Friday Tips: Meals in advance

Delicious Vegan Dish of the Day:

Tonight we had friends over for dinner.  I made a pretty basic, but yummy, italian meal – Pasta Puttanesca, garlic bread and kale salad – no “vegan” substitutions necessary!

Money Matters:

Today we spent the following:

  • $30. 21 for a Whole Foods grocery trip

Friday Tips for Living Vegan and Living Cheap – with kids!:

Marinades and Sauces – another “Make your own!”

In an earlier post I discussed strategies for meal prep in advance.  Today I’m going to share some tips for preparing actual meals in advance.  These are some of the strategies I use when I know I won’t have even 15 minutes to throw dinner together that night, or when I want to have time to visit with friends and family instead of be stuck in the kitchen from 4:30 to 5:30.

Slow cooker meals: Even with my push to minimize our kitchen tools and pare down to just the things we use frequently, I am super, super excited about our newest appliance – the slow cooker we got for Christmas.  I use it at least once a week, sometimes more.  I love the fact that I can put together dinner quickly at 9:00am, and then I don’t have to think about it again until it is time to eat.  Even more exciting is the fact that we have a 6 quart slow cooker, which makes a ton of food.  So, we always have leftover soup, stew, chili, setian roast or sloppy joes that I can freeze and then reheat for another no-prep dinner late.

Pre-made casseroles: I don’t do this a lot because I not a big casserole person.  But, when we are having company or I’m going to have a really busy week, I will sometimes make a casserole,cover it up, put it in the fridge, and then it is ready to just pop into the oven about 30-45 minutes before we want to eat.  I have done this mostly with lasagna and mac and cheese, but you could also make a vegan shepards pie or samosa pie.

Freezer meals: As I’ve mentioned before, when I make soups and stews I often double them and then freeze the leftovers for another meal.  These frozen dinners come in handy on a rough day, and I can either pull them out to thaw in the morning, or just put the jar in some warm water to thaw when dinner time rolls around.  When we have salad mix I can even get adventurous and make a quick salad while some soup heats up!  Or not, depending on the day 😉

Having kid smeans I have way more days when the idea of putting dinner together at 5pm is really daunting,  That is why, at least once a week, I use one of these tips to have dinner ready with almost no work on my part.  Even I don’t have plans, life with kids is busy enough to make at least one night “off” a special treat.

My slow cooker is one of my favorite kitchen tools these days!

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