Make Ahead Meals #1

As a third grade teacher and mother of two, my weeks get very busy.  One way I stay sane is by preparing all of my meals for the week over the weekend.  Check out this week’s make ahead meals.

These make ahead meals will make your life so much easier! Prepare your food over the weekend, and just pop your meals in the oven on busy weeknights.

 

Make Ahead Meals Week 1

Making meals over the weekend takes a little bit of preparation.  I start by looking at the circulars for our local grocery stores on Thursday night.  I make my shopping list by writing down items that I need that are on sale.  Then, I browse Pinterest for recipes that use the ingredients I have at home and sale items for the week.  Once I have my grocery list finalized, I go through my coupons to see if any match with the items I’m buying.   I’m certainly not an extreme couponer, but I like to save money when I can.  Find out how meal planning can save you time and money.

I wake up early Saturday morning and go to the grocery store before my kiddos are out of bed.  The stores are fairly empty early in the morning.  That makes it much easier to get in the store, get what I need, and get home.  Giant Food Store and Weis Markets are the two closest grocery stores, and I usually go to both since there are different specials at each one.  Then, I take everything home and unpack.

Next, my meal preparations begin.  It usually takes me most of the morning to prepare the food, but by noon my refrigerator is full of make ahead meals, and we’re ready to eat for the week.  Nothing is better than coming home after a long day and being able to just pop a dish in the oven.  Dinner is ready in 30 minutes with no work and no pots and pans to clean, except for the one baking dish.  This also gives me time to play with my children before dinner and baths, since the rest of the night goes by so quickly and before you know it, it’s bedtime.  Today I’m going to take you through my menu for this week.

Menu

Breakfast – Blueberry Baked Oatmeal and Strawberry Banana Smoothies

Monday Dinner – Barbeque Chicken Skewers

Tuesday Dinner – Shrimp Pasta Alfredo

Wednesday Dinner – Pasta with Mini Meatballs

Thursday Dinner – Tuna Ranch Casserole

Friday Dinner – English Muffin Pizza

Dessert – Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Breakfast

Let’s start with breakfast since it’s the most important meal of the day.  In the mornings there isn’t much time for food preparation in my house.  I like to make something over the weekend that I can just pop in the microwave for a few seconds and be ready to run out the door.  The blueberry baked oatmeal from Dorothy at Crazy for Crust is one of my family’s favorites.  I love that it uses applesauce to give it extra moisture and extra fruit.  My son always asks for more.  We pair it with a fruit smoothie.  My husband just got a Nutri Ninja for his birthday, and we’ve used it daily ever since.  I just throw all of the ingredients into one of the handy cups.  While the baked oatmeal is heating in the microwave for one minute, the Nutri Ninja is making our smoothie.  This week I bought frozen strawberries and bananas to make this smoothie from Ali at Gimme Some Oven.

Blueberry baked oatmeal and a strawberry smoothie are great breakfast items for a week of make ahead meals.

Monday

Monday night we will have barbeque chicken skewers.  I bought some chicken breasts and cut them into one-inch pieces.  Then, I threaded them onto skewers and brushed them with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce.  I made mushroom and red pepper skewers seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper to serve as a side.  I also have some Rice Pilaf from Near East that I will make while the skewers cook.  Now when I get home from school Monday night all I have to do is put the skewers on a baking sheet and broil them for about 10 minutes on each side.   I like it when the peppers get some color, so I sometimes leave the veggie skewers in for a few extra minutes.  If you have a grill, you could also grill the skewers.

Chicken kebabs are one of this week's make ahead meals.

Tuesday

Our meal for Tuesday night is the result of a sale on Knorr Pasta Sides at the grocery store last week.  I picked up a few packs of the alfredo noodles, because the recipe on the back sounded yummy, and I had picked up some frozen shrimp at the store when they were on sale.  They’ve been waiting patiently in my freezer for me to find a recipe that uses them.  This Knorr Creamy Shrimp Alfredo was just perfect.  I did substitute the spinach with peas and the cherry tomatoes with sundried tomatoes since those were what I had on hand.  I can’t wait for my family to try it because shrimp are my son’s favorite!

