In the hectic Monday through Friday routine, there’s nothing quite like a delicious home cooked meal. But in the hectic routine, who feels like cooking? Especially when you have errands to run, clothes to fold and DVR’d episodes of Project Runway to catch up on. And even though dining out is appealing, it can quickly bust your monthly food budget and waistline. To remedy this dilemma, we here at RELAXnation like to turn to the “Make-Ahead-Meal.”
Make-Ahead-Meals are cooked days, and even weeks, before you actually use them. They simply hang out in your freezer until you don’t have the time or energy to make a home cooked meal. (Stop right now if you think a store bought frozen meal does the same thing. We’re talking about home cookin’!) There are hundreds of delicious recipe options for Make-Ahead-Meals and you can adapt your favorites to work, just keep in mind they will spend time in your freezer. So you may have to adapt a few ingredients and some meals will work better than others.
To get you started, we’ve compiled our best Make-Ahead-Meal Tips. Give Make-Ahead-Meals a try and you’ll be happy when you have a great home cooked meal waiting for you on a busy night in the future. And please share your favorite Make-Ahead-Meal recipes in the comments below, too!
Label, label, label! Our most important tip: don’t forget to label your food! Keep a marker and blank labels (or a roll of tape) handy in your kitchen. Each time you make a meal, label and date it before you place it in the freezer so you’ll know exactly what it is and when you need to eat it by.
Avoid The Burn: To keep your meals from freezer burn spoilage, cover and seal food in airtight containers. If the meal is in a pan, wrap it first with cling wrap and then with foil. Securely seal all zipper bags and plastic containers.
Extra storage: Purchase inexpensive pans to store larger meals. Disposable aluminum pans also work. This will keep your cooking dishes free for continued use.
Divide and Conquer: Store your meals in appropriate size containers for you or your family. If it’s just you, divide your meal into individual serving sized containers, typically four per recipe. If you have four people, store four servings together.
Double, No Trouble: If you have extra time and ingredients while cooking dinner, double the recipe so you can serve half and then freeze half.
Be Safe: Here is some helpful information from the the USDA on how to freeze food safely and how long to keep it.
Hundreds of recipes dedicated to Make-Ahead-Meals: