Easy Cooking Timesavers You Can Make Ahead
My freezer has a section with busy days in mind. In that section are minestrone soup, lasagna, stuffed peppers, meatloaf—the kinds of things that I listed previously as ideal for leftovers. Some of it has a plan in mind (eat tonight). Others are for those days when everything goes crazy, and we're late, tired, and a bit cranky.
It's an irony of life that on a day when we most need a good, relaxing meal, we're least likely to get it. Unless we're prepared. When a bit of extra time is available, therefore, try to capitalize by preparing for such busy days.
I can't predict the future, but I can guess that there are time's when I'll need not just good food quickly, but good food instantly. In the following chapters you'll also find Prepare Ahead selections. Some of these selections in-volve preparing ingredients in large quantities to cover future use (without taking any extra time at all). Others involve making an entire entrée in large quantities that are ready quickly, or even immediately, when you need them and don't have time to do anything more than fire up the defrost on the microwave.
Just to be clear about my idea of “make ahead,” these dishes likely take a bit more time to cook (therefore, better to make on, say, Sunday night), but then take almost no time to heat and serve later. Lasagna, featured here, is a good example. It takes a bit more than 20 minutes to put together and then needs to cook for about an hour. (Still, your actual work time stays reasonable.) The dividends come the next day (and the next, and the next …).
The secret to lasagna is layers; essentially meat, cheese, sauce, and pasta (plus anything interesting you like to slide in there). They're put into the large baking/casserole dish alternately.
More on: Cooking Tips and Basics
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to 20-Minute Meals © 2003 by CWL Publishing Enterprises, Inc., John Woods, President. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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