especially Turkey and Chicken.  I freeze both in vacuum sealed "bags" (actually from the roll and I cut it to the required size).  Both are frozen under broth, approx 1-2 tsp per 4oz of cooked meat (I generally put in 2tsp, but a bunch of that is sucked out in the sealing process).  The Turkey from its own juices, and the Chicken from either a boil of the bones, et al, or from a 50c can of commercial broth that covers a good dozen chicken breasts.
- I vacuum seal portions of fully cooked mashed potatoes (already high liquid content - note I don't add milk or butter before freezing) and partially cooked rice [made with 2/3 of recipe's water and frozen while still undercooked, then add 1Tsp water per 4oz rice - the microwave finishes the cooking job during reheating]

[snip]

One other note: reheat on 30-50% power.  Microwaves have "hot spots" and water absorbs the waves more easily than ice, so the part that melts first will heat up even more.  The "off times" allow the heat to distribute and in my experience will improve the quality of the reheated food.

I have gotten into putting the chicken & rice together in a package with the water, then they all reheat together.  I do the same with steak & corn (vacuum sealed with about 1Tbsp melted butter).

I also make turkey noodle soup (the spare parts when I cook a full turkey).

Net is I can cook like 8 chicken breasts (or whatever) - which isn't that much longer than cooking one - and then cut them up, etc.  3.5 oz meat with whatever the "side" is, if it's rice I use 1/3 cup (precooked) of the rice per container.  (I have a $10 kitchen scale that lets me cook 2 cups of rice and split it 6 ways with ease).  It makes me crazy-chicken-buying guy at the grocery store when it's on sale, but it means I'm eating good meals without the regular retail expense.

The additional work does take some time (so the net savings isn't huge), but it's really effective at time-shifting, which is in effect what you are looking to achieve.

habanero

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2019, 05:34:41 PM »
The key to efficient everyday cooking isn't to batch-cook a fuckload of food during weekends or anything similar. It's having a reasonably large array of dishes/meals you can cook up on the fly without having to think, consult a recipe or anything else which is time-consuming. It's being able to work with whatever is in the fridge or the freezer and on shelves and in the cupboards. That's also how you minimize food waste. Soggy vegs galroe? Time to make some soup. You forgot the avocados and some lime you bought because they were cheap? It's something that goes with guacamole today.

Some dishes make a lot of sense to batch-cook because the actual cooking takes a lot of time, like say a proper chili, a big pot of stock or a batch of ragu or pulled pork. But in the time it takes to boil potatoes, boil pasta, rice or whatever there is an awful lot of stuff you can do. You just need to know how to do it. And meal planning always helps, of course.

Like everything else in life cooking is a skill. It needs to be learnt do it properly. Pre-boiled rice is a time-saver. It's not a money saver and for sure it ain't cooking. It tastes shit and the texture is way off. Noone should eat pre-boiled rice. Proper rice is cheaper and tastes better if cooked properly. If you have extra rice after a meal you make fried rice with whatever else is left over.

If you take any reasonably run restaurant the overall concept is to make the maximum amount of yumminess with the minimum amount of money, time and produce cost invested to make the dishes. Next time at a crash & burn but good restaurant take a look at what they do. You should probably do some of the same at home.

Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2019, 05:42:00 PM »
We eat a lot of hearty soups in our house, tomato-veg-beef, multibean, lentil, minestrone. I make it in big batches and then freeze meal size portions in flat ziploc bags so they can stack in freezer. I buy good bread, slice it up and wrap it in foil and freeze so it's easy to reheat. I'm a big fan of frozen meatballs, you can make subs, eat with pasta, or serve it with rice.

Auburn73

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2019, 08:11:36 PM »
Thanks everyone! These are all such great ideas! This is exactly what I'm needing to help make dinner much easier on my work days!

NV Teacher

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2019, 07:35:31 AM »

Raenia

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2019, 07:44:38 AM »
Any time I make soup or stew, I double the batch and freeze the extra.  Household favorites that are full meals (or with rice/bread):

- 3 bean chili
- lentil stew
- black bean soup
- rosemary white bean soup
- chana masala
- chicken or turkey noodle soup

I also like to keep a few lighter soups for nights we're just not that hungry.  These are usually vegetarian soups with no beans/lentils, so they're not as heavy meals.

