Not only can you meal prep pasta ahead of time, but you can also prepare and freeze pasta dishes to save time during the week. Pasta is always a family favorite. There are so many different kinds of pasta available that most of us never grow tired of it. If you are making your own pasta, it is important to keep it fresh. The directions recommend that it is served within 20 hours of preparation. If you have a warming drawer in your cooker, it is an ideal place to keep pasta warm. You can make the pasta a couple of hours ahead of time and keep it warm for dinner.
Pasta can also be prepped in advance as part of a weekly meal prep strategy. There are various things to do to ensure it does not dry out or stick together, which we’ll cover later. One of the easiest pasta dishes to meal prep is Lasagna.
For this example, we will look at some of the steps included in making a perfect lasagna:
- Start by making your meat sauce in a large pan by sauteing onion, carrots, and garlic in olive oil
- add 400 grams of minced ground beef.
- As it cooks stir with a wooden spoon adding 200 grams of chopped button mushrooms
- Add a 400 gram can of chopped tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.
- Dried oregano and basil 1 teaspoon of each.
- Last, add 300 to 350 grams of beef stock.
Simmer the sauce over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to thoroughly cook. It is now time to make the bechamel sauce, make this in a saucepan on the stove top. We will need:
- 600 ml low-fat milk
- 1/4 cup corn flour
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg
Using a wooden spoon mix the corn flour into a paste using some of the milk, keeping it really smooth, with no lumps. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan, then add in the corn flour mixture stirring continuously. Simmer for 2 minutes while stirring in the corn flour, keep stirring throughout the process. To assemble the lasagna, we will need:
- 10 lasagna sheets.
- 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese
Then spoon half of the meat sauce into the base of a 3-liter casserole dish. Place 5 lasagna sheets across the mixture. Then add another layer of meat sauce and a further layer of pasta. Cover the top with the white sauce mixture and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. At this stage, the lasagna sheets should be totally covered.
Should you freeze meal prepped pasta
So, our lasagna is prepared and ready for baking. We then have options. The lasagna can easily be place into a freezer to be used later. If you decide to freeze it before initially baking, thaw it out before putting it in the oven. If frozen, it will require about 50 minutes of baking time.
If you are eating it later in the day or the next day, place it in the fridge until needed. When it’s ready to bake, place the dish on a baking tray in a preheated oven for 45 minutes until it is browned on top. So simple once prepared. It is perfect serve with a salad. There is of course the option to bake the lasagna ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze depending on when it will be consumed.
Reheating meal prepped pasta
Whether the pasta is homemade or dried, you may have some for the next day. It is absolutely fine and there are several ways of doing this.
1. Reheating on the stove by placing the pasta in a metal strainer, then boil a pot of water. When the water is bubbling submerge the strainer in
the water for up to one minute.
2. Microwave the pasta by adding 1 oz of water to a bowl. Microwave it for 30-40 seconds this will make it soft again.
Adding a dash of olive oil to the water can make it even more supple. Either of these ways will revive pasta cooked the day before, and then you can add your favorite sauce before serving.
Meal prepping pasta dough and storing it
Making pasta dough can be a tricky process, and we are advised to rest it for one hour before rolling and shaping. Instead of this, we can decide to freeze the dough and thaw it out later. Divide the dough and shape it into two separate balls. Cover the two balls totally with cling wrap and place them in the freezer. The dough can remain frozen for a month. Then you can pull it out the freezer to thaw to use for a planned meal. It will still taste totally fresh. If you have some fresh sauces made and stored either in the fridge or even bought from the delicatessen, you can always make a quick meal, that should take only half an hour to prepare.
Can you meal prep pasta for children?
You might have a fussy eater in your house, and often this means cooking more than one meal. One good thing about pasta is you don’t have to cook two meals, you just cook the pasta and add different sauces. If you want to cook the pasta the day before just store it in an airtight container or Ziplock bag in the fridge, it will actually keep like this for at least four days.
If you have a child that is currently only eating cheese, cover the pasta with a white sauce (made with milk and corn flour), sprinkle at least 2 oz of grated cheese on top, and microwave for one minute. it is nice and tasty while containing some protein.
The rest of the family will probably want something with a bit more flavor. Some of the store-bought pasta sauce ranges are excellent value. Have some fresh parmesan cheese handy, and a cheese grater so you can grate it fresh onto the pasta sauce at the dinner table.
Meal prepping pasta for large families
Spaghetti can be made very cheaply. If you are a student there is no cheaper way to entertain friends than by serving spaghetti and meatballs. You can make it the day before, just heat it up when needed. Or you can portion out each serving of pasta in airtight freezer bags.
If you are making dinner for 6 people, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Stir in a packet of dried spaghetti.
- Boil with the lid off for 8-10 minutes until al dente.
- Don’t over boil as you will be reheating tomorrow.
Making the Meatballs
The meatballs can be made the week before and frozen. This simple recipe will feed 6 people when combined with the spaghetti. You will need:
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup onion grated finely.
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- pinch of salt
- Black pepper
- 1-pound lean beef
Combine ingredients and mix them well together before dividing them into 18 meatballs.
Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes. Once they are baked, cool and freeze them. If you want more, double the recipe and freeze two lots.
When they are needed combine with spaghetti, then cover the whole dish with either one or two bottles of store-bought tomato pasta sauce. If you prefer, passata is a plainer version. Then heat in the oven. Before serving topped with parmesan cheese.
A meal like this can cost only $2-3 dollars a serving. Of course, it will taste better when served with salad. The meatballs have been said to taste better when prepared ahead of time and frozen.
Why pasta is great dish to meal prep
Pasta is very versatile. It can even be eaten cold in a salad. A pasta salad is best made the day before and refrigerated overnight to absorb the flavors. If you are going to make a pasta salad, it is better to use the small pasta shells or a small penne pasta that is bite-size as they need to be easily integrated into the salad. To prepare the salad the day before, mix the cooked pasta with:
- 1 can of corn kernels drained
- 1 can of red kidney beans
- 1 cup of frozen baby peas cooked
- 6 diced cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
When serving the following day, add a dash of balsamic dressing, store-bought is fine. This type of salad is lovely with barbecue meats in the summer.
Pasta can certainly be prepared in advance. Making it a really popular choice with families, because everyone likes it. Better still it can be eaten all year-round. Meal prep pasta can be said to be an essential part of a good pasta meal, as many pasta dishes taste a lot better when made the day before or even frozen. You can even have pasta soup in winter. Just remember the food safety guidelines when meal prepping pasta. Never allow pasta to sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If you intend on storing meals for longer than two days, freeze them then thaw and reheat.