Prep for No-Cook Nights

It’s September, the days are getting shorter, school and sports are back in session and days are feeling busier. Preparing dinners every night of the week can feel like just one more thing on your to-do list, but present you can help future you save time by preparing a few items to keep on hand for quick meals.

First and foremost, a well-stocked pantry will help you plan what’s for dinner before you walk through the door. Our post about pantry staples is a good place to start, giving you some ideas on what to start with.

  • Keep washed and cut fruit and vegetables in clear containers front and center in the fridge – you’ll see them when you open the door and use them in meals and snacks
  • Rely on frozen foods – you don’t have to cook every single thing on your plate and frozen vegetables are affordable and healthy
  • Utilize leftovers – when you do have time to cook, make extra and use leftovers for lunches or freeze them for dinnertime reheating
  • Keep it simple – think of meals as three parts – protein, veggie and starch – and stay away from recipes with too many ingredients

A few cooked ingredients in the fridge and freezer are easy to grab, reheat and add into recipes.

  • Protein
    • Meat – Take advantage of sales and buy meat in bulk packaging. Cook in the oven and allow to cool. Cut into smaller pieces and freeze or refrigerate in containers, or wrap the pieces whole. Just make sure to label what it is!
    • Eggs – Hard boiled, they’re excellent on sandwiches, in salads or just by themselves. Put eggs in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, allow to cook for 1 minute then cover and remove from heat. Allow to rest for 15 minutes, then drain and cool eggs under running water.
  • Grains (you an defrost these in the refrigerator, microwave or on the stove with a little water)
    • Pasta – Cook until just under done, cool in a colander under running water. Lay it out flat on a sheet pan and toss with a little olive oil (to prevent sticking). Allow to cool, then portion into sealable bags and freeze flat.
    • Rice, Couscous, Quinoa and other grains – Cook until done, run a sheet pan under water (the water will prevent the grain from sticking) then scoop it out onto the pan. Spread it evenly and allow it to cool, 10-15 minutes. Portion into resealable bags and freeze flat.
    • Written by Adriene Worthington, RDN, LDN