- vegetable soup
- leek and potato soup
- cream of broccoli soup
- gingered carrot and parsnip soup

I also usually keep potato gnocchi, sausages, and frozen peas.  Always easy to throw together gnocchi and peas, or pasta and sausages.  The gnocchi take some time to make, but I do it on a Sunday and it makes a large batch.  Also homemade pizza dough for pizza Fridays.

horsepoor

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2019, 07:57:46 AM »
I've discovered over time that we vastly prefer freshly prepared food, so I don't try to make entire freezer meals or things like that.  The past few weeks I've been on a schedule that limits my kitchen time during the week to a fairly tight window, so somethings that have been helping:

Make meatballs in a big batch and freeze in portions.  Easy to add a jar of sauce (I canned a batch this summer, but store bought is still cheaper than going out to eat) and some spaghetti squash or pasta.

When whole salmon are on sale, I buy a few, portion out, and put different seasonings on them and freeze.  The fillets thaw quickly and cook in a few minutes.

Make frozen portions of minced garlic in olive oil, and "stirfry starter" which is garlic, ginger and turmeric.

Cut up veggies ahead of time to speed up the process on a weeknight.  Last night we had stirfry.  The night before I cut all the veggies and layered them with the slower-cooking ingredients at the top so that they can be tossed in the pan first.  We had chicken and peanut sauce with it using the stirfry starter.  If I'd pre-sliced the chicken and pre-made the peanut sauce or used a bottle, it would have been even faster.

Cutting the ingredients like that works well for soups and casseroles too, and you still get a nice fresh meal.  I also pre-prep Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, etc.  It's nice to just deal with all the mess once on Sunday instead of making a new mess every night.

When all else fails, I brown some ground beef with cumin and chili powder and we eat it over a salad that's prepared while the meat is cooking, OR in a real pinch we just have some scrambled eggs (which reminds me, fritatta fillings can also be prepared in advance, so all that's needed is to scramble some eggs and pour in a pan and bake).

Mgmny

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2019, 09:19:49 AM »

Make frozen portions of minced garlic in olive oil, and "stirfry starter" which is garlic, ginger and turmeric.


To each their own, but pretty much every Asian chef/stir fry expert will tell you to never use olive oil in asian cuisine. The flavor doesn't complement AND the smoke point is far too low for effective stir frying. If it works for you, then stir fry away, but just offering some opinion in case you want to try a different oil that might make your meal/experience better.

jeninco

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2019, 09:37:43 AM »
We do a combination approach: on Fridays (or Saturday mornings) I'll poll the troops to see if anyone has any particular lunch or dinner requests that can be accommodated. Then I'll look at the weekly grocery flier, and map out 7 dinners (if I have to I'll pull out recipes so I'm sure I haven't forgotten critical components). Then I'll shop: if necessary, I'll note on my list what substitutions are going to be made, based on what's expensive/cheap.

When I get home, the menu goes onto the white board on the fridge (complete with substitution notes). I don't note days, generally, but I try to include one or two dinners that are (or can be) mostly pre-made, one or two that are really quick, and a couple that are ... dinner. (I work from home, so I can spend some minutes here and there during the day.) This gives me some flexibility around events that come up and weather changes.

For instance, last week's menu included:
baked layered tortilla/meat/beans/corn/sauce casserole, avocados (on sale), slaw
green curry squash soup with chicken and bok choi, with rice (in the rice cooker)
veg-heavy beef stew, with brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes
sausage, potato and shallots baked, tossed on top of arugula with a little lemon juice
a pasta thing
a stir-fry thing
indian rice& lentils (this didn't get made, and will be pushed to next week or this weekend for a potluck)

I also make 2X or 3X stews and chilis and sauces, and freeze them. Even if I forget to take them out, they microwave fine. Not enough chili for 3 still makes great nachos for 3 -- be on the lookout for ways to somewhat transform things you've already made!

