Make-ahead recipes for busy back to school schedules

Sep 26, 2011 at 12:50 p.m. ET

The lazy days of summer are over and the jam-packed school schedule has taken over your time. Getting a healthy meal on the table can seem like an impossible feat…until you stock your freezer with make-ahead meals that can be reheated in 30 minutes or less and have minimal clean up! Here are three of my favorite make-ahead recipes for busy family schedules.

Hot and Spicy Borboa Goulash

Hot and spicy Borboa goulash

This is a hearty, belly warming family recipe that is featured in my cookbook Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy (Fair Winds, July 2011). Richly spiced meat, tomatoes and pasta shells deliciously come together for a comfort food meal that you can batch cook and freeze for a fast meal that reheats in 10 minutes.

Serves 8

Make-ahead meals made healthyIngredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta shells
  • 2 cups lima beans (or kidney beans if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add beef, pepper, onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring often, until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin and coriander, stirring to combine.
  2. Add stewed tomatoes and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for one to two minutes less than package directions. Drain and add to beef mixture. Stir in beans. If mixture seems too thick, stir in a 1/2 cup or so of water.
  4. Stir in cilantro and allow goulash to cool completely. Freeze in individual freezer and microwave safe containers or transfer completely cooled goulash to a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal and lay flat in a baking dish until frozen solid, then remove baking dish from freezer. Goulash will freeze for up to three months.
  5. To reheat: Let goulash thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Individual servings can be reheated in the microwave on high for two to three minutes, stirring every minute. Larger portions can be reheated on the stovetop in a large pot over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Veggie-Licious turkey burritos

The shredded carrots and tomato sauce in these burritos give the turkey filling the texture of pulled beef or pork without the calories or fat. Lima beans add a healthy dose of vegetable-based protein and fiber. This is another delicious and nutritious recipe from Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy!

Serves 10


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cups lima beans
  • 1-1/2 cups crumbled queso blanco cheese
  • 10 whole wheat flour tortillas


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion and ground turkey, stirring often, for five to six minutes or until turkey is browned and onion is softened.
  2. Stir in shredded carrots and cook, stirring often, for three minutes. Add raisins, tomato sauce, sage, cinnamon, parsley and lima beans, stirring to combine. Cook for two minutes then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  3. Divide turkey mixture among tortillas and sprinkle with cheese. Fold tortilla ends over and roll burrito-style.
  4. To freeze in individual servings, wrap each burrito with freezer wrap and place in a large freezer bag. To freeze for a crowd, place burritos on a bake sheet and freeze until solid, then set in an aluminum quarter-sheet cake pan and cover with freezer wrap. Burritos will freeze up to three months.
  5. To reheat, let burritos thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Microwave individual burritos on HIGH for 1-1/2 minutes or until heated through. To reheat multiple burritos in the oven, preheat to 350 degrees F., remove freezer wrap from the aluminum pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.

Homemade oatmeal blueberry toaster waffles

Boxed frozen waffles have nothing on these homemade wholesome make-ahead waffles. Time is short in the morning, but these waffles, which go straight from the freezer to the toaster, are ready in a couple of minutes and will keep your family healthfully well-fed.

Makes 12 waffles


  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, coarsely ground in a food processor
  • 2-1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries


  1. Preheat waffle iron. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, milk powder, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and butter. Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  3. Generously spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour about 1-1/2 cups batter onto waffle iron and generously sprinkle with blueberries.
  4. Close waffle iron lid and cook until waffles are golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.
  5. To freeze, place waffles on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm. Transfer to a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, then seal bag. Freeze up to two months.

More make-ahead meal ideas

Back to school make-ahead meals
Make ahead Thanksgiving recipes
How to organize a fix and freeze meal swap with your friends