I believe all of us have time to prepare a home-cooked meal. C’mon, you could probably pull together a meal in less than 30-minutes, right? It might not be a five-course event, but it would be nutritious and probably represent all the food groups.
Note from Katie: I always think I can make a 30-minute meal, but I’m always wrong! If you are frustrated that dinner prep always seems to take an hour even for “easy” meals, know that you’re not alone. But Jessica’s tips will help a LOT!
The trouble is that we don’t always have that hypothetical 30-minutes right before we are hungry and want to eat. We might be driving the soccer carpool, finishing up a conference call, or simply waiting in an endless line of traffic.
That, my friends, is when the beauty of the make-ahead meal shines the brightest.
You might have a 30-minute window of time the night before or even in the morning before you head to the dentist. Carpe diem, folks! Seize that moment and get dinner ready now to enjoy later.
Here are 5 easy tricks to help you pull off a home-cooked meal any night of the week:
1. Cook it slow.
The Crock-pot or other slow cooker is your answer to having a hot meal ready when you walk in the door tonight. Rely on its strengths: the slow cooker does a great job at simmering soups, stews, and chilis, as well as braising cheap cuts of meat into delectable tenderness.
2. Embrace the casserole.
Casseroles are some of the greatest comfort foods on earth. Don’t knock them, find your favorites and make several at once. Slide one in the fridge to bake when you get home; stash the others in the freezer for a later date.
3. Focus on fillings.
Whether we’re talking sandwiches, tacos, burritos, or lettuce wraps, having the filling pre-cooked and ready for noshing is an easy way to go. Just pull out the cooked meats, sliced or shredded cheeses, and a variety of veggies, and you’re all set for a buffet to please the masses.
4. Chill out.
Your freezer would love to be your best friend. Won’t you give it a chance? By doing a little freezer cooking, you can stock up many meals at once and give yourself the night off many times over. There’s so much that you can freeze, it’s really a shame not to make use of this workhorse of a kitchen appliance.
5. Prep it.
One of the best things I can do for myself each week is to spend an hour prepping food for the week. Chopping and slicing vegetables, shredding cheese, mixing salad dressings and salsas – these tasks don’t take long, but they help me out all week long, easing the work of meal assembly and helping me avoid the drive thru lane.
Making your meals in advance can be a great way to save money, eat well, and enjoy a little breathing room in the evenings. This month it can be even easier when you buy A Month of Make-Ahead Meals.
This meal plan covers the whole month with make-ahead, easy-prep, family-friendly meals. You’ll get 30 recipes, meal planning ideas, grocery lists, and prep tips. No need to figure out what to make or buy, the hard work’s all done for you so you can enjoy time to do what you want, every night.
Note from Katie: We have a few of Jessica’s recipes in our regular rotations and they’re FABULOUS. Just the sort of whole foods, family-friendly, not-too-complicated dishes I love (sloppy joes from the freezer cookbook, a cabbage salad from her site, and a few others from the freezer cookbook, if you’re wondering).
Disclosure: I received a copy of the meal plan to review and am an affiliate of the meal plans.