If I get home around 5:00 and we want to eat at 6:00, I probably don’t have time to cook and dice chicken, cut up vegetables, and assemble it all into a casserole that takes 45 minutes in the oven. But if the casserole is already put together and I just throw it in the oven when I get home, I have 45 minutes to get ahead for the next night. This is how I do a lot of my cooking--either while tonight’s supper is cooking or after the meal is eaten and I’m cleaning up. Either way, tomorrow’s supper gets at least partially prepped tonight.
This method works great for casseroles and Crock Pot meals. We eat Meal #1 tonight, but I prep two lasagnas. One I’ll keep in the fridge, then chuck in the oven when I get home tomorrow evening. The other goes in the freezer for another time.
If you can’t prep a whole meal, you can at least get ahead. If I need chopped onions tonight, but I know I’ll also need them for two other meals I have planned this week, I just chop of extra and store it in the fridge. I do the same for shredded cheese and seasoned olive oil or butter for breads or toast.
One of my family’s favorite recipes is my mom's fried rice. Although it is good leftover, it’s best served hot and crispy. Even though we love it, I often don’t put it on the menu, because it requires a lot of chopping and dicing. But if I pre-chop all the veggies and have the meat already cooked, it really doesn’t take that long. I just have to throw it all together and fry it.
- 4 servings rice
- 1/3 c olive oil
- matchstick or shredded carrots
- diced onion
- diced peppers
- water chestnuts
- 1/2 c frozen peas and/or frozen stir fry veggies
- 3-6 eggs
- Cooked, chopped meat (chicken, fish, deer steak, etc.)
- 1/8 c Asian ginger dressing
- 1/3 c soy sauce
1) Cook rice and meat (or use thawed meat from your freezer stash).
2) Saute' fresh veggies in oil.
3) Push veggies to side, add eggs and scramble in oil.
4) Add dressings and frozen vegetables until thawed.
5) Add rice and meat. Cook until rice starts to get crispy.
For 7 more tips, follow the links at How to Cook When it's Already Time to Eat.