Family Friendly Make Ahead Meals
Back to school time has a way of kicking a family’s daily routine into high gear. Along with early morning alarms, homework, and after school activities, dinner—preferably a healthy one—needs to happen each day.
Some days, preparing a meal from start to finish just isn’t possible.
Grabbing food on the go is rarely a healthy option. Instead, cook in bulk ahead of time and freeze meals for those days when you have just enough time to heat and eat.
Ah the casserole! Most casserole recipes can be prepared up to the point of baking and then frozen for future enjoyment.
Some favorites I’ve made include Ina Garten’s Cauliflower Au Gratin—incorporating the delicious combination of gruyere and parmesan cheese. I also frequently make my mom’s breakfast casserole that includes really whatever you want but always eggs, cheese, onions, and breakfast sausages. Basically anything you’d put in an omelet can be added and the kids get a kick out of eating breakfast for dinner.
I am looking forward to trying Ree Drummond’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole next!
Soup is simply the best for a busy day. Just when you and your family are feeling run down, here comes a warm bowl of healthy love from mom. Soup is also a fantastic way to get more vegetables into the mouths of picky eaters.
The classic cure-all is of course chicken soup and this is my favorite make ahead meal because it it soothing, healthy, and hearty all at once.
Broccoli and cauliflower soup is a super easy one to whip up and a great option as either a side dish or stand-alone meal. There are many ways to make it—cheesy, creamy, or simply puréed.
Prepare your favorite meatloaf a few loaves at a time and freeze until you’re ready to cook. By the time homework is done, you’re house will smell great and dinner will be ready.
Almond Encrusted Nuggets
Well seasoned almond meal (and grated Parmesan) makes a delicious and much healthier “breading” for classic chicken nuggets. Freeze breaded raw chicken on a baking sheet overnight. Once solid, you can optimize freezer space and store them in a bag or container until you’re ready to cook and serve. When ready, sauté in olive oil, coconut oil, or even butter for great flavor.
That delicious protein punch that gets better over time, chili is a great make ahead option. While it’s warming, shred some cheese, chop up some scallions, and prepare any other toppings your family will enjoy.
Marinara With Meat Balls
Marinara sauce is a must have. The next time you’re making spaghetti and meatballs, dig out the biggest pot you can find and triple the recipe of your sauce. Store in portioned containers for easy future use.
Add healthy prepared items to your grocery list, like bagged salad ready to serve for a healthy side dish or organic rotisserie chicken—always a time saver!
Keep organic frozen vegetables in your freezer. They steam up quickly to be enjoyed as a side and can be added to other meals as you please.
Before your calendar is busting at the seems, block a few hours of time to prepare and freeze meals. When you do have time to prepare a nice meal, make double or triple what you need now and freeze the rest for future enjoyment.
Your future self (and your family) will thank you.