Weeknight Cooking

10 of Clara's Favorite Make-Ahead Meals

January 20, 2015

Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon, and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.

Now that Clara has started mixing muffins, cookies, and biscuits, it's high time she upped her game by making dinner, and especially meals that can be made ahead since her mom might be a little tight on time with her new baby brother.

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Okay, maybe Clara shouldn't be cooking the food (she can't even reach the stove), but it is true that dishes prepared ahead of time and stashed in the freezer are godsends for busy families. When there's work to be done, a train to catch, and a family to feed, a little extra cooking during the weekend pays for itself over time.

More: Your guide to freezer-friendly (and freezer-hostile) foods.

To help Clara welcome a new family member into her life, we're taking a look back at some of her favorite (and some of Merrill's best) make-ahead meals and snacks. These will probably be making an appearance on their family table, and if you make them now, they can be a part of your meal in the coming weeks, too. 

Homemade Fruit Yogurt


Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins with Flaxseed 


Strata with Greens and Sausage 


Brothy, Garlicky Beans 


Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage 


Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes


A Simple Bolognese for Grownups and Babies 


Sweet and Savory Overnight Pork 



Beef in Barolo 



Trail Mix 

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Matilda Luk
    Matilda Luk
  • luvcookbooks
  • MaryAnnS
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Jennifer
Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Matilda L. April 10, 2015
Congratulations and all the best to the soon-to-be family of 4!
luvcookbooks January 22, 2015
Congratulations! Mazeltov!
MaryAnnS January 21, 2015
Wow! If you're daughter eats all of this at THAT age, then I'll babysit for free if you can convince my 2 boys!!! Best wishes for your newest little!
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 20, 2015
Great News! Best of luck.
Jennifer January 20, 2015
The chicken sausage pasta was a hit with my whole family!
JadeTree January 20, 2015
Oh my word, congratulations!! My cooking really changed when I had my second baby. It's like learning all over again since all of the dynamics and my time changed. It's been really fun to approach things a new way. I wish you happy discoveries as your family grows! Such a joy to feed a family!
Susan W. January 20, 2015
Clara is sooo beautiful.
I love the brothy, garlicky beans. My freezer is full of them and I have them once a week. I love them topped with a poached egg and a squirt of sriracha.
healthierkitchen January 20, 2015
Congratulations, Merrill!!
Clara is getting so grown up!
Merrill S. January 20, 2015
Thank you!
ChefJune January 20, 2015
Merrill, when's the baby due?
Merrill S. January 20, 2015
In less than two weeks!
sexyLAMBCHOPx January 20, 2015
creamtea January 20, 2015
How nice! Best wishes in your new arrival!
Merrill S. January 20, 2015
Thank you!
lorie January 20, 2015
Great article and the recipes are making me hungry!
Merrill S. January 20, 2015
Glad to hear it!
Pegeen January 20, 2015
Merrill, congratulations on your new arrival! What nice news.
Merrill S. January 20, 2015
Thank you so much.