When it comes to meal planning, I always have the best of intentions but also tend to fall short often. In my defense, Kevin and I have unpredictable weeknight schedules, and it’s hard to know when we’ll be home for dinner.
However, lately I’ve tried to make an effort to prep some meals that can be ready to pull out of the fridge or freezer and enjoy relatively quickly. After all, it’s nice to have some healthy, hearty options that are already prepped. (My typical weeknight go-to meal is either salad — as we usually have the “fixin’s” for that on hand — or stir fry.)
Since I’ve had good luck with a few of these make-ahead recipes lately, I thought I’d share them with y’all in case they’re helpful for your schedules and families, too. (Alas, I took zero photos when I made these dishes, so I’m incorporating images from the blogs that I got these recipes from):
- Baked Spaghetti Squash. I’ve been on a spaghetti squash kick recently, and so when I was craving lasagna a couple of weeks ago, I went on an Internet hunt for a lasagna-like recipe involving spaghetti squash rather than traditional noodles. I found this one, and Kevin and I LOVE it. It does take a bit of prep work, but I think it’s totally worth it. (Also, for some extra protein, I add about 3/4 pound of ground beef to our version, browning it with some extra onion and then incorporating it as one of the layers.) This dish can be enjoyed immediately, but it also “freezes beautifully” (as Annelle from Steel Magnolias would say) so you can make it well in advance. You could also assemble the “lasagnas” in smaller containers and freeze those if you’re planning on serving meals for two or so people rather than a larger group. (I’d also recommend sprinkling with some red pepper flakes when serving if you like a little extra spice. Yum!)
- Crock Pot Paleo Minestrone Soup. I have some good soup recipes, but wanted to add a new one to my line-up. I’ve always been a fan of minestrone soup (true story: it’s my favorite menu item from back in the day when I was a server at The Olive Garden), so specifically wanted to find a veggie-packed version minestrone. This soup met that criteria, and so I made a big batch of it in the crock pot, then froze it in small, single- and double-serve containers, and Kevin and I could easily pull it out and microwave it or prepare it on the stovetop when we wanted the soup for a meal. It worked great. (I added browned ground beef to our soup, incorporating the beef toward the end of the cooking process, as the recipe mentions with the sausage.)
- Slow Cooker Apple Cranberry Chicken. I found this recipe thanks to a post on my friend Teri’s blog a few weeks ago, and it’s a great one. As opposed to the crock pot minestrone soup recipe (above), I love that the crock pot step comes last for this dish. You can prep all the components in advance and have them ready in the fridge or freezer to pop into the crock pot on the day you plan on enjoying this dish.