recipes that can be prepped, stored, and finished quickly?
August 5, 2018 10:03 AM   Subscribe

The Jay Rayner review on the blue has a throwaway comment about the following good restaurant trick: "That pork dish is built on the classic restaurant trick of getting all the hard work in early – the slow cooking, the shredding, the pressing – so you spin it quickly into something very pleasing on service." Can the hive mind recommend recipes like this for the home? Bonus points for cheap, high fiber, and good for once-a-week cooking.
posted by meaty shoe puppet to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Chili is great for this. Let it simmer all day Sunday for a quick mid-week meal. Then freeze the leftovers.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:19 AM on August 5, 2018

this is my go-to, "as if i'm back in PR" red beans recipe:

we usually make a triple batch and freeze.
posted by alchemist at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2018

Dal would work. And also a book recommendation - Good-Tempered Food by Tamasin Day-Lewis is about make-ahead food.
posted by paduasoy at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2018

Lasagna (could sub thinly sliced broiled zucchini for the noodles)
Cauliflower gratin (any gratin really)
posted by STFUDonnie at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2018

Chop up and caramelize a pound of onions ahead of time, and freeze it in little baggies — and then when you find an otherwise-quick recipe that is full of lies and claims you can caramelize an onion in five minutes, you can laugh and drop in an onion baggie from your freezer.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2018 [29 favorites]

Instant Pot carnitas (there's a slow-cooker recipe in the blog post), don't broil until just before serving (or don't broil at all - I pack it in lunches like pot roast) and Kalua pork (slow cooker version).

I think most people really just call this "meal prep" or "bulk cooking" and you'll find tons of recipes and strategies under that name. (Most other long-prep restaurant dishes are higher-dollar things like terrine and prime rib, lamb roasts etc.)

I make casseroles on Sundays to split between fridge and freezer for the week (really, when my momentum is good and I'm doing it every week, that means I've got a decent variety of items in the freezer for some novelty), and/or chili or meat/tomato sauce, which benefit from a long slow cook. I also make some vegetable dishes to eat as sides, like cauliflower mash, broccoli cheese casserole, vegetable curry. I'll prep chicken thighs in bags with oil and seasoning, or sous vide some steak, so they're ready to throw under the broiler or on the grill on the day.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick clarification: This is a form of meal prep, but most meal prep recipes produce a prepackaged meal that I at most microwave before eating.

For this question, I'm looking for recipes which have some assembly or final cooking before service.

So, sous vide meat which gets seared and sauced before service would count, but just warming up some chili or a lasagna does not.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 11:31 AM on August 5, 2018

The cookbook A New Way to Dinner is set up a bit like this - you cook pieces of meals through the week. I tried a few things from it and they were good. You can probably get it from your library if you want to try before committing.
posted by john_snow at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well, this would work with a lot of recipes. It’s really a question of dissecting steps and finding where you can make a break and cool things and refriedgerate or freeze them. And what things can be frozen or even just reheated and finished off, without losing too much flavour and texture.

So this could be all veg prep but not cooking. Or veg prep and partial cooking. Prepping your proteins, especially if that entails a lengthy cooking process such as pulled pork. The key is to find a point where the texture and taste won’t suffer if you stop and resume a few hrs or a days later.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:46 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Issuing the disclaimer that the following might possibly be anathema to those native to Louisiana....

I made up a pretty decent acceptable-for-my-own-dinners "gumbo base" out of the leftovers from a more elaborate dinner party. I'd made a batch of "gumbo z'herbes", which is a meatless gumbo packed with a shit-ton of leafy greens, and a batch of stewed okra and tomatoes (the recipe I had was even easier than the ones I am seeing there; it left out the meat entirely and consisted of dumping all the ingredients into a Dutch oven and throwing it in the oven for a period of time). After the party, I had the idea to combine the gumbo and the stewed okra and tomatoes, parcel it out into single-serving containers and freeze them as a "gumbo base".

Then a gumbo dinner for myself was simply a matter of pulling out one of the containers, throwing in some meat, and letting everything simmer together for a little while until it was heated through and the ingredients had all gotten to know each other a little. It was also good at helping me use up random leftover meats - if I had some odds and ends of roast chicken, I'd chop them up, throw them in, and make chicken gumbo. If I had one link left from a pack of sausages, I'd slice it up and make it sausage gumbo. When we'd gotten some pre-cooked frozen cocktail shrimp for a house party later, I grabbed a couple from the pack after the party, pulled one of the containers out of the freezer and had shrimp gumbo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, and I have to indulge my AskMe cooking cliche:

Several of the "main dish salads" from the Moosewood Daily Special have a point at which you can stop, store the whole thing in the fridge, and then assemble the final components just before serving at some future point. Also, since it's a vegetarian cookbook, you have the option of punching things up with cooked meat if you prefer (or having them as side dishes to a simple roast chicken leg or something).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:01 PM on August 5, 2018

I do this with quiche. Wash, chop, and saute my vegetables, prep my crust, leave in fridge or freezer. When it's dinner time, I mix up the eggs, cheese, and vegetable, dump into the pie crust and bake. Soup, I'll make the base mirepoix and put that in the fridge, in a pitcher. Then, I can add some of that to more broth, and the more quickly cooked ingredients. Salad, I'll chop up cabbage, peppers, onions, and carrot, portion it, then add the dressing, and more delicate or wetter ingredients right before serving.