Knorr Creamy Shrimp Alfredo is one of my easy, delicious make ahead meals.

Wednesday

I made mini turkey meatballs last weekend for Italian Wedding Soup.  It was a really big batch, so I put some in the freezer.  I decided to look for a recipe for this week to use the rest, and I found this Orecchiette with Baked Mini Chicken Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce from Katya at Little Broken on my pasta board on Pinterest.  The last time I made this dish, my whole family loved it.  I was excited to make it again!  I didn’t have any orecchiette pasta, so I substituted penne.  Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  My son and daughter already had a small plate of this when it was ready.  I had to hide the rest before they ate it all.  They will definitely be looking forward to supper Wednesday night.

Pasta with Mini Chicken Meatballs is one of this week's make ahead meals.

Thursday

Tuna was on sale this week, and that was the inspiration for our Thursday night supper.  I inherited my mom’s cooking binder when she passed away a few years ago, and I go to it often for inspiration.  Many of the recipes she clipped and saved are family favorites, and they remind me of her when I make them.  This tuna ranch casserole is one of those nostalgic meals.  She found it in an old Woman’s World Magazine, and I found the exact recipe on Food.com.  I used elbow macaroni instead of pasta shells.  My children are huge fans of ranch dressing and will dip just about anything in it.  The ranch flavor of this casserole gets them to eat lots of vegetables.

Tuna Ranch Casserole is one of this week's make ahead meals.

Friday

Friday night is always pizza night at our house.  By the end of the week, we are all pretty exhausted and need a pick-me-up.  Pizza is everyone’s favorite.  This week I bought some English muffins.  I make this Copy Cat Recipe for Pizza Hut Sauce from Budget Savvy Diva and freeze it in batches that are enough for one pizza night.  I take that out at the beginning of the week so it is thawed completely by Friday.  When I get home from school on Friday, all I have to do is put the sauce on the English muffins, top them with cheese and our favorite toppings, and bake them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  My husband picks my daughter up from the babysitter after work, and our pizza is often ready before he even makes it home.  Then, we can sit back and relax while we eat out delicious homemade pizza.  It’s cheaper, faster, and probably healthier than the delivery pizza we used to order each Friday night.

Dessert

My family loves sweet treats, so I always make one dessert item.  This week I decided to make Chocolate Chunk Blondies from the Barefoot Contessa.   My friend’s family loves these so I decided to bake the blondies in two 8 x 8 pans instead of one 8 x 12 pan.  They were a little thinner but equally delicious.  I left out the walnuts because my friend’s son has a nut allergy, and I substituted mini chocolate chips for the chocolate chunks.  I had to take a picture of my friend’s pan of blondies, because my family dug in before they were even cooled.

Chocolate chunk blondies are the perfect dessert for my make ahead meals.

Over the weekend we usually eat out for supper one night.  The other night we either eat leftovers or make sandwiches.   Every time I open the refrigerator door I get so excited to see all of my make ahead meals for the week ready to go.  I know I am ready for another busy work week to begin.

My refrigerator is full, and my make ahead meals are ready for the busy work week.

How do you plan for your meals during the week?  What are some of your family’s favorites?

Check out some other make ahead meals.

Make-Ahead Meals #2        Make-Ahead Meals #3        Money-Saving Make-Ahead Meals

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2 thoughts on “Make Ahead Meals #1

  1. This is so smart! I’ve been meal planning for a while now. Sometimes I try to make all of my meals in one day so that I have food ready throughout the week. But, just prepping it so there’s minimal work later is SO SMART! I’m going to have to try this. I might just start today since we will be grocery shopping later.

    1. [email protected] says:

      I used to fully prepare everything on the weekend, but I found that some foods weren’t as good reheated. I also found myself making mostly casseroles, which aren’t my husband’s favorite. Getting the prep work done on the weekends saves so much time, and I love having a fresh meal in under 30 minutes during the week.

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