Today I’m sharing 7 meals to make and freeze this weekend. If you have a crazy schedule like mine (work, kids, the occasional chance to shower), then you probably know that 5 PM dread when you’re exhausted and realize you either have to make dinner or hope no one recognizes you in the fast-food lane.
I’m a firm believer in the occasional order of large fries from McDonald’s but, for the most part, I try to feed my family home-cooked meals. Ever since I started this blog, they’ve come to expect that. I knew I should’ve kept it a secret!
So to make us all happy, I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking in bulk on the weekend, so I can quickly put together dinners all week. With the step-by-step guide about foods to make and freeze this weekend and the week-long menu plan that follows, you can do it, too!
7 Meals To Make And Freeze
- Lean ground beef (1/2 lb. per family member)
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (3 per family member)
- Spaghetti noodles (8 oz. dry pasta per family member)
- Lettuce (1-2 heads)
- Tomatoes (2 per family member)
- Broccoli (2 heads)
- Cauliflower (2 heads)
- Black beans (1/3 can per family member)
- Cheddar cheese (3 oz. per family member)
- 2 carrots per family member
- 2 stalks celery per family member
- 2 yellow onions
- Taco shells
- Taco seasoning mix (here’s my homemade Taco Seasoning)
- Spaghetti noodles (3 oz. dry noodles per family member)
- Tortillas (1-2 per family member)
- Chicken stock (6 cups)
- Tomato sauce (1 15-oz. can)
- Salsa (1/4 cup per person)
- Fresh parsley (1 bunch)
- Garlic (1 head)
- Black or kalamata olives (4 olives per person)
- Italian seasonings (dried basil, oregano, and parsley)
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
What if you could get most of your week’s dinner prep out of the way in just one hour? With these meals to make and freeze this weekend and some concentration, you can do just that. Here’s how:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Bring 5 quarts of water to boil in a very large pot. Liberally salt the water.
3. While the water comes to a boil, arrange the chicken breasts in greased baking pans. (Use more than one pan if need to avoid crowding.) Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until they reach 180°F.
4. While the chicken bakes, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Remove 1/3 to an airtight container and freeze it. Add taco seasoning to what’s left in the pan, simmer until the liquid’s absorbed, and divide it into two containers. Freeze one.
5. As soon as the water reaches a boil, add the pasta and stir well. Cook until it’s just starting to soften (the stage before al dente). Drain, then toss it with a tiny amount of olive oil, so the noodles don’t stick. Divide in half and freeze in separate airtight containers.
6. Wash, then dice the tomatoes. Store them, with any juices, in an airtight container in the fridge.
7. Wash, then separate the broccoli and the cauliflower into florets and store them separately in the fridge.
8. Drain and rinse the black beans, then transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate.
9. When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool. Put half in one container and store it in the refrigerator. Freeze the other half.
10. Shred the cheddar cheese and store it in the fridge.
11. Wash, then chop the carrots, celery, and onions and store them separately in the fridge.
So, now that you’ve worked efficiently for the whole hour, what have you accomplished? You, my friend, have just put together the essential ingredients to make seven different super-fast dinners throughout the week.
1. Tacos (5 minutes): Defrost and reheat one package of the taco meat. Stuff it into taco shells with some of the lettuce, diced tomatoes, a sprinkling of black beans, onions (optional) and some shredded cheddar to create a balanced meal.
2. Chicken breasts with steamed veggies (10 minutes): Get out one baked chicken breast per family member from the container in the refrigerator. Steam 1/2 cup broccoli per person. Add the chicken during the last two minutes of steaming to warm it up without drying it out.
3. Spaghetti and salad (10 minutes): Defrost a package of cooked ground beef and a container of cooked noodles. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and saute them with 1/2 cup onion in olive oil. Add 1 cup diced tomatoes. Stir in the defrosted ground beef, the tomato sauce, and Italian seasonings to taste. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes to reheat. Meanwhile, toss some of the lettuce, tomatoes, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped broccoli florets together. Top with your favorite salad dressing. Serve spaghetti on plates with a salad on the side.
4. Bean and cheese wet burritos (20 minutes): Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine 1/3 cup black beans per family member with an equal amount of salsa. Add 1 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese per family member. Spoon onto flattened tortillas, fold into burritos, and place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and bake at 350°F until lightly browned (about 15 minutes). Top with lettuce, tomatoes, some chopped onions and more salsa.
5. Pasta puttanesca and steamed veggies (10 minutes): Steam 1/2 cup cauliflower florets per person. Reheat some of the pasta in boiling water for 2 minutes. While the water comes to a boil, mince 2 cloves of garlic and chop the olives. Stir these together in a large bowl with 1 cup of the diced tomatoes, plus any juices in the container, and 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped. Cook the pasta 2 minutes to reheat, drain and toss with the sauce. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with the steamed cauliflower.
6. Chicken chef salad (5 minutes): One chicken breast per person. Divide the remaining lettuce, tomato and black beans on dinner plates. Slice the chicken and put it on top of the salads. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese and serve with salsa or your favorite salad dressings.
7. Chicken noodle soup (15 minutes): Defrost remaining chicken. Bring 6 cups chicken stock to boil. Add remaining chicken, carrots, celery, chopped onion, and noodles to the stock. Mince 2 cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. Add to soup along with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until veggies are tender.
Follow the game plan and menu of foods to make and freeze this weekend and say goodbye to that feeling of dread at 5 pm!
LIKE THIS COOKING METHOD?
I’ve taken this concept a step further and created an entire cookbook around this system of cooking. If you like what you see above, you will LOVE what this cookbook can do for you.
• 12 Weekly Dinner Menus so you’ll never wonder what to cook that night! Each menu features a delicious array of healthy proteins, whole grains and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
• 12 Grocery Lists show you exactly what you’ll need to cook everything on that week’s menu, down to the last teaspoon of oregano and pinch of cayenne! No more throwing out food because you bought too much, or running to the store because you’re out of something you need.
• 12 Cooking Plans guide you step-by-step through preparing your ingredients in just a couple of hours one afternoon. After that, you never have to spend more than 20 minutes making dinner during the week.
With over 100 delicious recipes focusing on seasonal, wholesome ingredients, you’ll be feeding your family better while spending less time in the kitchen than ever before!