I have also learned to program my oven to auto-start at a pre-set time, but if you have someone else around, they can also stick a casserole in the oven and turn it on. The crock-pot can also be your friend in the winter.

In summer, we have a lot of room-temperature salads, such as variations of a salad nicoise. If you keep components in the fridge, you only need to cook the meat (and potatoes, if you don't care for re-heated potatoes). There are a ton of warmish pasta/rice/quinoa salads that can also be made ahead.

redhead84

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2019, 09:49:59 AM »
One of my stand-by make ahead ingredients is pulled pork. I make a large pork roast and freeze the meat in smaller portions. When we need a quick meal, I can defrost a bag of pork to make pulled pork sandwiches, cuban sandwiches, pork tacos, pork with roasted potatoes and veggies, etc. depending on the other ingredients I have on hand.

I also cut up a bunch of veggies at the beginning of the week. They can be used for a stir fry, salad, roasted for a side, or snacks throughout the week.

NextTime

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2019, 09:50:38 AM »
I love the Good and Cheap cookbook, with my favorites for reheating being chana masala and polenta: https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf

This week we are eating the leftovers of this delicious lentil recipe - we doubled it and it came out slightly too liquidy, fyi: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/coconut-lentils-with-rice/

I am hoping to cut down food spending next month so I also look forward to this thread.



Going to have to try the coconut lentils. Here's the lentil recipe we usually use:

https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2010/09/hearty-and-spicy-red-lentil-soup-ezo-gelin-corba/

I usually double it and we get several meals out of it. And we usually pour it over rice.
My 8 year-old inhales this stuff.



herbgeek

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2019, 03:23:43 PM »
I like "fresh" cooking as well, so I just make components and freeze, and then mix up dinner quicker.  I make a batch of taco filling (lentils for my vegetarian husband) and freeze them, but then grill the tortillas and add all the fresh veggies.  I also bake pizza shells and thaw and add fresh ingredients.   I typically add a green salad or freshly cooked veggies to a meal.

Tass

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2019, 08:42:34 PM »
I also usually keep potato gnocchi, sausages, and frozen peas.  Always easy to throw together gnocchi and peas, or pasta and sausages.  The gnocchi take some time to make, but I do it on a Sunday and it makes a large batch.  Also homemade pizza dough for pizza Fridays.

Would you share the gnocchi recipe?

horsepoor

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2019, 10:24:43 PM »

Make frozen portions of minced garlic in olive oil, and "stirfry starter" which is garlic, ginger and turmeric.


To each their own, but pretty much every Asian chef/stir fry expert will tell you to never use olive oil in asian cuisine. The flavor doesn't complement AND the smoke point is far too low for effective stir frying. If it works for you, then stir fry away, but just offering some opinion in case you want to try a different oil that might make your meal/experience better.

I dont use the garlic for Asian dishes.  The stirfry starter has just a bit of sesame oil in it.  I use that for Asian dishes.

Good to know I have your permission though.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 10:29:06 PM by horsepoor »

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2019, 05:56:29 AM »
I always have big batch cooked bolognese and beef/bean taco style mix in the freezer. Both are cheap and easy to make from scratch in large batches in a slow cooker, and both are pretty versatile as to how you serve them. I usually also have some kind of large batch pasta bake in there, and some sort of hearty soup. And when I cook quinoa or rice I make tons and freeze in portions. Pretty easy to grab what you feel like for meals or lunches.

The whole meal plan thing really depends on how you eat. For instance, I'm not a fan of a chunk of meat surrounded by some vegetables. I like one pot, slow cooked style stews where the vegetables and meat are cooked together. Or pan bake style things, again with meat and veg cooked together. That lends itself to cooking large batches and freezing. I wouldn't have any idea how the multiple pots and pans on the go type of cooks manage meal planning. Seems like a frickin difficult juggling act to get anything onto a table, frankly. I hardly ever use the elements on my stovetop!

Raenia

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2019, 08:39:14 AM »
I also usually keep potato gnocchi, sausages, and frozen peas.  Always easy to throw together gnocchi and peas, or pasta and sausages.  The gnocchi take some time to make, but I do it on a Sunday and it makes a large batch.  Also homemade pizza dough for pizza Fridays.

