With the holiday fast approaching, it’s time for me (and maybe you) to start thinking about how to get in and out of the kitchen fast. This is the time of year where school, sports, family, friends, parties, work, events and just stuff all collide and we spend months running about at warp speed.
Unfortunately we still need to eat during this hectic but happy time so today I want share with you the foods I always have a batch (or two) cooked up and ready to go in my freezer for days when there needs to be food but I don’t have the time or patience to cook it.
For a long time, I did not actually know you could cook rice and reheat it. I thought it would dry out and taste bad. Boy was I surprised when I learned that to make chicken fried rice (a speedy cooks dream meal!!), already cooked rice was actually preferred, day old more so. But fried rice is not it’s only trick. Rice can be spiced up for a great side to some chicken, added to soup for extra heartiness and mixed in to a casserole. If you cook up a big batch when you have some time, rice can be refrigerated and frozen quite nicely. Once thawed, a pinch of water and about two minutes in the microwave brings it right back to life. This is a major timesaver on those nights when you just need something quick, healthy and good. You can do this with both white and brown rice and is even more of a benefit for brown, since it takes about twice as long to cook than white rice.
Here is a link to one of my fave and fast ways to use cooked rice:
My family loves, loves pasta sauce. I can pretty much pour it over just about anything and call it dinner. I used to buy at least 1-2 jars each week for the family. This can be a bit costly and I could never find a flavor that we all just loved. Then I began to make my own and a winner was found! Sauce is so easy to make and can be made in a huge batch with the same effort as small batch. Pasta sauce keeps very well (about a week in the refrigerator) and freezes wonderfully (about 3 months, although none has ever lasted that long here!). It is the base of so many amazing meals. Mix it with some meatballs or cooked ground beef and pasta, pour it over cooked chicken breast, mix it into a casserole, or even use it as an in a pinch pizza sauce. If you do not have the time or desire to make you own, keep a jar or two in your pantry at all times and you will almost always have something on hand for dinner in a hurry.
If you are feeling motivated, check out my favorite way to make pasta sauce:
Now I know french bread is not something on everyone’s list because, c’mon! You can buy bread at the store or buy crescent rolls that heat up in minutes. I agree, we love us some rolls in this house too. But there is something to be said for pulling out a from scratch, tasty loaf of bread from the freezer and having it on the table in minutes that makes any meal feel a little more decadent, festive and not so Tuesday night after practice. The beauty in bread is that you can make multiple loaves and freeze what you don’t need right away. Take it out to thaw a few hours before dinner, give it a few minutes in the oven and not only does it taste just as good as when it is baked, but your whole house has that cozy, homey smell to it.
Here is a link to my go-to bread recipe:
Last but not least, one of the main things you will find in my freezer all.the.time. (I just checked and yes there are some in there right now!) are meatballs. What I can say about them? Beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, you can use any ground meat you have. An hour of work will give you tons of meatballs, they are perfect for dividing up, freeze beautifully, can have any spices or ingredients you want in them, and are just fun to eat! Meatballs can be drenched in pasta sauce, made Swedish or given the BBQ treatment. Whatever you can think to top them with, go for it! And when you have 15 minutes to get people fed and out the door, these guys need just a few minutes in the microwave to be hot and ready to eat.
Check out a great meatball recipe here:
Those are four of my favorite things to have cooked and ready to go. Funny story, right now all four of these items are lurking in my refrigerator or freezer. What are you waiting for, get that kitchen stocked! And if you have any go-to make ahead foods I would love to hear about them! Check out the Little Prairie Kitchen Facebook page, use #littleprairiekitchen to tag me on Instagram or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now let’s get cookin!