By: Julia Warren
We'll do almost anything to reclaim a bit of our weeknight time-except sacrifice a delicious dinner. Get the best of both worlds by using a make-ahead recipe: Do most of the work when you have time, like on weekends, and put just a few finishing touches on your dish when you're ready to eat. Here are five time-saving strategies to get your dinnertime off to a running start.
Freeze then reheat.
Soups are great meal options to store in the freezer and reheat on the fly. For safe freezing, cool the soups to room temperature first. Storing them in freezer-grade quart bags are great space savers in this scenario.
Keep vegetables and grains in mind when deciding what to prepare on a weekend. Precooked ingredients like rice and quinoa can be quickly reinvigorated with a bit of heat and a splash of chicken broth.
Related: 12 Make-Ahead Appetizers
Marinating meat is a hands-off way to inject flavor into a recipe. If the marinade is acid-free, you can keep meat in it for up to three days, but if you've added a bit of vinegar or citrus juice into the mix, don't marinate for longer than a day (the acid will break down the protein and affect the final texture of the dish-like ceviche gone rogue). After marinating, you can cook the resulting liquid down to a sauce.
Assemble then bake.
Put together a dish that freezes in its entirety, like a casserole. It will be ready for you to pop it in the oven when you need a no-fuss hot meal. The only thing you'll need to do night-of is preheat the oven.
Related: 27 Easy Casserole Dishes
Just toss with sauce.
Pasta is one of the ultimate time-saving and versatile ingredients. Prepare different sauces and pestos ahead of time so that boiling water is the only thing left to do before dinner. Pesto can be stored under a layer of oil in the fridge for up to a week. Get creative and think of different herb options so you can grab whatever strikes you in the moment.
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