Would you share the gnocchi recipe?

Sure!  If I have the freezer space, I double this, but here's the basic recipe:

3 lbs baking potatoes
2 eggs + 1 yolk
2 C flour
2 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped (or dried, ground in a mortar+pestle.  Substitute sage or another herb if you like.)
2 tsp kosher salt

Bake potatoes 1.5-2 hrs at 350F.  Cool slightly, then scoop out insides.  In a bowl, mash with a fork or ricer, then cover with a towel to retain heat (not always necessary if you work fast).  Beat eggs and yolk together in a small bowl.  Add eggs, flour, rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste to potatoes.  Mix until well incorporated and smooth.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly.  Let rest uncovered about 10 min.

Shape gnocchi.  I used to use the fork method (youtube is your friend), but now I have a gnocchi striper board.  Cook immediately by boiling 3 minutes or until they float, or freeze in rows on a tray.  Once gnocchi are frozen (at least overnight, preferably 24 hrs), they can be bagged into serving sizes and stored.  Cook from frozen by pouring directly into boiling water and cooking until they float.

ETA: I think this would work similarly for sweet potato gnocchi, but I haven't tried it yet.  It's on my to-do list!  For sweet potato, I'll use sage instead of rosemary.

Juslookin

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2019, 07:18:13 PM »
We do a combination of fresh cooking and once a month cooking. Today was our monthly cook day and we prepped for the freezer wedding soup, sloppy joes, ham and bean soup, a whole pork butt on the grill for pulled pork, veggie lasagna, pioneer womanís white chicken enchiladas, quinoa breakfast casseroles, oatmeal cranberry cookies and pumpkin waffles.

Our menu for the month includes these items plus stuff weíll make on the fly, grilled chicken, crockpot street tacos, salmon, bean and cheese quesadillas, meat sauce and pasta, breakfast for dinner.

I look at the calendar and meal plan for the entire month based on activities or travel. We try to have ďplanned oversĒ by making enough of something for two nights and we always have a stock of homemade soup in the freezer in individual serving sizes.

Tass

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2019, 09:42:32 AM »
Last night we made this vaguely north african stew: https://www.feastingathome.com/tunisian-chickpea-stew/

We also made this bread with it, which is SO SO EASY: https://alexandracooks.com/2012/11/07/my-mothers-peasant-bread-the-best-easiest-bread-you-will-ever-make/

Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2019, 03:13:32 PM »
Last night we made this vaguely north african stew: https://www.feastingathome.com/tunisian-chickpea-stew/

We also made this bread with it, which is SO SO EASY: https://alexandracooks.com/2012/11/07/my-mothers-peasant-bread-the-best-easiest-bread-you-will-ever-make/

I just bookmarked the stew - it looks pretty amazing and I've got all the ingredients in the pantry or fridge!

Gagnante

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2019, 05:37:12 PM »
Honestly, I find "veggie" prep often takes more work than cooking a protein.  Budget Bytes has a very nice rundown of "refrigerator salads" that can be made up at the beginning of the week and used throughout the week for a very quick and easy no-thought-required side that gets you some good nutrition.  https://www.budgetbytes.com/refrigerator-salads-for-eating-healthy/

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #25 on: November 04, 2019, 05:36:38 PM »
Honestly, I find "veggie" prep often takes more work than cooking a protein.  Budget Bytes has a very nice rundown of "refrigerator salads" that can be made up at the beginning of the week and used throughout the week for a very quick and easy no-thought-required side that gets you some good nutrition.  https://www.budgetbytes.com/refrigerator-salads-for-eating-healthy/

You can do the same with roast veg - bite size bits of potato, onion, carrot, parsnip, pumpkin, beetroot, sweet potato, whatever other root veg you like, roll them in a bowl with a bit of oil and a bit of BBQ seasoning, roast. The result is fantastic with a bit of spinach wilted through, an egg and some peri peri sauce. And the roasties can be frozen in portions and heated up for lunches. Or bake a chicken breast, add some instant gravy and you have a roast meal.

