So, now it's December and more holiday madness. I'm gearing up for more baking and I plan to do a lot of make ahead meals because I have found that between holiday functions, shopping and my heavy baking workload, it's best to have meals ready to go in the freezer. Our budget is always tight and I'd rather spend the money on gifts or the supplies I need for my homemade gifts than eating out. So this week I've got some recipes that are good for making ahead.
Speaking of homemade gifts- I have a little list with just a few ideas for easy homemade gifts from your kitchen. They are perfect for teacher gifts or for friends and neighbors. Get children involved and have it be their gift to grandparents or their classmates.
Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas
Meals for the Week of December 5, 2011
Easy Shepherd’s Pie- This is a great dish for using leftover mashed potatoes or make the parts of this dish separately in advance. You can cook the beef part in advance and then just assemble the casserole and bake. You can also easily swap out the ground beef and broth for ground turkey and chicken or vegetable broth. A different flavor profile, but it’s leaner and just as filling.
Vegetable Fried Rice- Quick, easy, inexpensive and you can throw in leftovers like chopped turkey or green beans.
Turkey Cobb Salad- All the parts of this salad except the avocado could be prepped in advance. Makes it so easy to just assemble and eat.
Black Bean and Tortilla Bake- Vegetarian and low calorie dish. Inexpensive ingredients and you can make variations to suit your tastes.
Veggie Tacos- This recipe is so adaptable. Use whatever fresh vegetables you like then just follow the instructions for seasoning and preparing the tortillas.
Cheesy Fish Sticks- A healthy fish stick that kids will love. Tilapia can work well for this as well as cod. You can also use these with the veggie tacos to have your own crispy fish tacos.
Baked Polenta Pie- Assemble this in advance in a disposable foil pan, put in the freezer and save it for a busy night, just bake and eat. Feel free to change up the sausages/meats to use whatever you prefer. YUM!
Cold Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken- If you just take an hour one weekend or even just multi-task while making dinner one night, cook up a bunch of chicken breasts and then shred the meat and freeze it. Then dishes like this are easy on a weeknight.
Beef, Cheese and Noodle Bake- Substitute with ground turkey and use whole grain elbow macaroni to lower the fat and increase the healthy carbs.
Ravioli and Vegetable Soup- Very easy soup, low calorie, but I like that it's not just a noodle, but a more filling ravioli. Great for making a big batch ahead of time and then having it for a couple meals throughout the month.