5 Easy Make-Ahead Meals for Moms Who Hate Cooking
Raise your hand if you're a mom who hates cooking.
I have to admit that the older I am getting, the more I am accepting my lot in life. I've stopped stressing so much about cooking because I've realized a few things: 1) I don't have to be an amazing chef to be a good mom. 2) Overthinking cooking just makes it worse. And 3) the simple meals are usually the ones my kids love most anyways.
Nowadays, while I still don't love cooking, I am trying to make it a more enjoyable experience. Instead of rushing around trying to do a million things during dinner time and feeling stressed about it, I'm accepting that it's going to be pure chaos for a while, encouraging my kids to pitch in more and do things like make their lunches or set the table, and pouring myself a nice glass of wine. For me, getting through dinner time is about having a good rotation of quick and easy meals and doing prep work ahead of time if I can. That make-ahead meal life can be a life-saver. Want to give it a shot? Here are five easy make-ahead-meals to try if you know you have a busy night ahead or want a night “off.”
Ham & Cheese Sliders
I recently added this ham and cheese slider recipe to our family dinner rotation and it has been a huge hit. Two tips for you: Hawaiian sweet rolls freeze really well, so stock up when they are on sale and also, this recipe is still delicious even if you don't have poppy seeds on hand. I have yet to make it with the actual poppy seeds and it has turned out great.
I make the sandwiches ahead of time, then pop them in the fridge with some aluminum foil until dinner time. Then, a quick bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown and we're good to go. If I have time, I also pair the sliders with some Instant Pot tomato soup.
This is literally the easiest meal you will ever make. Throw 2 or 3 chicken breasts (you can even keep them frozen) at the bottom of a crockpot, cover with a layer of black beans (I use dry beans, but canned are fine, too!), add a jar of salsa, and top with some burrito seasonings like chili powder, cumin, garlic, and red pepper, and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred the chicken and voila! Instant burritos. If you're looking to skip the meat, just add more beans and veggies and mix in some cheese.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
Casseroles are the quintessential make-ahead meal and for good reason. Hearty, filling, and easy, they can make your night a little easier by keeping dinner contained to just one pan. This recipe calls for homemade Alfredo, but you could always save time by using canned.
Lasagna is also a popular make-ahead meal, but if I'm being totally honest, even the traditional lasagna version can be difficult for lazy old me. I came across this version that uses frozen ravioli instead of lasagna noodles and thought it was a great, easy twist on a pan (and fan!) favorite. Give it a try with a recipe from Stockpiling Moms.
Soup is a wonderful meal to make in advance because it can warm all day in a crockpot, sit in the fridge and be reheated for dinner, or freeze in batches for quick meals later. Add a salad and a loaf of crusty bread and you've got yourself a meal you can be proud of. One kid-friendly soup option I've found can be adapted for picky eaters is potato soup. If you want a cheesy, not-super-calorie-friendly, but very easy route, try this crockpot potato soup option and feel free to load up on bacon toppings. Vegans or those wanting a little healthier option can check out this creamy potato soup made with vegetable broth.
Do you have a favorite make-ahead meal?