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Make-ahead meals to fix and freeze

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Make-ahead meals

Looking for savory ways to save time in the kitchen while keeping you and your family well-fed? Sandra Lee, star of Semi-Homemade Cooking on the Food Network and author of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals suggests meals that you can make-ahead and freeze for those days when you can't spend your afternoon preparing the family dinner. Here are some helpful tips and three mouthwatering make-ahead meals.

Meatballs and Tomato Gravy

Serves 4


For tomato gravy:
1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons crushed garlic


For meatballs:
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Hot cooked pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Preparation and freezing directions:
1. For tomato gravy, in a large straight-side skillet, combine marinara, wine, broth, oregano and garlic. Simmer, uncovered, on low to medium heat while you prepare meatballs.


2. For meatballs, in a large bowl, combine bread crumbs and milk and soak for 5 minutes. Add ground beef, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, mixing well. Wet your hands to keep mixture from sticking to them and roll into 1-1/2-inch meatballs (you should have about 30).


3. Raise heat under sauce to medium. When sauce is almost boiling, carefully drop meatballs into sauce. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid. Simmer for 5 minutes more.


4. Serve over hot cooked pasta or prepare to freeze. If freezing, cool for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to freezer container and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Cool completely in refrigerator. Once cool, remove foil and cover tightly with lid. Label and freeze.


Thawing and reheating instructions:
Thaw meatballs completely in refrigerator. Transfer to a large skillet and bring to a boil. If necessary, thin sauce with beef broth. Serve with hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if using.
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