Thursday, March 01, 2012

Make Ahead Meals



As I'm finding less time to devote to cooking everyday, the idea of make ahead meals becomes more and more appealing.  I've been experimenting a bit with making stuff ahead of time and freezing it and thought I'd share some of the things that have worked for me!

Brown rice freezes really well!  Brown rice takes forever to cook so to cut down on time in the kitchen, I made a huge batch (huge will depend on the size of your family) and left what I wanted to use for the week in the fridge and froze the rest in Ball freezer jars after it cooled.  I used some last night in a rice and beans dish, I just brought the jar down from the freezer into the fridge in the morning to thaw.

Any sort of soup, chili, stew, or curry you can make in the slow cooker is great for freezing.  I like to make a giant batch of slow cooker food and then freeze a fair amount of the leftovers, especially in one-serving containers that are great for my husband to take to work for lunch.

Corn bread freezes amazingly well!  I made a pan of cornbread and then cut it into individual pieces before I froze it.  Then, when I wanted a piece to go with chili, I just pulled out what I wanted and moved them to the fridge to thaw.  This is also great for work lunches, by the time lunch rolls around, the cornbread is thawed and ready to eat, or can be easily warmed in a microwave.

Making a big batch of salad dressing and using it for a few days' worth of meals has worked out really well for me too.  Quick salads for me are a base of grains (barley for example) topped with some dressing, then a protein (black beans or chick peas are my fave) and whatever veggies I have on hand.  Avocados are really good on top if you have one around.  And then some dressing on top and crushed up pieces of nori.  Yum!

Cooking my own beans in the slow cooker starting with dried beans is a cheap and easy way to have protein at the ready for various meals.  So far this week, the batch of pinto beans I cooked has been used for fideo and rice and beans, and there's enough leftover for one additional meal.
So what are some of your favorite make ahead meals or tips?

-kala

5 comments:

pentalia said...

This is great... just what I needed for ideas on how to do better with time-saving meals.

We try to have one meal per day with a big salad as the main dish, so I love the way you do yours.

At night I cook enough dinner for 4, so Hubbie and I can eat our 2 servings for dinner, put the other 2 in containers in the 'fridge, and have them the next day for lunch. And I alternate meal-types every night. On evening #1, I cook a dish with a grain (quinoa, brown rice, or polenta) topped with stir-fried veggies in season. Then the next night it's a salad for 4 so we can do the same thing with a hearty salad on a bed of lettuce. I like to make black bean salad, corn and tomato salad, fruit salad, marinated veggies, or just a great big lettuce salad with fresh veggies, mushrooms, and some seeds like pumpkin or sunflower. Then the leftovers go into containers for the next day's lunch with a side of dressing and some extra lettuce. We eat a lot of avocado with our salads, too.

Ludmilla said...

Came over from Etsy, thank for putting my gauge cards in your wonderful treasury.
I a, slowly easing into vegan diet, cut out cow milk, feels ready good. I cook a lbig batch of organic garbanzo beans and then use some for humus and some for squash/curry/garbanzo soup and the rest I freeze for later. I buy all our beans dried, not canned, so one has to plans bit to do the soaking and cooking ...., just lke you do with rice.
Cheers
Ludmlla

Hannah said...

Advance prep like this is the only way I manage to avoid eating cold cereal for dinner most days. I love having lots of staple components ready to go and throw together as desired- Rice bowls are a favorite around here. It's all about the sauces to change things up! Carrot-ginger dressing and caramelized onions have been my latest obsessions.

Ammie said...

Yum! Cooking is not my favorite past time. (I'd rather knit, or read, or bake.) Sometimes the mood hits, and then it's nice to have something in my tool belt to last me several days.

Melissa said...

I recently discovered that my picky eater husband loves barley in salad form. You could hear the tires screech as I made a run to the store for more!!

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