Hey Good Lookin, What Cha Got Cookin?

I tried something new a couple weeks ago.  I was a little nervous about how everything might have worked out, but in the end, it was a success.  What did I do?  I planned ahead and even prepared meals ahead of time!!!! Now this may sound like it’s no big deal, and maybe for you it isn’t, but for me it is quite an accomplishment!!

I have wanted to do this for a while now, in an effort to try and help myself out during the week.  By the time I get home from work, all I want to do is lie down and put my swollen feet up.  There is such a small window between the time I get home and bed time that the thought of preparing a meal is furthest from my mind.  So a couple weekends ago I decided to try the whole “make-ahead meals” thing out.

I started by finding a few recipes that I could use similar ingredients in, and that were able to be assembled ahead of time and then cooked later.  I made my grocery list, and headed out to the store on a Saturday to get everything together.  On Sunday, I started to put everything together.

The first recipe I made was for Chicken Bacon Chowder.  I decided to start with this one because it needed to be cooked in a crock pot.  So I could have it cooking all day while I prepped the other two recipes.  Then that afternoon when it was about done cooking, I could divide it into glass bowls to have individual servings ready to go for the next couple of days.  I decided that would also be dinner for Sunday night.

The next recipe was for Spinach Artichoke Chicken.  I love spinach artichoke dip, so I was sure this would be one super delicious meal!  I even made the mayo from scratch!  The instructions called to bake the chicken part way, then add the spinach artichoke topping and bake some more.  What I did was bake the chicken most of the way through, let it cool, then added the topping and stuck it in the fridge to be completed a few days later.

The third and final dish was some Cheese and Veggie Cakes.  If you know me, you know that I do not like veggies very much, but this called for lots of cheese and bacon so I thought it would help cover the taste of the non-fruits.  I used zucchini and carrots for my veggies.  This one took some extra prep because you have to drain the liquid out of the veggies for several hours before hand.  In this case I prepped the veggies and stuck them in the fridge with salt to have them drain overnight, then I just mixed the rest of the ingredients, minus the eggs, in a separate bowl so all I would need to do is combine the three and cook when I was ready later on in the week.  . Now when it finally came down to cooking these, I had a little trouble.  Since I don’t have a griddle pan – yet- I decided to try cooking these in my cast iron skillet.  That did not work out as well as I had hoped it would.  Thankfully, not all was lost; I only tried a few out so I had plenty of mixture left over to cook the rest in the oven.

Despite not having a griddle, the third recipe ended up being the most successful.  Both my husband and my daughter loved the veggie cakes!!  SCORE!!!  My daughter actually finished a whole one in one sitting, and she normally eats more healthful foods like a bird.  So I have been told that should be made again.  My husband enjoyed the first 2 recipes as well of course, but he generally likes anything I cook for him. 🙂

I have learned that planning and prepping ahead isn’t as daunting a task as I had thought it was, and it made cooking throughout the week a breeze.  I’m sure that if I could make a habit of this, it would really help out towards the end of this pregnancy and especially after baby Camp is born!

If you are interested in checking out these recipes, here are the links to my Pinterest:

Chicken Bacon Chowder

Spinach Artichoke Chicken

Cheese and Veggie Cakes

Have you ever tried preparing ahead-of-time meals?  What was your experience?  Any tips and/or tricks to share?  Please comment below, or on my facebook page.

Thank you very much for reading!!

Jenn