When life gets hectic, the last thing you want to do is worry about what to make for dinner.
The solution is not dialing for take-out or hitting the drive-thru. It’s taking just a little bit of time to prepare for those busy nights.
The new cookbook Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch by Alea Milham is a comprehensive guide to helping you do just that.
Each chapter of this beautiful, full-color cookbook begins with several options for batch cooking. If you’ve never done batch cooking, it’s a terrific way to speed up the dinner-making process. Basically, it involves cooking large batches of food and then freezing them for when you need them. Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch is different from other batch cooking cookbooks in that you’re not spending an afternoon batch cooking a dozen different dishes. Instead, she teaches you how to batch cook your favorite meats, rice and beans to use in recipes. With the main part of a meal done in advance, getting the rest of dinner put together is easy. This method allows for a little more versatility for meal planning. You can pick the protein and then decide what to make with it based on what you have on hand.
For example, the section with chicken recipes outlines six different ways you can prepare a large batch of chicken to use in recipes, so you can choose the method that works best for you. There are also batch cooking instructions for pork, beef, rice and beans, and prep-ahead tips for vegetables. Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch also includes a chapter with recipes for frugal pantry staples like seasoning mixes, salad dressings and sauces.
With three hungry kids and a spouse, I’ve tried a lot of batch cooking recipes and methods, but what sets Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch from the others is the quality of the ingredients. This is not a ‘dump 3 cans of cream of whatever soup’ cookbook. The ingredients are wholesome and affordable, and the recipes are things your family will enjoy. There is even information for how to make the recipes gluten-free if that is a concern.
I’ve followed Milham’s food and frugal living blog Premeditated Leftovers for several years and she knows how to create family-friendly and affordable meals. Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch is a great addition to your kitchen to help you answer that age old question, “What’s for dinner?”
I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into this cookbook, by sharing a recipe I made for my family. This Skillet Scalloped Potatoes With Ham and Peas (shared with permission from page 54 in Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch) was delicious and simple to make. I got the potatoes on sale and loved being able to use the leftover ham I had in my freezer.
Skillet Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Peas
Recipe From Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch By Alea Milham
PREP-AHEAD TIP: You can cut the onions and potatoes 1 – 2 days in advance if you wish. Store the onions in a sealed container. Store the potato slices in a bowl, covered with water.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup onion, cut into strips
- 6 medium red potatoes, cut into thin slices
- 2/3 cup vegetable broth (page ) or water
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt**
- Dash of pepper
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup diced ham
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
** The recipe for seasoned salt is in the cookbook. It’s basically this recipe, but without the dried kelp.
1. Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat until the onions are tender and just beginning to brown.
2. Spread the potatoes over the onions. Pour the broth over the potatoes and cook over a medium heat until the broth begins to boil.
3. Lower the heat, sprinkle the spices over the tops of the potatoes, put a lid on the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, flip the potatoes over. Cover again and cook until potatoes are fork tender, approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and a small portion of the milk together. Slowly add milk while whisking continuously to remove any lumps.
5. Add the ham, peas and milk mixture to the potatoes. Cook uncovered over a medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and the ham and peas are heated through.
If you’re tired of trying to figure out what to make for dinner (or tired of eating junk!), pick up a copy of Prep-Ahead Meals From Scratch. It’s a great introduction to getting healthy, budget-conscious and delicious meals on the table more easily.
While Page Street Publishing Co. did provide me with a review copy of this book, the opinions expressed here are 100 percent my own and were not edited by the publisher, author(s), or their affiliates. This post also contains affiliate links which help support this blog at no additional cost to you. Please read my full disclosure policy for more information.