<p>6 Easy Batch-Cooking Recipes for Busy Weeknights</p>

6 Easy Batch-Cooking Recipes for Busy Weeknights

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Freeze now, cook later. These easy recipes will save you time and money — and reduce food waste, too.

Cooking family dinners ahead of time (also called batch cooking or meal prep) won’t just save you time and money. When you freeze meals in advance and cook them as you need them, you’re also cutting down on food waste by preserving food before it goes bad.

A staggering 40% of food in the United States is wasted — and most of this waste occurs in households, not restaurants or grocery stores. In addition to making a grocery list, eating leftovers and storing food in the right places in your fridge, batching and freezing meals reduces the amount of food you throw out, which in turn reduces methane emissions from landfills and conserves energy and resources used to grow, manufacture and transport food.

Batch Recipes to the Rescue

Check out six delicious, easy meals you can freeze in advance and cook (with little or no prep) when it’s time to eat. We’ve included instructions to make two to three batches of each meal. Each batch as written will serve a family of four, but you can divide the batches as desired to fit your family’s needs.

1. Freezer Lasagna

Yields: 2 batches; (2) 9-inch-by-13-inch pans of lasagna

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound Italian chicken sausage
1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce
(1) 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
7-8 lasagna noodles (a no-boil variety works best)
(1) 15-ounce container ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2-3 cups reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. In a large sauté pan, combine the ground beef, sausage, onion, garlic and salt, and cook on medium-high until crumbled and cooked through. Drain excess fat
  2. Stir in the marinara sauce, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool to room temperature
  3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and parsley flakes, stirring to combine
  4. Spray both 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pans with cooking spray. Spoon meat sauce onto the bottom of each pan
  5. Add two layers of lasagna noodles, cover with the meat sauce, dot with the ricotta cheese mixture and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Repeat this step once
  6. Before freezing, make sure lasagna is cool. Cover with a layer of aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 2 months
  7. When ready to eat, remove plastic wrap and cook, covered, for 45 minutes at 350 F

Tip: Post-dinner cleanup is made all the easier with Cascade. You won’t even need to rinse your baking pan after your family has devoured the lasagna — just put it in the dishwasher and let a Cascade Platinum ActionPac do the rest.

6 healthy freezer meals for busy weeknights - make ahead macaroni and cheese

2. Make-ahead Macaroni and Cheese

Yields: 2 batches; (2) 8-inch-by-8-inch pans of macaroni and cheese

Ingredients

2 cups fat-free milk
2 1/2 cups reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cups plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pepper to taste
5 cups cooked elbow macaroni

Instructions

  1. Combine the milk, cheddar cheese, yogurt, flour and pepper in a food processor or blender, blending until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the macaroni
  2. Spray two 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pans with cooking spray. Pour the noodle and cheese mixture into the pan
  3. Before freezing, make sure macaroni and cheese is completely cool. Cover pan with a layer of aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 2 months
  4. When ready to eat, remove plastic wrap and aluminum foil and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour at 350 F

6 healthy freezer meals for busy weeknights - steak and veggie kabobs

3. Steak and Veggie Kebabs

Yields: 2 batches; 32 kebabs

Ingredients

3 pounds rib-eye, sirloin or strip steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
2 medium red onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
32 (9- to 10-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water

Instructions

  1. Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, cumin, paprika and black pepper in a medium bowl. Toss the steak in this mixture until thoroughly coated in the spices, and set aside
  2. Combine the onion and bell peppers in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat
  3. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment paper. Add cubes of steak to 16 wooden skewers, and then cover them with another sheet of parchment paper
  4. Repeat with the remaining 16 wooden skewers and the veggies, alternating between onions and different-colored bell peppers on each skewer. Place these skewers on a separate baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  5. Freeze both baking sheets overnight. After the kebabs are frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheets and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Store in zip-top freezer bags (trim the wooden skewers if necessary) for up to 2 months
  6. When ready to eat, remove from foil and grill on medium-high. Cook kebabs undisturbed for 3 minutes, and then turn. Continue cooking and turning in this manner for about 12-15 minutes

6 healthy freezer meals for busy weeknights - twice baked potatoes

4. Twice-Baked Potatoes

Yields: 3 batches; 12 baked potatoes

Ingredients

12 large Idaho baking potatoes (about 5 lbs)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup 2% milk
3 ounces fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon black pepper
Toppings: Reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese, broccoli florets, chopped and cooked bacon

Instructions

  1. Wash potatoes thoroughly and pat dry with a Bounty Paper Towel 
  2. Place the potatoes on a large baking sheet and spray them generously with cooking spray, and sprinkle each potato with salt to taste
  3. Bake for 1 hour, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper, and mix well
  5. Carefully cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato inside, leaving a thin layer of potato on the skin
  6. Add the scooped potato to the butter and cream cheese mixture, and mix well. Add milk sparingly until the mixture is slightly stiff but not runny
  7. Cup the potato skin in your hand, and spoon the potato, butter and cream mixture into each potato
  8. When potatoes are completely cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months
  9. When ready to eat, remove plastic wrap, place potatoes on a baking sheet, sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, broccoli florets and bacon, and bake for 45 minutes at 350 F

6 healthy freezer meals for busy weeknights - chicken and corn chowder

5. Chicken and Corn Chowder

Yields: 2 batches; 2 zip-top freezer bags

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped
(2) 15-ounce bags frozen kernel corn
(2) 15-ounce cans creamed corn
(2) 12-ounce cans nonfat evaporated milk
(2) 10-ounce cans cream of low-fat mushroom soup
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 lbs cooked, shredded chicken breast

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix well
  2. Carefully pour the soup into zip-top freezer bags (you may need an extra set of helping hands for this step). Remove all air from the bag and seal tightly
  3. Freeze for up to 2 months
  4. When ready to eat, remove the frozen soup from the bag (you may need to cut it open) and cook in a slow cooker for 2 to 3 hours on low. You can also heat the soup on the stovetop: Add the frozen soup and 1/4 cup of water to a large stock pot and heat on medium, stirring frequently

6 healthy freezer meals for busy weeknights - swedish meatballs

6. Swedish Meatballs

Yields: 3 batches; 66 meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

3 lbs lean ground beef
3 large eggs
3 onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 celery stalks, minced
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon allspice

Sauce

2 cups reduced-sodium beef stock
2 ounces light cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pans with aluminum foil and spray generously with cooking spray
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, eggs, onion, garlic, celery, parsley, breadcrumbs, allspice, salt and pepper until well-blended. Shape into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter, and place them on the prepared pans
  3. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 F. Remove and let cool completely. Store in zip-top freezer bags for up to 2 months
  4. When ready to eat, remove about 20 meatballs from the freezer bag. Add beef stock to a sauté pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add meatballs to the broth
  5. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through
  6. Remove the meatballs from the stock and set aside. In a blender, combine the stock with the cream cheese and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan and simmer until slightly thickened

Tip: After dinner, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheet to easily clean sauce splatters from your stovetop. The sheets are thin, flexible and great for cleaning greasy stovetop knobs and other hard-to-reach places.

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