For me, it's been trial and error. I gnomes exactly what you're looking for, but I've never found a good site or plan for it. Additionally, I don't do meat, so I'm a little more limited than you. I have found some similar stuff on pinterest, but no good definitive source for me. I will keep watching this thread!
posted by kellyblah at 1:32 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I do this with stir-fries. Make the sauce and chop the veggies (and meat if you're adding it). At meal time saute the veggies, cook rice, and pour on the sauce.
I suppose you xould cook the rice ahead of time too, we don't though.
posted by missriss89 at 2:38 PM on August 5, 2018

One of the foods you can usually find in my refrigerator is pork tenderloin, which I prepare by grilling -- about 15-20 minutes over a medium fire in a covered charcoal grill, turning approximately 1/3 rotation every five minutes to sear the outside attractively. If the inside hasn't reached the desired temp by the time you have seared all around, then remove to the sides of the grill to finish over indirect heat.

They make a magnificent meal straight off the grill but they're good for so much more -- whatever doesn't get eaten in the first meal can be used as a very versatile protein addition for sandwiches, tacos, quesadillas, pizza, omelettes, quick coconut milk curries, fried rice, etc.
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:40 PM on August 5, 2018

My meal planning uses this principle. Generally I make some components for the week:
a carb (usually brown rice, roasted or boiled potatoes, can sub salad mix as a healthy base)
a couple proteins (cooking dried beans, egg salad, meat)
some veg (roast a squash, cook greens, or just use frozen veg)

and then assemble just before the meal with some kind of sauce / garnish:
salsa, cheese, and cilantro
soy sauce, mirin, and furikake (and maybe mayo)
pan sauce of choice if sauteeing / stir frying (white wine-based, soy-based)
salad dressing, toasted nuts, and croutons
white sauce or cheese sauce (can pre-make)
heat broth, make a soup

Leaving components unseasoned until just before eating allows for variety while cooking as a single person. Storing portions of components in the freezer allows for more variation.
posted by momus_window at 7:22 PM on August 5, 2018

I agree that this can be applied to lots of meals. I typically meal plan (loosely!) on Sunday before I shop. I then chop any veggies, prepare any marinades/sauces, and make any grains (rice/quinoa) and stash in the fridge. I then just do the protein and assemble the veg/grain for dinner time.
posted by samthemander at 8:59 PM on August 5, 2018

I have realised that some have had difficulty accessing the red beans recipe I posted above, so here it is for those that may be interested.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces slab bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium red pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup orange juice
½ cup pineapple juice
3 (151/2-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper


Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and, a few moments later, the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has begun to render out of the bacon and the meat is beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the cumin and coriander. They will absorb the heated oil in the pan and grow fragrant. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes and then add the juices. Raise the heat to high until the mixture begins to simmer, then lower the heat and reduce to one half of its volume. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Stir in the beans. After 5 minutes stir again, then taste and adjust the seasonings. (The mixture can keep, softly bubbling on the stove, for hours. Add a little juice or water if necessary. Stir occasionally.) Serve with white rice.
posted by alchemist at 12:44 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Backing up EmpressCallipygos's suggestion of making a big batch of gumbo base and freezing it in meal-sized portions! I've made this recipe for Dowdy Corners Gumbo Zeb a couple of times, and while it does take all day, you end up with at least four meals if you're feeding 4 people and want leftovers from each meal-- if you freeze it in 1-2 person batches I bet you'd get 10-12 at least. And this base is just crazy delicious, it's one of the best things I've ever made. Just toss in whatever protein you want, heat it up and make some rice, and you have an amazing dinner that tastes like you spent a week in the kitchen in about 30 minutes.
posted by Kpele at 9:42 AM on August 6, 2018

The book An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler is great for this. It's sort of a cookbook, but more it's a guide to how to do this sort of thing. She talks about how to prep a few base recipes that can be tweaked and combined throughout the week for different meals. For instance, she has a whole chapter on beans, with a great method for cooking a delicious pot of beans, and then suggestions for what to do with the beans throughout the week. She does the same with veggies and meats as well.
posted by lunasol at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

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