Make Ahead Meals for Easy Holiday Gatherings

The big day is drawing near and, if you’re like me, so is family. In this holiday series on feasts without frenzy, we’ve talked about planning ahead, freezing ahead and keeping it light. Our next strategy for enjoying time together instead of toiling endlessly in the kitchen is making certain dishes ahead.

Some meals—like sautés and roasts and stir-fries—are prepared a la minute, essentially just before sitting down to the table. Others are more adaptable, allowing you to make them ahead, refrigerate, and reheat when the time is right.

Here are three suggestions for delicious do-ahead meals:

Stews, Braises and Ragus – These dishes range from whole cuts of meat (like the Braised and Glazed Five Spice Beef Short Ribs) to smaller chunks or ground meat simmered into a stew, chili or thick sauce. The beauty is, not only can you make these ahead; their flavor actually improves when you do. Just cook, chill (they’ll keep just fine for up to four days in the fridge), and then gently reheat when it’s time for the table.

Stratas – Breakfasts are tough with company. It’s often either the same-old, same-old cereal and toast, or playing short-order cook to the morning parade. Stratas—like savory bread pudding—are an excellent way to break that cycle, especially when you’ve got stale bread and leftover veggies on hand. Bread, fillings and an egg and milk mixture are layered in a roasting pan and left to soak overnight. The next morning, all that’s left to do is tuck it in the oven for a hearty start to the day.

Salads – Salads don’t hold well when dressed ahead. But having the fixings cleaned, cut and bagged in the fridge is a smart strategy for easy meals or to round out a soup or sandwich. Keep a double batch of a simple dressing on hand along with cleaned lettuce, sliced carrots, peppers and green onions for a fresh, mix-and-match salad that can be assembled in less than a minute.

This week, make a few meals ahead to free up time for family and friends. Happy holidays, all!

Here are a few handfuls of our favorite meals (and other goodies) to make ahead to make the holidays easier.

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Hey there ... I'm Lia Huber

Hey there ... I'm Lia Huber

My mission is to inspire and equip you to live a richer life through real food by becoming a more competent, confident home cook.


I’m the author of Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith, and Enduring Love, founder and CEO of Nourish Evolution, and the creator of Cook the Seasons, Home Cooking School, and the Real Food Reset, and I empower intentional women to cook in a way that brings them (and their families) joy, health, and ease.

Making the shift from processed food to real food doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an evolution that occurs over time, with effort, intention, and belief. And it will change the course of your life. Are you ready to take the first step? I’m so glad you’re here … and I’m honored to be with you on the journey to becoming nourished!

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Watch the video and download the customized action plan to take the first step on your nourish evolution now.

Watch the video and download my customized action plan to take the first step on your nourish evolution now.

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Meals to Freeze Ahead to Free Up Time for the Holidays

Freezing a bunch of meals ahead of the holidays means more time for playing games and going for walks, and getting together with friends over the break, rather than always being in the kitchen. Here are some of our favorite Nourish Evolution recipes to prep and freeze for easy meals during the holidays.

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