The start of the New Year is a great motivation to make small changes to help make life run a little smoother. Since everyone must eat, one easy change to incorporate is in the area of meal preparation. This is where a little pre-planning can make your life a whole lot easier. Start by making modifications to recipes you already use. When making your usual soup, stew, meatloaf or sauce recipes, it doesn’t take much extra time to double the recipe and freeze the extra portion for an easy meal another day. Just remember to label and date the contents, and include any cooking instructions right on the freezer bag for a convenient future meal when time is short. And the Internet is full of prep ahead freezer meals and slow cooker recipes to make dinnertime less stressful.  Here’s a simple crock-pot recipe to use now, or prep for later, that’s simple, yet delicious.


Cilantro Lime Chicken 


3 or 4 chicken breasts

1/4 cup lime juice

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

2 cups frozen corn

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper, to taste


Directions:  Place all the ingredients directly into your slow cooker, or in a resealable, gallon-sized freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. When you are ready to prepare your meal simply thaw the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. Empty contents into a slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low or 4- 6 hours on high until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve over rice or in tortillas with all the fixings.

But dinner isn’t the only meal that can benefit from a little preplanning. For an easy and convenient approach to breakfast, double your favorite pancake, waffle, or muffin recipes and freeze the extras. Individually frozen, those leftovers can be reheated in the toaster or microwave for a quick and easy breakfast for a busy morning. For a savory breakfast option, try this:


Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches


12 English muffins, split in half

12 eggs

3 Tbsp. butter or olive oil

12 slices American cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: cooked sausage, bacon, or ham


Directions: Lightly toast the English muffins. Scramble or fry the eggs in the oil or butter, then salt and pepper to taste. Place the cooked eggs and a slice of cheese between two of the toasted English muffins. Add meat, if desired, then top and press firmly together to secure. Cool sandwiches; wrap each individually in a paper towel and place in a heavy duty Ziploc freezer bag. Freeze. To reheat, remove from plastic, slightly unwrap the paper towel and microwave on high for one to two minutes until the cheese is melted and the sandwich is hot.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. It’s great to know that with a little pre-planning, you can save yourself tons of meal preparation time while making healthy, delicious meals you and your family can enjoy throughout the year.

Both recipes courtesy of