You’re Coming Tomorrow? 3 Steps to Cooking the Best Make Ahead Dinners
Maybe you’ve got a routine something like this: get the kiddos to school, go to work, help with carpool after school, tutor your children with homework while you get supper, and monitor their screen time. You might not feel like you have time for anything extra.
Life is full of surprises, though. That friend who lives out of state could decide to drop by unannounced. Parents may want to come to visit, or your sweetie might want to throw an impromptu get-together to welcome a new set of neighbors.
You’ve got this! With the right tools and a few decent backup plans, you’ll be able to delight those surprise guests with on-the-spot deliciousness.
Use your Kitchen Gadgets
When you don’t have time to cook, kitchen equipment such as a crock-pot or pressure cooker can be a time saver. Drop a roast into the slow cooker with your favorite seasonings and allow it to roast all day for a delicious shredded-meat main dish that you can serve over rice or on sandwiches. If you forget, you can use the pressure cooker setting to get the meal on the table in a much shorter time.
While it’s cooking, blend up a spicy sauce to accompany the meat. Consider using something like the Veggie Spiral-it to make your side vegetables look extra fancy. If you’re not into the spiral craze and need a speedy slicing tool, invest in a Mandolin slicer. You’ll be able to slice everything from tomatoes to potatoes in a few easy swipes. The beauty of slicing vegetables is that they cook even faster than when you chop or cube, and they definitely have a much better look on the plate.
No crock-pot and it’s too late to buy one? That’s when it’s time to break out the casserole dish! Many people aren’t aware that a casserole dish isn’t just for casseroles. Season a roast very well and then wrap it in foil. Pre-heat your oven and a few hours later you’ll have fall off the bone shredded meat that rivals any restaurant dish.
When You Know What to Cook This Week, Plan Meals in Advance
Having people over on the spur of the moment is easiest when you’ve already planned the meal in advance. You may have to scale the recipe, but you won’t have to search through cookbook apps for something new to try.
Plan your menus a week ahead of time and pick at least one or two meals that can be extra fancy in case you need to impress someone. Use a good menu planning software such as Mastercook Pro to check nutrients and create your shopping list for you. Scale at least one of the nicer meals for a larger group just in case (you can always eat leftovers) and have your grocery delivery service bring everything to your door to save time.
Planning meals can be an activity for the whole family. Many families are now creating meal books that they can develop into meal calendars and family menus. Everyone simply writes suggestions for future meals in the book, and it can be used to develop weekly menus in the future.
This works very well for when unexpected company is coming over as you simply adjust the meal for a larger audience.
Prep and Freeze Ingredients for Delicious and Sensible Meals
Planning your menus ahead of time gives you the ability to be extra prepared when it comes time to cook. On the day your groceries arrive, chop your vegetables and meats. You can combine ingredients for one meal into a freezer bag and set it in the chest freezer for a delicious and fast surprise meal.
If you plan to bake, you can do the same thing with dry ingredients. Mix them and pack them in jars or plastic bags so you can pull them from the pantry and go. You can also stock up on items like frozen bread doughs, pie crusts, and desserts to make in-home entertaining fun and easy.
Not into plastic bags or plastic storage containers? That’s okay! Pyrex makes an entire line of glass storage containers at a reasonable price, and they’re available at thousands of retail locations. The beauty of the Pyrex containers is that they come in a variety of sizes.
They have numerous bowls for prepping smaller items all the way up to casserole dishes that can also be used in the oven. Even better, Pyrex also offers many different styles and designs on their containers that can also be used for serving. It’s the perfect solution for ingredients and meal preparation.