4 ways to make dinner

by Laura on October 17, 2011

in daily life, food, recipes, Tonights Dinner

Good morning mi amigos/amigas! How was your weekend?

Mine was busy, as usue. I went to the Rangers game Saturday night and watched them clinch the World Series. It was literally the best baseball game I’ve ever been to in my life and made me so proud to be from Texas and to have grown up watching the Rangers and going to Ranger’s games.

And of course, we are ecstatic the Rangers are facing the Cardinals in the world series! This is Matt’s favorite team and I can’t even explain in words the happiness he is exuding right now about them coming to Texas and us somehow finding tickets to go watch them play!

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The rest of the weekend was spent on various tasks, one of which I’d like to share with y’all today!

I’ve posted several times over the past month or so some shortcuts I’m taking to ensure I’m eating healthy meals with my hectic schedule. I spent about 3 hours on Sunday prepping four dinners for this week (through Wednesday). I have four different variations of meal preparation to share with all of you.

1. Cook and eat

This is the typical method we all know. I made a pan of Sarah’s Lentil Enchiladas for dinner last night. The great thing about this recipe is it can also be made ahead of time, stored in the fridge or freezer, then baked when you are ready to eat.

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I live in Texas and grew up eating Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food. These enchiladas are literally the best I’ve ever had. I love that they are so filling, so cheesy and so delicious – while also vegetarian and full of plant protein and fiber. If you haven’t made these enchiladas yet, DO IT.

Also remember that when you cook, you can always make extra to eat later in the week. These enchiladas made both a dinner and a lunch for us both.

I made Sparkpeople’s Scalloped Potatoes a few days ago as a side dish and enjoyed a serving with a sandwich for lunch yesterday and we still have a serving left in the fridge for one of us to eat this week.

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Looks weird, tastes delicious :) So eat those leftovers people!

2. Make ahead and refrigerate

This can be done with any casserole or similar recipe. I made Cooking Light’s Squash Rice casserole and added chicken and broccoli, subbing greek yogurt for the sour cream.  Matt asked me to make him a pan of this casserole, which is one of his favorites, to eat on the side of turkey sandwiches or as a quick dinner this week. He loves those stealth veggies.

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My tip for making casseroles ahead of time is to mark on the foil what the casserole is and what temperature and amount of time the casserole needs for preparation. This ensures that if someone else in your house is cooking the casserole, they won’t have to check with you first.

Here are some great casserole recipes I love for making ahead of time and cooking later (other than the ones mentioned above):

3. Prepare separate ingredients for crock pot cooking

I love my crock pot and I really suggest if you don’t use one very often, look into it! They are so easy and nothing is better than coming home to a crock pot full of amazing food for you eat right away.

I’m making two meals in crock pot this week, but I prepped only one – Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew. This recipe is from the new Sparkpeople cookbook (I’m obsessed, literally) – so I can’t share it. However, I’ll definitely let y’all know how it turned out!

I browned my sausage and cut my carrots and onions last night. This morning I’ll just throw these into my crock pot along with the other ingredients (coming from cans or spice jars). So easy!

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If you are looking for other crock pot recipes, here’s a post summarizing some of my favorites. And here’s another post with a great recipe. My favorite way to use my crock pot is to cook chicken breasts and then shred after. This chicken can be used for tacos, burritos, salads, sandwiches, etc throughout the entire week!

4. Prep to grill later

This week we’re having chicken barbeque burgers one night, so I went ahead and mixed up the burgers and formed the patties. Matt is getting home before I am, so he’ll just crank up the grill and cook these. On the side, we’ll have some frozen sweet potato fries for a perfect, quick meal.

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I sprayed both the plate and the foil with olive oil spray to prevent any sticking for the patties. Again, I wrote on the top of the foil what was inside so Matt would know which container to pull out of the fridge.

This can be done with meats or veggies – just throw into a zip lock bag with your marinade. You can also make foil packets for both meats and veggies and keep those in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Just be careful of using acids for a marinade for your meats – the acid will break down the meat after they are together for several hours. You can always add your acid later.


In addition to prepping these meals ahead of time – if you track your food using sparkpeople, weight watchers or another program – I suggest you put the recipes into your tracking service ahead of time so they are already in. This saves you the hassle of tracking later, keeps you on track because you know what you’ll be eating and allows you to know how your pre-prepped meal will fit into your eating schedule.

I put all of these meals into my weight watchers tracker and I’m all set with lunches and dinners until Thursday evening!

Of course there are many other ways to ensure you’re eating healthy when you’re busy, but there are four tactics I used this week to keep me on track.

If you have any great make-ahead or pre-pre recipes, please share in the comments for us! I hope you all have a healthy and happy week!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Diana @ VeggieNextDoor October 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Very impressive! I love cooking a big meal on Sunday night for leftovers during the week, but after one or two recipes, I’m exhausted! I’m impressed you are able to prepare 4 dinners in 1 night!


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