Part of the reason that pasta is such a family favorite is that it’s also the household head cook’s sanity saver as well. Whether it’s Mom or Dad – or both! – doing the cooking during the week, pasta is a quick, easy and healthy option for busy families. Rather than just opening up a jar of spaghetti sauce however, I like to have a few delicious add-ons handy already pre-frozen in my freezer.
Here are a few of my favorite tricks to aid in some easy meal planning throughout the week!
1) Homemade & pre-made frozen meatballs
Having homemade meatballs stocked in your freezer ready to simply pre-heat will jazz up your spaghetti during the week. I’d like to pretend that we don’t eat spaghetti at least once a week, but I can’t. It’s a staple in our house and for good reason. Not only can you ensure that homemade meatballs have the ingredients you want and the flavour you like but the leftovers are the best school lunch of the week in my kids opinion. Try a Large Batch Make-Ahead Meatballs Recipe and tweak it to your liking.
2) Make-Ahead Frozen Spaghetti Sauce
I know, I know, you can get it from a jar. But what if I told you that you could really elevate that spaghetti sauce in a jar to a fabulous food level? When spaghetti sauce goes on sale, stock up on your favorite. My trick is to take three or four jars of my favorite sauce and put them into the biggest stock pot I have. Add in already cooked onions, red or green peppers and mushrooms, a pound or two of ground beef and I’ve even been known to throw in some black olives as well! Split the sauce between 4-5 large freezer safe sealed bags and lay flat to freeze. Now along with the meatballs you have a sauce that has extra vegetables that you can customize for your family’s tastes.
3) Make-Ahead Spiced Chicken Breasts
Adding chicken to a nice fettucine Alfredo is the simplest and healthiest way to spice up a meal. It adds a heavy serving of protein to the meal that balances nicely with the richness of the sauce. To pre-make an easy lemon garlic chicken, simply take 4 fresh chicken breasts and combine in a large freezer safe bag with ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tbsp. lemon juice and 2 tsp minced garlic. Lay flat and freeze until needed! Then you simply take it out, place the chicken into a baking pan and cook at 350 degrees until done. You can do this with any spices or even Italian seasoning, Greek seasoning – the list is endless!
A freezer full of proteins and amped up spaghetti sauces makes pasta meal planning as easy as pie. It helps save my sanity on nights when we are busy, like Wednesdays when we have Scouts and Cubs starting at the same time and Mike and I have to be in two different places at once! Pasta is our usual Wednesday night meal and having half the meal already prepped and ready in the freezer saves my sanity. Usually.
What are your tip and tricks to making pasta a fast and healthy meal for your family? Share them with me below as well as on social media using the #CatelliFamilies hashtag so I can see all your favourite tips and tricks.
Happy cooking everyone!
Although this post has been generously sponsored by Catelli, the opinions and words remain my own.”