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?