Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pre Made Meals - To Save You Time

I don't know about you, but when I am busy the LAST thing I want to deal with is food.

And I mean, I'm a total foodie, a food blogger... and I STILL don't want to cook when I've had a late day at work, or need to study, or I'm just crazy busy.

Whether you're studying for an exam, over programmed, working late, renovating or just busy with holiday plans, the idea of spending your precious evenings making food, eating and cleaning up the mess probably has you reaching for the phone to order pizza.

Of course, you also don't want to be ordering out every night, or before you know it you'll be packing on the pounds, and feeling kind of gross. Plus your money will vanish, FAST.

Instead of take out, why not set aside a few hours on the weekend and pre make some meals to store in your freezer.

Taking a few hours to pre make meals that you can eat over a week OR TWO can make all the difference. If done right you can have delicious home cooked meals with minimal effort so that you can focus on other things.

Today I want to give you tips and advice on how to pre make your meals to save you time!

Planning It Out

The first thing you need to do is decide what you're going to make. Ideally you're making enough food to fill your freezer, but not so much that it's overwhelmed. 

You want to capitalize on food you already have so that you don't need to spend too much money on ingredients. You also want to make enough types of food so that you won't get bored of any one thing if you're diving into the freezer a lot.

I would recommend making 4 different types of meals. Ideally one or two things you can bake, a few things you can make on the stove, and something you can make in the crock pot. That way you can get lots of things made at once.

Figure out what you need to make a few sets of each meal. Bonus points if you can make enough for dinner AND lunch leftovers the next day (which is one of the best ways to save money!)

In my most recent meal prepping, I made: Spaghetti Sauce and Turkey Meatballs, Tuna Casserole, Pulled Pork, and Chicken with Rice and Veggies.

Shopping For Your Supplies

Once you have an idea of what you're going to make, it's time to hit the grocery store. Don't get distracted by other things on this trip, just pick up what you need for meal prepping.

Your kitchen is going to be a bit chaotic while you put these meals together, the last thing you need is a bag of chips in the way.

Along with your food supplies, you're going to want to pick up some disposable cooking trays with lids. These will allow you to more easily prepare your meals in single, double or family meal serving sizes.

For example, the chicken and rice dishes I prepared were done in single person servings, whereas the spaghetti sauce with meatballs and the tuna casserole were done in 4 person serving sized dishes (two for dinner, two for lunch leftovers!).

The lids are handy for writing what's in the serving dish on them, but also for stacking in your freezer. 

This way you'll have less dishes to take care of after prep as well as after eating, saving you even more time. Of course you can always use any glassware you have (ideally with lids) or you can wash and reuse the disposable ones rather than throw them out once you've eaten the contents.

Cooking Time!

Now that you're home with all your supplies it's time to get cooking! Try to order everything so that multiple things can be happening at once:

  • Anything in the slow cooker should go on first
  • Rices or Pastas can be cooked up while you chop ingredients
  • Put one meal in the oven to bake while you put together the next one to go in

Remember to keep things clean and wipe stuff down as you go. If you control the process and keep things tidy it will be easier to remember what needs to come next, and you'll avoid any cross contamination of foods.

If you've planned it out right, you'll be done in a couple hours and have up to two weeks worth of food to enjoy, without having to take up time in your evenings or order out!

Some inspiration

As I mentioned, during my most recent pre made meal prep bout I made Turkey Meatballs, Spaghetti Sauce, Tuna Casserole and Pulled Pork!

There are so many options for pre making your meals. I find that rice reheats really well, and you can freeze and reheat curries with ease. Of course soups and stews are always popular, or a big pot of chili!

Below are some links to recipes of mine (plus some other lovely bloggers) that freeze up really nicely. 

I've also included two recipe cards at the bottom of this post for Meatballs and Tuna Casserole! Print them out and enjoy!

The Gist Of It

Planning and preparing meals which you can freeze and reheat is a great way to save time (and if done well, save money!). Don't sacrifice your wallet or your health on takeout, and don't sacrifice your desperately needed free time!

Plan ahead and plan smart, and enjoy your extra time to it's fullest.

Do you have any meals you like to pre make and freeze? Let me know in the comments below and if you can include a link!