Feed a few or a farm with plan-ahead meals

Getting a leg up on meal preparation can be a huge timesaver. Not to mention, it lets you take advantage of bulk pricing or seasonal sales that - with an afternoon and some determination - continue to pay off for months to come. It's also a handy alternative to canning, especially if you have freezer space to spare. 

Preparing and freezing popular meals ahead of time always sounds like a good idea, but doesn't it seem like the dinner fairies conspire against us and between missing ingredients, interruptions, and the dangers of freezer burn, it just never seems to work out. Well not anymore.

Here are a few ways to make preparing a month's worth of Sunday dinners a help rather than a headache. Get motivated and view photos of maximizing your meal prep time investment in the gallery.

Dehydrate leftovers

Don’t throw away leftover spices or veggies, no matter how small of a quantity you have. Toss everything on a food dehydrator overnight for a fast and nutrient rich way to enhance rice, soups, spreads and more.

Don’t forget side dishes

Potatoes stuffed with sour cream (or a non-dairy substitute), cheese, chives and bacon keep for up to a year in the freezer and are great to have on hand for a quick side dish with salads, grilled meats and veggies.

Fresh matters

Fresh herbs really do make a difference, especially when you are making meals ahead of time and plan to store for a while.

Be patient

Take the time now to let foods simmer. Develop the flavors now and nobody will be able to tell they’re eating last summer’s garden spoils.

Make-ahead mirepoix

Sauté celery, onions, carrots, portabellas and shitake mushrooms in olive oil and butter to create a classic base that you can freeze and thaw as needed. Mushrooms add an extra protein punch and give the mirepoix an earthy undertone perfect for rustic recipes.

Share your tips

If you have a never-fail (or mostly-works) shortcut or dinner hack, leave it in the comments section or share it via Facebook or Twitter and you could be featured in a future blog post!