--> A few months ago I came across a online ad wherein the individual was looking for someone to make her lunches during an especially busy time of the year. I replied, met with her, and have been making soups, stews and salads for her ever since. My regular cooking schedule allows me to make fresh meals each night with very little leftovers so this was an entirely new way of cooking for me. It is beneficial for me though because it stocks my fridge and freezer with soup and salads that see us through the weekday lunch crisis. I have learnt a few things from this catering experience which, if you make your meals ahead of time, might be useful to you.
Multiples: Make cooking and shopping easier (and cheaper) by choosing recipes that include a few repeating ingredients. For example, one could make a blended sweet potato soup, a black bean and sweet potato stew, and a black bean salad.
Do not stop: Commit to cooking until all the meals are complete. This will motivate you to work faster and to make time efficient choices. If you spread out the cooking over the whole afternoon, you will get bored and cooking will become a chore.
Store: To store your made ahead meals you have two choices: fridge or freezer. Store the majority of your meals in the freezer just in case your plans for the week changes. There is nothing more disappointing (to the psyche and the pocketbook) than chucking fridge stored salads!
Recipes: Collect cookbooks that have a wide variety of interesting soup and stew recipes to aid in your make ahead meals. I recommend Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special which has recipes for more than 275 Soups, Stews and Salads.
Variety: If you make an exceptionally big batch of one type of food you will most likely experience palate fatigue. Portion, label and freeze the soup. Develop a rotational plan so nothing languishes in the freezer for a year!
Do you make ahead meals? What are your tips?