Gagnante

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #26 on: November 04, 2019, 06:05:52 PM »
That sounds delicious!  I wlll definitely keep that idea in mind.

schmerna

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #27 on: November 05, 2019, 12:00:17 PM »
My three techniques:
Eating the same meals at least twice in one week
Keeping easy dinners in the freezer
Having a list of 20 minute dinners of easy stuff


Over the weekend I spent a few hours cooking the three meals we will have this week.

Bigger Batches
Chili  (Monday& Tuesday)
Spaghetti Squash Pie (Wednesday & Thursday)
Lentil Pepperoni Stew (Friday & Saturday)

Burritos
Korean Chicken
Lasagna
Other Casseroles
Lentil Salad
Roasted Root Vegetables
Other Bean Salads
Chicken and Potato Curry

Quick Freezer Items
Meatballs
Quiche
Pizza Crust
Frozen soup

20 Minutes Dinners
Shakshuka
Pasta & Sauce
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Salad with Scallops


When there is a sale on chicken, I buy a bunch, cut it, marinate and freeze it so it is ready to grill.
Give everyone a job.  Little kids can help set the table.  Bigger kids can chop vegetables.  Your partner can help cook.  Everyone can help plan before grocery shopping.

Good luck finding a system and recipes that work for you.

minimustache1985

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2019, 03:10:21 PM »
One of our favorites is budget bytes oven baked fajitas.  It isnít SUPER fast even prepped but is pretty hands off oven time if done ahead.  (Full disclosure I now SAH but I didnít always.)

I cut cup the chicken, onion, and bell peppers and freeze in a one meal portion (or not freeze if prepping just a day or so ahead), and I make the seasoning in bulk (I use the same seasoning mix for tacos and itís great).  If frozen pull out the night before, and once home throw the meat/veggies in a pan and add a few spoonfuls of seasoning and some oil to help it stick/spread.  Throw in the oven and go shower or whatever.  I do turn it since otherwise the top veggies burn and the bottom are soft but not always exactly at the halfway mark, so usually it went mix, toss in oven, go shower, turn/stir, then cut up some avocado/tomato whatever toppings you like while pouring a glass of something, and eat.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/oven-fajitas/

Tass

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2019, 06:51:19 PM »
I love the Good and Cheap cookbook, with my favorites for reheating being chana masala and polenta: https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf

This week we are eating the leftovers of this delicious lentil recipe - we doubled it and it came out slightly too liquidy, fyi: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/coconut-lentils-with-rice/

I am hoping to cut down food spending next month so I also look forward to this thread.



Going to have to try the coconut lentils. Here's the lentil recipe we usually use:

https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2010/09/hearty-and-spicy-red-lentil-soup-ezo-gelin-corba/

I usually double it and we get several meals out of it. And we usually pour it over rice.
My 8 year-old inhales this stuff.

We just made this lentil recipe - pretty good and super easy! We added a dollop of the harissa from the tunisian lentil recipe and the result of culture-mixing was superb. ;)

@schmerna We also like shakshuka. What is in your tomato/mozz salad and how do you prep scallops for salad? Both sound amazing!

Clarinetah

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2019, 09:34:25 PM »
- Any type of soup (chicken noodle, chili, minestrone) reheats from frozen amazingly well.
- Baked pasta reheats great.
- Freezer burritos are great, fill with whatever you want and individually wrap and freeze. Black beans + protein + cheese + salsa.
- Pork Roast

expatartist

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2019, 09:54:47 PM »
Great thread! Lots of inspiration here. I have virtually no freezer at home or work so appreciate these suggestions for fresh and easy cooking.

OtherJen

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2019, 07:51:00 AM »
One of my stand-by make ahead ingredients is pulled pork. I make a large pork roast and freeze the meat in smaller portions. When we need a quick meal, I can defrost a bag of pork to make pulled pork sandwiches, cuban sandwiches, pork tacos, pork with roasted potatoes and veggies, etc. depending on the other ingredients I have on hand.

Seconding this. Frozen pulled pork is so handy. Itís also great in chili or a pot of beans. Ditto for brisket.

