Make-ahead, money-saving meals

It’s autumn, and that means busier schedules as kids go back to school, whether in person or virtually. So, what better time to simplify meal preparation? With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a few make-ahead, budget-friendly recipes for you to try as you face the frenzy of fall. 

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Mix together:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

  • 1 can black beans, drained (14-ounce)

  • 1 can refried beans (14-ounce)

  • 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce

  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese 

Stuff mixture into six to eight large hollowed out fresh bell peppers and then freeze.

Bake from frozen at 400 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes, covered. Finish by melting extra cheese on top. Serve with guac, sour cream, cilantro, hot sauce and your favorite condiments.

Beef Ragu

Freeze together:

  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 cup mirepoix, fresh or frozen

  • 2 pounds flank steak or beef chuck, cut into 4 pieces 

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28-ounce)

  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme

  • 2 bay leaves 

Add the frozen ingredients to an instant pot. For beef chuck, 65 minutes on high pressure plus 10 minutes natural release. For top sirloin, 45 minutes on high pressure plus 10 minutes natural release. You can also use a slow cooker and cook ingredients from thawed for six hours on high.

Finally, shred meat and serve with any number of easy sides like pasta, baked potatoes, polenta, rice, cauliflower rice, gnocchi or zucchini noodles.

Tandoori Coconut Chicken

Freeze together:

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 tablespoons garam masala

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk 

Add the frozen ingredients to an instant pot, cooking 15 minutes on high pressure plus 20 minutes natural release. If using a slow cooker, cook from thawed for four hours on high.

Serve in rice bowls with roasted vegetables, cauliflower rice, or use as taco or burrito filler.

These are just a few easy and low-cost meal ideas. Apply some creativity to come up with a few of your own as well!

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