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4 Make-ahead meals to fix and freeze that make dinner a breeze

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...

Use these tips and recipes for make-ahead meals that are perfect for busy weeknights

Looking for savory ways to save time in the kitchen while keeping you and your family well-fed? Fixing and freezing meals is an easy way to always have scrumptious dishes ready to reheat and serve. Here are some helpful tips and three mouthwatering make-ahead meals.

Meatballs and tomato gravy recipe

Serves 4


For the 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 the 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 directions:

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

Next: Make-ahead meals to fix and freeze — pork chops and apples

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