I donít tend to batch-cook often, but if Iím going to make a batch of homemade red sauce (e.g., for pasta), I may as well triple or quadruple the batch and freeze down several dinner portions. Those have been a huge help on nights when we just couldnít bring ourselves to do much more than boil water for noodles.

StarBright

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2019, 09:16:16 AM »
I bounce back and forth between freezer cooking and fresh cooking. I find I often use a freezer side and fresh entree or vice versa.  I will pat my own back and say that over the last decade I have become a solid meal planner!

For once a month/freezer recipes I love the Don't Panic! Dinner's in the Freezer cookbooks. They are mostly non-crockpotty and there are several healthier recipes in there too. I found the recipes to be outside the norm from the typical OAMC stuff.

In general, the morning I make my grocery list I put my meal plan for the week on my google calendar. I have now been doing this for almost 4 years. If I'm ever stuck on what to cook, I just look back at what I ate a year or two ago.

I try to incorporate a new recipe or two every month and I let each of my children pick out the recipe for one dinner a week (they also help prepare that recipe). They don't have to pick a different recipe every week, but they can't repeat two weeks in a row: this generally ensures that we aren't eating tacos and dutch baby pancakes every week.

I also have two super cheap recipe week meal plans that I use if my grocery spending is getting out of control. 

We allow ourselves the option of take-out twice a month and we don't schedule it because that seems to take the fun out of it and sometimes we really need it! Last night ended up off schedule for several reasons so we used take-out instead of cooking a meal. Our whole family was happier for it!

With all of those things factored in we end up eating a pretty diverse and healthy diet and we spend money on eating out about once every three weeks.

BlueHouse

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2019, 11:30:52 AM »
Not exactly what you asked, but can you get family members involved and get each of them to sign up for one night of cooking/cleaning?  Or even planning?  If planning is the problem, enlist another member of your family to plan one meal per week.  Then as more people are involved, it actually can become a fun family activity!

schmerna

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2019, 10:35:26 AM »
@Tass My Tomato & Mozzarella Salad is a Caprese: sliced tomatoes, layered with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, balsamic glaze, salt and pepper, usually over greens.

Similar: https://www.thekitchn.com/simple-summer-food-caprese-sal-60501

I usually grill (in a grill basket or on foil) or pan sear scallops with salt and pepper.  They  cook very quickly you must pay attention the whole time or like very chewy seafood.

Reference: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-buy-clean-and-cook-scal-91521

EscapedApe

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2019, 11:22:24 AM »
Stir fry cooks up nice and fast if you do all your prep ahead of time.

Cook some rice on Sunday night and then put it in a tight-seal tupperware in the fridge.

Do the same with some fresh veggies like onions, bell peppers, water cress, etc. Snowpeas are great too, and they require no prep whatsoever. Seal those up so they don't dry over the week, and throw them into your wok as you need them. Use a store-bought sauce or whip up something simple on the spot.

Keep frozen chicken breasts and just thaw and cook those as needed.

BrightFIRE

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2019, 12:04:24 PM »
I'm working a lot of OT lately and not feeling like being in the kitchen much. Since I knew this was coming, I made up a spreadsheet - 1 tab with "easy meal" ideas, 1 tab with a grid of the next 6 weeks and ideas for what will be eaten those nights. This isn't supposed to be strict, I'll cook something else if I feel like it - it's to avoid the "duh, what even is food?" when my brain can't seem to figure out dinner.

Brain sucking? Oh, look the spreadsheet says "Thai pork mango curry" > go to the easy meals tab > ingredients: frozen green mango I sliced a while ago, roast pork I chunked and froze a few weeks ago, frozen sliced bell pepper I sliced up last week, jarred curry paste, can of coconut milk, rice. Because I pre-prepped all the components, that is basically a "dump meal", but way tastier than with processed junk.

