Hi my name is Heather and my blog is Small Fry & Co. It is a hodge podge of mothering ideas, recipes, crafts, projects and random thoughts.
One series that I have been doing for a little while now is called Make Ahead Mondays. The purpose of the series is to share recipes that can be made ahead and frozen, or made ahead and used over a couple of days, or made in large quantities so you don't have to make them again for a while :)
I mean I love to cook but there are some days (seems like more lately) that I don't have a clue what I am going to make. Having some Make Aheads ready often helps inspire me and helps me serve wholesome and delicious meals and snacks more often, without all the work.
When I look for make ahead recipes I don't necessarily look for an entire meal or a whole dish (like a casserole-though there are tons of great make ahead casseroles). I usually look for individual items that can be used as a part of a meal - making your prep time less when it actually comes down to cooking. I don't have a lot of freezer space in my home so I try and add some recipes that don't have to be frozen but most make ahead ideas lend themselves very well to freezing (so if you are going to try this on a large scale freezer space is a necessity).
Also just a note on cooking a frozen make ahead meal. Every one is usually different, but the only thing that usually changes in the cooking process is the time. Obviously you will need to increase your cooking time and you will for sure want to check (for the best accuracy use a thermometer) the internal temp before serving. Sometimes the outside may look done but the middle is not. Let me share with you some of my favorite make ahead ideas and why you might like them.
1. Biscuits. Why you might like this: have you tried the store bought canned biscuits? They are terrible. Homemade biscuits are so divine-but also time consuming. I make up a double batch every time I make biscuits and then bake only about 6 for my family and I freeze the rest. I can put the frozen ones on a cookie sheet and in the oven while I scramble eggs, cut fruit and get kids to the table and they are ready.
2. Cookie Dough. Why you might like this: when I first posted this idea I felt like it might be insulting to my readers it was so basic, but it is also so genius (if I do say so myself-pat pat on my back). You know how sometimes you make cookies and have two full pans for the oven and then a small amount of dough left over that is not enough to fill another pan and you don't want to wait to bake more. I scoop mine up and freeze it in dough balls. Or sometimes I make a double batch and bake one batch and freeze the other. I put all my cookie dough balls in the same bag (so I have a mixture). Then when we want cookies I can take out enough to make 1 pan (so we don't over eat), I can bake a variety of cookies at the same time and I have no clean up. I now always have a bag of cookie dough balls in my freezer-they are so convenient for when the craving strikes.
3. Artisan Bread. Why you might like this: it gives you the opportunity to have fresh and delicious bread 3-4 times in a week without the whole bread dough making process. This one you can keep in your fridge and the bread is so fantastic.
4. Pretzel Bites. Why you might like these: you can spend one afternoon and do all the work to make the pretzels and then enjoy these delicious bites for a few days-months (depending on how fast your scarf them). Just remember to fully thaw them when you take them out of the freezer before you bake them. These are an excellent after school snack and so much better than the nasty pretzels you get at concession stands or buy in the frozen section of the grocery store.
5. Breakfast Burritos. Why you might like these: they are a cinch to make, they are super easy for breakfasts on the go and they are cheaper and healthier than some processed pocket type sandwich you get in the freezer section of your grocery store or that you can buy in a drive through. Plus you can customize them to be filled with exactly what you want.
6. Grapefruit slush. Why you might like this: this is such a yummy and refreshing treat. I am wishing my family hadn't scarfed down the 3 batches I made before the weather got warm. It is a perfect blend of grapefruit, strawberries and pineapple. You mix up your fruit mixture and freeze it. Then when you need a refreshing drink you can scoop the frozen fruit into a cup and cover with lemon lime soda pop. SOOOOO GOOD!!
7. Muffins. Why you might like these: muffins are my original Make Ahead idea. I love how muffins taste right out of the oven. I don't like how they taste or the texture of them the next day or day after that-but if you have a small family a whole batch of muffins is way too many to eat at once. And yes you can freeze baked muffins but guess what-when they thaw they will taste just as bad as a day old muffin. But you can freeze the batter in muffin cups so that when you want fresh warm muffins you can grab out just as many as you need and bake them. No more wasted muffins. You have to increase you baking time by 10-15 minutes because you bake these frozen so keep that in mind.
8. Egg McMuffins. I wanted to share one more, brand new idea today: Egg McMuffins. These are so popular at many fast food places. They are a great hand held breakfast idea and are great for on the go eaters. Yes there are some premade frozen versions and certain fast food joints sell them for a buck, but you can't beat a breakfast that is made with ingredients that you selected and is not processed. These are kind of like the breakfast burritos.
I filled my english muffins with cheese, bacon and scrambled eggs. You could do sausage patties, onions or peppers too. After they were cool, I wrapped each one in plastic wrap and put them all in a large freezer bag in the freezer. Now when it is time for breakfast you can grab one out, microwave it for 1-2 minutes (probably the latter because the middle will take the longest to cook-depending on your microwave you made need longer time-experiment) and you are ready to go.
I hope I have inspired you to try out some of these make ahead ideas. I have more on my blog if you are really catching the Make Ahead bug. Who doesn't need a few time saving ideas in their life? Thanks so much to Lorene for inviting me to guest post. What a great treat.
Thanks, Heather! I'm eating all the ice cream in my freezer *right now* to make room for some muffins and artisan bread... ;)
Don't forget to stop by Small Fry & Co for more make-ahead ideas, plus all of Heather's other super cute ideas and tutorials -- right now she's doing an awesome Get Well Week, full of fun ideas for the sick and otherwise afflicted in your life.
This post is part of the Housewife MacGyver series on just Lu. Read more about Housewife MacGyver and see all the posts in the series here.