It can be tough cooking an entire meal every single night. The grocery list, grocery shopping, the cooking, the serving the cleaning, we’re getting exhausted just thinking about it! Instead of suffering through the dinnertime chaos, always have make-ahead meals waiting in your fridge. If you think that all easy dinner ideas have to be unhealthy, think again. You can make healthy family dinners that can be popped out of your freezer and be prepared in no time. Here are some ideas for make-ahead, healthy family dinners that will wow the whole family:
- Vegetarian chili: Vegitarian chili is a great meal that freezes suprisingly well. Add edamame for an added boost of protein and some reduced fat cheddar cheese for taste. The calorie count should clock in at only about 345 calories if you’re using white kidney beans and edamame.
- Spanish chicken and Rice: Chicken is a great source of lean protein and some brown rice with spices will provide plentiful amounts of fiber. Cooked chicken will last anywhere from 4 to six months, depending on how it’s packaged. Package in an air-tight ZipLock back for maximum freshness. Slightly undercook the rice you want to put in the freezer, then thaw it in boiling water when you’re ready to eat.
- Black bean chili: Unlike vegetarian chili, this chili is made in a slow-cooker and uses black beans as its base. Include mushrooms and chipotles to create a fuller flavor. Serve with cilantro, reduced-fat sour-cream, and a tiny bit of cheese. This stew will last about 2 months in the freezer.
- Ravioli soup: Frozen ravioli can be whipped up into a dilectible soup in under 20 minutes. All it takes is some garlic, bell peppers, red pepper, tomatoes, vegitable broth and a bit of basil to make a ravioli soup that packages well. Soups and stews generally hold for about 2-3 months. This soup, in particular, gives you about 60% of your daily value of vitamin C and you’ll get tons of antioxidants from the tomatoes.
- Sweet potato tart: Sweet potato tarts are a great dinner, providing us with tons of vitamin A. To prep for the freezer, wrap your sweet potato tart tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Do not thaw your sweet potato tart when you’re ready to start eating! Instead, throw it right in the oven with a foil cover, so you don’t lose too much moisture. Remove the cover after about 15 minutes then heat for the remaining time (about 5 minutes, give or take) on 350 degrees.
- Sausage, Mushroom, and Spinach Lasagna: Next time you want to make a nice, make-ahead meal, prepare a healthy lasagna full of vegetables and some hearty sausage for flavor. A balanced dish in itself, a sausage, mushroom, and spinach lasagna is perfect to have for lunch during the week. This lasagna will last a month or two. Try not to store your lasagna in aluminum foil as the metallic taste sometimes sticks. Instead, use greaseproof baking paper. When you’re done baking, lift the paper and pop the food in plastic, freezer-friendly bags.
- Frijoles Negros with Rice: Turn the Mexican staple of refried beans and long grain brown rice into a healthy make-ahead meal. All you need to pick up at the grocery store is some whole wheat tortillas and cheese and have yourself a Mexican night. Black beans are great for sugar regulation, digestion, and cardiovascular health.
You can use healthy make-ahead meals to make dinnertime easier than ever. Just remember to seal your foods correctly, date your freezer bags, and defrost correctly and you’ll have great freezer meals ready-to-go.