These recipes are on that list:
https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/07/one-pan-farro-with-tomatoes/ - made last night with pearl barley. Amazingly tasty for like 4 ingredients. I stirred in some homemade pesto at the end.
https://smittenkitchen.com/2017/10/quick-pasta-and-chickpeas-pasta-e-ceci/ - made this last week, will make again next week. I cooked and froze 2lbs of chickpeas a few weeks back. (Based on reader comments, I doubled the pasta and kept all other measurements the same - this was perfect and made 4 servings for us.)
https://smittenkitchen.com/2017/09/pizza-beans-cookbook-preview/
Melts of all kinds: tuna, chicken, ham, pick a deli meat are all basic. I found veggie melts surprisingly filling also: https://smittenkitchen.com/2016/02/broccoli-melts/, she has a lot of others, but you can use this to riff. I've done roasted eggplant, roasted cauli/broccoli together, sauteed mushroom, sauteed spinach - optional egg on top of any of these.
https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/moms_ground_turkey_and_peppers/ Really basic, 4 ingredient recipe. I would serve with rice. My BF is making this tonight to pour over roasted sweet potatoes.
https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/salmon_patties/
Baked potato/sweet potato: Bake it, prep toppings, call it a meal. Can use sour cream and cheese, bacon and scallions, beans and corn, chili, whatever you like. If you cut them in half and roast them cut side down on a baking sheet it cuts cooking time in half.
Naan pizza - Aldi sells large naan in a 4 pack that are the perfect size for a personal pizza. They also sell "red pesto" made with sundried tomatoes that I use as a pizza sauce.
Quesadillas - flour tortillas, cheese, maybe beans, maybe a veg (made acorn squash ones last week), served with salsa for dipping.
Cream of veggie soups - I made 3 of these the week before I started OT and froze them. Veg barely covered with water to cook, puree, add salt, pepper, and cream. I made broccoli, corn (didn't puree smoothly, I didn't care), and tomato. Now you have something to go alongside a basic sandwich or melt that feels slightly healthier.

Poundwise

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2019, 09:27:33 PM »
I've tried the recipes from here: https://www.theseasonedmom.com/all-day-slow-cooker/

Not world shatteringly delicious, but okay and certainly quick. I don't generally have more than one crockpot/Instant Pot dinner per week because the family gets tired of the texture.

I like to make chicken or beef pot pies and quiches ahead of time, and they are well appreciated. 
Baked mac and cheese, and lasagnas are also a good bet.

StarBright

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2019, 09:03:00 AM »

I like to make chicken or beef pot pies and quiches ahead of time, and they are well appreciated. 
Baked mac and cheese, and lasagnas are also a good bet.

I always triple my filling recipe when I make a pot pie! I don't always freeze the pie's ahead of time because I'm picky about crust texture but the filling is 80% of the work and cooking time. If I'm really lazy I'll just defrost the filling and serve it stew-like or mashed sweet or regular potatoes.

The Hoosier Mama Pie cookbook has AMAZING pot pie recipes for every season and I highly recommend it. We even make a super shortcutted version of her Chicken Tomatillo Pot Pie and it is still delicious.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 12:03:10 PM by StarBright »

minimustache1985

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2019, 10:09:41 AM »

I like to make chicken or beef pot pies and quiches ahead of time, and they are well appreciated. 
Baked mac and cheese, and lasagnas are also a good bet.

I always triple my filling recipe when I am make a pot pie! I don't always freeze the pie's ahead of time because I'm picky about crust texture but the filling is 80% of the work and cooking time. If I'm really lazy I'll just defrost the filling and serve it stew-like or mashed sweet or regular potatoes.

The Hoosier Mama Pie cookbook has AMAZING pot pie recipes for every season and I highly recommend it. We even make a super shortcutted version of her Chicken Tomatillo Pot Pie and it is still delicious.
Also for a super lazy ďcrustĒ you can put the filling in a pan and top it with refrigerated biscuits and bake until the biscuits are done.  That was a meal brought to me by friends when we had a newborn and it was pretty tasty.

Tass

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #41 on: November 09, 2019, 08:46:53 PM »
Naan pizza - Aldi sells large naan in a 4 pack that are the perfect size for a personal pizza. They also sell "red pesto" made with sundried tomatoes that I use as a pizza sauce.

I do this with caprese toppings! Mozzarella, mini tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar. We found that pizza dough is pretty easy to make and freeze, though, and much cheaper than store-bought naan.

