The workweek is busy enough without having to whip up dinner from scratch. With a little preplanning, you can stock your freezer with family-friendly weeknight dinners, easy sauces and sides, plus quick desserts.. So what are you waiting for? Your next meal is just a quick click away.
2 - cups sliced red onions (2 large)
2 - slices bacon, chopped
3 - cloves garlic, minced
2 - eggs, lightly beaten
1 - cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 - cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/3 - cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 - tablespoons tomato paste
1 - tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 - teaspoon salt
1 - pound 90% lean ground beef
12 - ounces bulk Italian sausage
8 - ounces dried multigrain farfalle pasta
1 - tablespoon butter
1 - 24 ounce jar pasta sauce
1 - 15 ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 - tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 - teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1- 16 ounce package frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor combine 1/4 cup of the onions, the bacon, and garlic. Cover and process with several on/off pulses until chopped.
In a large bowl combine eggs, mushrooms, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and bacon mixture. Add ground beef and Italian sausage; mix well. In a 3-quart rectangular baking dish lightly pat mixture into a 9x5-inch loaf. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until done (165 degrees F); cool.
For sauce, in a large skillet melt the 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups onions. Cook, covered, for 13 to 15 minutes or until onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Transfer caramelized onions to a large bowl; stir in pasta sauce and tomato sauce. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the sauce for assembling dinners.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking; drain again. Stir cooked pasta into the remaining sauce.
For seasoned butter, in a small bowl combine the 2 tablespoons softened butter and Italian seasoning. Cover and chill until needed.
TO ASSEMBLE DINNERS:
Cut meatloaf into 12 slices. Line six 8x1-inch round or 8x8x1 3/4-inch square disposable foil pans* with heavy plastic wrap, extending the wrap to one side so there is enough to cover when folded back over pan. Arrange pasta mixture and frozen vegetables in the prepared pans. Top pasta mixture with meatloaf slices and the reserved sauce. Top vegetables with seasoned butter. Fold plastic wrap over food, then wrap pans completely in foil. Freeze for up to 4 months.
To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove foil from frozen dinner(s). Lift dinner(s) out of pan(s) and remove plastic wrap; return dinner(s) to pan(s). Cover with foil. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until heated through.
FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
If you prefer, assemble dinners in six 1- or 2-compartment microwave-safe storage containers; seal and freeze for up to 4 months. To serve, remove lids from a frozen dinner and cover with vented plastic wrap or a paper towel. Microwave on defrost setting for 12 minutes, then on 100% power (high) for 4 to 6 minutes or until heated through, stirring pasta mixture, sauce, and vegetables once or twice.
You can also remove a frozen dinner from the foil pan, remove plastic wrap, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with vented plastic wrap or a paper towel and microwave as directed.
NUTRITION FACTS (Make-Ahead Bacon Meat Loaf TV Dinner)
Per serving: 783 kcal , 42 g fat (16 g sat. fat , 5 g polyunsaturated fat , 17 g monounsaturated fat ), 183 mg chol. , 1541 mg sodium , 59 g carb. , 11 g fiber , 17 g sugar , 41 g pro.