Note: All items need to be prepared in advance and stored properly in refrigerator. Because we want to provide super quick options for super busy families, ingredients included in this chart require 30 min. or less of advance prep work or can be cooked in a crockpot overnight. Any and all ingredients can be switched out to fit individual needs and/or tastes. This chart is merely a jumping off point for the imagination. 2nd Note: Some have used this advance prep as a date with marvelous results. Cooking together is reported to be quite romantic for some couples and appears to rank high for date ideas.
Also, salads and pasta dishes can be prepared and stored in mason jars for super duper quick grab and go meal options. Attaching eating utensils to the side of the jar with tape, or some other way, would enable children to pack their own lunches with ease. Note for when using salad dressing in salads with greens and/or pasta: the quality of the salad may be diminished by adding dressings too far in advance. They can be added in advance but may result in soggy salads if too long a time between their addition and eating occurs. Different dressings produce different results. Unfortunately, some of what works best can only be discovered by experience.
Okay, here's how this works. Take 30 minutes early in the week, many choose Sunday afternoon, and prepare/cook desired ingredients. This won't likely take over an hour and may be completed in as little as half that time. Once ingredients have been prepared and cooled, place in desired storage container and store in refrigerator. When meal time rolls around, grab a base, choose a protein, throw in/on your veggies and/ add-ins, toss them together, or layer them on a platter, and viola' ! You and your family are eating a meal in 10 min. or less. Choosing to wait until actual meal time to cook the meat/protein may increase kitchen to table time. However, if cooking sliced or chopped meats, the meal can still clock in at 30 min. or under, even if you make your own salad dressing/sauce from scratch!
Another option, except for some of the greens, is to choose your ingredients and create a soup by adding broth or vegetable juice and heating in a pot. If using ingredients cooked in advance, soup too is possible in 30 minutes or less. How comforting would that be on a cold wintry night when served with a side of crusty bread and/or fresh salad?
- pasta of choice
- salad greens
- dried beans
- any other family favorite: veggie noodles, egg noodles, etc.
- Steak - can be grilled or prepared according to family preferences in advance OR sliced/cubed while uncooked then quickly cooked in pan for immediate use (Could consider marinating with sauces or rubs that fit family taste preferences)
- wild game
- family favorite
- too many choices to list individually!
- vegetables: chopped, minced, sliced, cubed, grated, cook or uncooked
- Spices: innumerable options
- Sauces: meat, tomato, cheese, white, Alfredo
- Fried egg
- shredded cheese
- crushed chips
Using this approach for creating meals can also allow leftovers to be re-served in original new ways that hopefully won't elicit groans from those eating. Every family has seasons when preparing meals isn't able to take a lot of time. Thankfully, those seasons don't last forever. There will be days for simmering, stirring, and chopping for hours, if a person wants. When that isn't possible and time isn't there, a healthy quick option exists. Family meal time need not be sacrificed on the altar of busy.
To super quick meals and those who eat them!