our everyday life

Meals Made the Night Before

by Elle Paula, studioD

With so many tasks filling your to-do list, cooking three meals a day may seem like a daunting task. Many busy cooks have figured out that you don't need to cook each meal right before you actually plan to serve it. A few tips will allow you to serve your family meals made the night before without any complaints or objections about leftovers.


Making a nutritious breakfast may be the last thing on your mind during a busy morning. Preparing your breakfast the night before saves you time and makes you more likely to eat before running out the door. Before you go to bed, cut up fruit, squeeze some lemon juice on top and mix in some yogurt. In the morning, add some bran cereal to the mixture or eat it as is. Prepare an egg strata the night before by mixing whisked eggs with spices -- or a flavorful salad dressing mix -- and adding some bread or breakfast meat, like bacon and sausage. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, bake the mixture -- and a breakfast your kids will love is ready in less than 15 minutes.

Lunch Leftovers

Prepare the following day’s lunch by doubling the recipe of the dinner you are making the night before. By doing so, you will be able to feed your family two meals, while only cooking once. Bake eight chicken breasts instead of four, assemble two pans of lasagnas instead of one or double up on that meatloaf recipe. If your family is not fond of leftovers, get creative. Bake extra chicken breasts, but instead of serving them plain, prepare a chicken salad with the extra chicken. Put the extra meatloaf on small buns and make mini hamburgers.

Dinner for Days

Some days you may feel energized and excited to cook, while other days you can barely stand up straight to prepare a decent meal. Take advantage of the days when your energy level is high and prepare more than one meal. While you’re making lasagna for Thursday night’s dinner, prepare a casserole for Friday night as well. Cook the casserole and place it in the refrigerator, or freeze it if you do not plan on eating it for a couple days. After eating a roasted chicken dinner, place the chicken bones and any leftover chicken in a stockpot. Add chicken broth, vegetables and spices to prepare a soup for the next night’s dinner.


Making meals the night before requires some preparation and planning. Make shopping lists and plan your meals so that you are able to utilize ingredients and prepare bulk dishes in the easiest way possible without wasting food. While you may think sitting down and planning your weekly meals requires time you don’t have, it actually saves you time in the end.

About the Author

Elle Paula has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images