I've also done the biscuit pot-pie; very tasty.

Any favorites for packing for work? I am sick of deli sandwiches. Hot food is okay, but it has to remain tasty post-microwaving (so no fish or eggs).

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #42 on: November 10, 2019, 03:57:58 PM »

I like to make chicken or beef pot pies and quiches ahead of time, and they are well appreciated. 
Baked mac and cheese, and lasagnas are also a good bet.

I always triple my filling recipe when I make a pot pie! I don't always freeze the pie's ahead of time because I'm picky about crust texture but the filling is 80% of the work and cooking time. If I'm really lazy I'll just defrost the filling and serve it stew-like or mashed sweet or regular potatoes.

The Hoosier Mama Pie cookbook has AMAZING pot pie recipes for every season and I highly recommend it. We even make a super shortcutted version of her Chicken Tomatillo Pot Pie and it is still delicious.

I also make big lots of pie filing. When it comes to serving, I just bake squares of pastry, one per serve and balance them on top of the filling..... the ultimate "fresh baked" but totally lazy pie.

Buffaloski Boris

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #43 on: November 10, 2019, 04:37:09 PM »
I tend to batch cook. Just cook a bunch of stuff for the week understanding thatís Iíll be cooking some meals. Hereís a fave Iím cooking right now: maple glazed pork loin.

1 pork half loin about 3 lbs
Glaze:
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 or 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Couple dashes of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375

Mix up all glaze ingredients.

Take pork loin and put into oven safe glass baking dish. I use a 9x 13 Pyrex dish. Poke roast several times with knife on both sides. Fat side up. Spoon on a few tablespoons of glaze mix on the pork loin. Toss in Heated oven for about 10 minutes. Take out. Spoon on a couple more tablespoons, essentially basting the pork loin. Repeat every 10 minutes for about an hour. Cook till internal temp is 150 degrees. Take out of oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

Pork loin is very inexpensive and good. Provides leftovers for a couple meals. Leftovers can also be diced up and put on salads.

Gremlin

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #44 on: November 10, 2019, 04:55:23 PM »
Another vote for big batch cooking in a slow cooker.  Tag team it with a rice cooker and life becomes so much easier on those mid-week nights of chaos.

I can cook up to six meals for a family of four in only slightly longer than it would take to cook one meal.  One goes on the table and the rest go in the freezer.

Bolognese (with the veggies dialled waaaaay up and the beef dialled waaaaay down)
Indian curries - Korma, Madras, Saagwala, etc
South East Asian curries - Rendang, green, red, yellow, massaman, etc
French or Italian style casseroles
Pulled pork
Chili
Pumpkin soup
Minestrone


Mgmny

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #45 on: November 11, 2019, 08:47:48 AM »

Make frozen portions of minced garlic in olive oil, and "stirfry starter" which is garlic, ginger and turmeric.


To each their own, but pretty much every Asian chef/stir fry expert will tell you to never use olive oil in asian cuisine. The flavor doesn't complement AND the smoke point is far too low for effective stir frying. If it works for you, then stir fry away, but just offering some opinion in case you want to try a different oil that might make your meal/experience better.

I dont use the garlic for Asian dishes.  The stirfry starter has just a bit of sesame oil in it.  I use that for Asian dishes.

Good to know I have your permission though.

I may have misunderstood you - i thought you were saying you were stir frying using olive oil, but now you are only mentioning the garlic.

if you are stir frying using olive oil, then i would stand by my recommendation to check out other oil types. If you are saying that's something different,then i misunderstood you.

Also, i was just offering some cooking advice - you know, what the entire thread is for... so you don't need my permission for anything. I was just trying to help you be a better chef....

John Galt incarnate!

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Re: Favorite Make-Ahead Meals?
« Reply #46 on: November 11, 2019, 09:01:26 AM »
Also I'm a big fan of making a huge batch of something in the slow cooker and splitting the leftovers up into freezer bags for future meals.

+1

Also, sometimes I roast 20 pounds of chicken in my oven.

I freeze it.

It keeps well in my Rubbermaid storage containers.