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Make-ahead meals

Your family needs to eat and, despite the seemingly convenient drive-thru and microwave dinner approaches, your family needs to eat healthfully. Fixing and freezing recipes for every meal of the day gives you a tasty array of homemade dishes that can be quickly reheated – taken on the go or enjoyed at home. Here are three make-ahead back to school meals that will keep your family well-fed and ease you of the food prep pressure that comes with busy family schedules.

Brown sugar waffles

Cinnamon brown sugar oat waffles

Makes 12 waffles


  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/4 cups nonfat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Preheat waffle iron. Place oats in a food processor and whir for 30 seconds or until coarsely ground. Add flours, milk powder, cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Pulse until well combined.
  2. In a large bowl with a spout, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and butter until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until well combined.
  3. Generously spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour about 1-1/2 cups batter onto the center of the waffle iron. Close lid and cook until waffles are golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

To Freeze:

Cut each large waffle into four squares. Place on a baking sheet in one layer and freeze until firm. Transfer to a gallon-sized freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing.

To Reheat:

Place frozen waffles in the toaster or place waffles on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes or until heated through.

Chipotle papaya beef burritos

Makes 8 to 10 burritos

Freeze ahead burrito


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1-1/2 cups diced ripe papaya
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 8 to 10 (8- or 10-inch) whole grain flour tortillas


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion and cook, stirring often to break up beef, until beef is browned and onion is soft. Add garlic, salt, pepper, chipotle, cumin, and coriander, and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in papaya and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until fruit is softened. Stir in cilantro and goat cheese. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. For each burrito, place beef filling in the center of the tortilla and fold the top and bottom edges over, then roll burrito-style.

To Freeze:

Tightly wrap each burrito with freezer wrap or plastic wrap and place in a gallon-sized freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing.

To Reheat:

The night before, place desired number of burritos in the refrigerator to thaw. Individual burritos may be heated in the microwave on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.

Coconut crusted chicken strips

Serves 8


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray 2 rimmed baking sheets with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. With the smooth side of a mallet, or the bottom of a wide skillet, lightly pound chicken breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Cut them into 1-inch wide strips. Set aside.
  3. In a wide shallow dish, whisk together flour, coconut, salt, pepper, cayenne, and oregano. In a second shallow dish, beat eggs.
  4. Dip chicken strips in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off, then coat on all sides in coconut mixture. Set on baking sheet. Spray chicken strips with olive oil cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating pans after 12 to 13 minutes, or until coating is toasted and chicken is cooked through. Let cool completely.

To Freeze:

Place chicken strips on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer chicken strips to gallon-sized freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing.

To Reheat:

Let chicken strips thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken strips on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through.

More fix and freeze breakfast ideas

Make ahead breakfast pizza

Pizza made with eggs, cheese (and mushrooms) can be a great substitute for an omelet for Breakfast or Brunch. This step-by-step video explains how to make a delicious “breakfast pizza”.

More time-saving recipes

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