In today's fast-paced world, we cannot all be homemakers and cook lunch or dinner every day of the week. It's so much easier and convenient and order-take out food. Yet, the growing trend of healthier eating and lifestyle has people of thinking of preparing home-cooked meals in advance.
Home-cooked meals are not only nutritious and healthier, they are also inexpensive. Here's a guide to planning and preparing meals in advance.
- Plan your menu for the week. Think about what meals you can prepare in advance and how long are they going to last stored in the refrigerator or freezer without getting spoiled. Also consider how you are going to them. For example, stew, beans, and chili take long to prepare but can be stored long in the freezer. You can prepare them Sunday and eat them on Friday and they would only taste better.
Do not forget to tack a copy of your daily meal plan in you refrigerator or bulletin board. This will serve as your guide throughout the week.
- Shop for ingredients. If you are going to prepare meals in advance, be sure to get the freshest produce possible. It is not good to use vegetables or meat near its spoilage in preparing meals that you will store and eat at a later date. Do not forget to include Ziplock bags or plastic containers in your shopping list.
- Cook, cook, and cook. Set aside a day for cooking. If you are preparing meals for weekdays, Sunday afternoon, is the best time to cook it. In that way, in case you forgot an ingredient, or need to buy additional plastic containers to hold the food, you can do so easily.
In addition, cooking your meal in one sitting saves you time. Have you ever noticed that once you're in the "zone" you do things faster, better, and more efficiently? The same goes with cooking. Setting aside time to cook your meals in advance gets you in that "zone" and before you know it, you have pre-cooked meals stocked in your refrigerator for the rest of the week.
Here are some food items that you can prepare and cook and use before hand.
- Rice. Cooked rice last 2-3 days if stored in the freezer and a day in the refrigerator. You can use rice to make quick vegetable fried rice during the week. Just add scrambled eggs, peas, carrots, and corn.
- Chicken/Pork. Marinated pork or chicken lasts for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator, provided that it is stored in an airtight container. This gives times for the pork and meat to absorb the flavors of the marinade and make them tastier. You can throw this in your traditional or microwave oven during the week.
- Beef. You can make beef patties, beef stew, or spaghetti sauce before hand and eat it later. Juts heat the spaghetti sauce and beef stew at least 30 minutes before you're going to serve them. The beef patties you can cook for a hamburger dinner.
- Pasta. Cooked pasta, including lasagna and baked macaroni, can be prepared a two to three days before eating them. Just make sure they are sealed tight and frozen the right way. Just thaw them before you reheat them in the microwave oven.
Preparing meals in advance takes planning and careful consideration. But it is highly recommended for those who want to eat more healthfully.