Making fresh meals each and every day, three times a day can be nearly impossible.
It simply takes up too much time, particularly if both parents are working.
Even with a full-time stay-at-home parent, it can be downright difficult to find the time to tackle this particular responsibility.
This is why make-ahead meals are such a wonderful tactic.
As the name suggests, you simply make these meals ahead of time – over the weekend or whenever you have a spare moment.
Then, simply pop it in the freezer or refrigerator.
When it is needed, reheat the food and voila, you have a meal ready in minutes instead of hours!
Of course, make-ahead meals do require a fair amount of planning and prep work.
Thus, if you want to get it right, you are going to need some tips and tricks on your fingertips.
There’s no need to worry, though, as you can find all of them here:
Plan Out Your Meals
The first thing that you need to do is to sit down and plan your meals.
After all, your kids aren’t going to want to eat the same thing for every lunch or dinner.
This means that you need to create a menu for the week ahead.
There will then be just enough variation to keep things interesting for you and the kids.
Naturally, you will need to focus your attention on foods and meals that will freeze and reheat well.
At the same time, the recipes will need to be ones that you are comfortable dealing with.
So, go through a list of your favorite recipes and decide which ones will hold up well.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be hesitant to try out new avenues as well.
For instance, pulled pork sandwiches are sure to be a hit with both adults and children alike – especially if there is barbecue sauce involved!
While the process may take a little time, the good news is that you don’t have to watch over the meat.
Simply pop it in your grill and let the heat do its thing.
If you try this one out, you will realize just how easy the process can be.
Pick the Right Containers
With make-ahead meals, it isn’t just about the food; you also have to consider the storage containers as well.
After all, there is little use in making a whole heap of food if you don’t have anywhere to store it.
Thus, you will need to go shopping for the best possible containers.
More often than not, glass containers are your best option.
For one thing, they are safer.
You can store food in these containers for extended periods of time without worrying about how the material will interact with the food inside it.
For another, glass is excellent at keeping foods fresh, particularly when it is equipped with an air-tight container.
This means that there’s no need to be concerned about how long food is going to last.
As long as you store the foods at an appropriate temperature, they will be just fine for you to reheat at a later date.
As an added bonus, glass containers don’t really absorb the odors or the colors of the food that they are storing.
This means that you can confidently store sauces and similar foods and not have a stain or enduring aroma to deal with.
Finally, glass containers are incredibly durable.
As such, you can pop them in the freezer without any concern that they may crack under the extreme temperatures.
Needless to say, this is a pretty important feature.
Pick the Right Day for You
With make-ahead meals, you do need to carve out a day or a few hours that you can dedicate to cooking.
Some people prefer to do it all on one day such as a Sunday.
Others would rather break up the task across two days – the exact schedule is up to you.
Of course, there are a couple of things to consider when picking the day.
In particular, you need to pay attention to how long certain foods can be kept fresh.
For instance, meat and fresh veggies can be stored for 3 – 4 days.
Seafood, on the other hand, doesn’t have such a long lifespan and will need to be eaten in a couple of days.
Rice can be stored up to a week while gravies and broths shouldn’t be kept for more than two days.
Once you have figured out how long certain foods can be stored, you will have a better idea of when you can start cooking them.
Shop in Bulk
With make-ahead recipes, you can’t just buy the ingredients at the last minute.
Instead, you need to buy them in bulk – meat, veggies, and seasonings, etc. included.
This is the only way to make the dishes all at once and then freeze them.
Once you have created your menu, you will have an idea of what you will need.
It is now a matter of determining how much of each of these foods and ingredients that you will require for the week.
Fortunately, the measurements that go along with the recipes will help you to figure this out.
The good news is that shopping in bulk should save you some money.
This is because once you have everything you need, you will be less likely to go back to the store.
In turn, you won’t end up spending money on items that you don’t really require.
Get the Family Involved
If make-ahead meals sound a bit tedious to you, know that you can get your family involved in the fun.
If your kids are old enough, they can help with prepping foods or measuring out ingredients.
Or, they can simply help with the recipe instructions.
This chore can be made a great deal easier with the right tools.
Appliances like a slow cooker can cook the foods so that you don’t have to keep a constant eye on what is going on.
Not to mention, you will be able to get other things done during this downtime.
There is no denying that make-ahead meals can take some getting used to.
However, once you find your rhythm, you will love the system that you have set up for you and your family.