We’re back to a busy fall schedule. Whether your work days seem fuller or the kids have more activities, it’s always a challenge to get food on the table. You can avoid expensive takeout and unhealthy fast food by focusing on simple recipe-planning this fall. It’s actually not too hard to get organized and work off of a weekly plan. After doing it for more than eight years for my family of five, fall has come to mean easy-to-prep and delicious-to-eat casseroles. They are perfect to prep ahead. Here is how to get started:
Take some time over the weekend to plan out one week’s worth of dishes. By shopping just once for all the ingredients you’ll need, you save both time and money and avoid multiple shopping trips during the week. Planning ahead also means you can move dishes that need more prep to nights when you have a little more time.
Prep your family’s favorite casserole recipes over the weekend. Then it’s easy to pop one in the oven for a hearty dinner-time on a busy weeknight. You can even prepare and store some casseroles in resealable freezer bags up to a month ahead of time. Recipes like this Creamy Ham Casserole, with pasta and broccoli, can be prepped right up until the baking step in the directions. Freeze it after writing the baking directions right on the bag. On the night you’re ready to bake it, thaw in the fridge during the day and add 10-15 minutes to the bake time to be sure it’s heated through.
Plan ahead for dishes you can double up. For example, prepare chicken and rice for one night, and make enough extra for planned leftovers. Those leftovers can serve as the basis for a casserole later in the week. This Creamy Chicken & Rice Casserole is easy to prepare when you already have the cooked chicken and cooked rice on hand in the fridge. Cream cheese provides a luscious sauce for the casserole with amazing flavor.
By practicing these planning skills every week, you’ll get the hang of the process and eventually come up with a repertoire of recipes that your family loves. Don’t be afraid to repeat dishes (or whole weeks) throughout the fall—it makes serving simple!