Summer is almost here, and with that we would like to share some of our favorite food prep hacks that make hosting at the lake so much easier. Many of these ideas require only a bit of extra effort but yield great rewards, allowing you to enjoy lake time to the fullest.
1. Prep the Produce
Purchase a variety of your favorite produce items, such as colorful peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, radishes, sugar snap peas, etc. Plan a trip to your local farmers market for the freshest, in-season selection.
Before guests arrive, clean, cut and store your produce for multiple uses. Once prepped, these items store and transport well in large plastic food bags.
The hard part is now done! Your prepped veggies are ready for a variety of uses:
- Roasted with olive oil for an easy side dish
- Served raw with dip for a healthy appetizer or lunch accompaniment
- Added to a charcuterie platter
- Chopped further for a quick salad, such as Summer Vegetable Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
For green salads, either buy pre-washed salad greens, or rinse and store salad greens ahead of time. Along with your prepped veggies, salad prep is a snap. Pre-washed greens are also ready for sandwich/hamburger bars.
2. Double Down on Freezer-Friendly Meals
When making freezer-friendly dinners or sides, make a double batch and freeze one for the cabin (wrap tightly, label and date).
In summer, enchiladas or baked ziti are a nice change from the grill, and no meal prep is required. Freezer-friendly sides that work for a variety of meals include rice pilaf, macaroni and cheese and fettuccine alfredo.
This is a great hack for wintertime as well. Hearty soups, chilis and chowders, casseroles, meatloaf, and Bolognese sauce lend themselves well to doubling and freezing.
3. Make-Ahead Bacon
So versatile, bacon deserves its own tip! Let’s face it, bacon is messy to cook, so we like to make it all at once with just one clean-up. Amy recommends the oven method for the easiest prep and clean-up.
Once made, bacon can be stored in the refrigerator for one week or the freezer for up to three months. Bacon can be easily warmed up in the microwave. It makes a great, quick addition to almost any breakfast.
Pre-cooked bacon also works well for a “BLT Bar” – it’s delicious and easy with summer’s bounty of tomatoes and pre-washed greens. Lunch solved.
Other uses for pre-cooked bacon include crumbled over salads, on top of macaroni and cheese, as a baked potato topper, even as a satisfying garnish to a Bloody Mary…get creative with this crowd-pleaser.
4. Bake Like It’s the Holidays
Savvy holiday bakers start early and freeze cookies and bars, so when the holidays roll around they have a stockpile of treats ready to share.
Take this holiday hack into the summer season. Set aside some time to bake, and make a double batch – use one at home and freeze the other to bring to the cabin. Baked goods, especially bars and cookies, keep for up to six months when wrapped well and frozen.
5. Stock the Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
Meal time is always easiest with a well-stocked kitchen. Take advantage of some short cuts, and keep ingredients on hand for quick meals that don’t require a recipe.
In your pantry, stock store bought spaghetti sauce as well as enchilada, teriyaki and tikka masala sauces. In your freezer, ready to grill chicken breasts and pork chops make for a quick, easy meal. Finally, stock your fridge with some deli items such as chicken salad, vegetable salads, whatever you like!
6. Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are a great option for a nutritious, ready-to-serve breakfast that allows for endless customization. Get the Easy Overnight Oats recipe.
7. Prep the Protein
Advance prep of proteins is another way to streamline cabin meal prep. Some ideas include:
- Grill multiple packages of brats in advance. Cooked brats store well refrigerated or frozen, and warm easily on the stovetop (in a pan with a little beer) for a quick lunch or dinner.
- Likewise, grill boneless chicken breasts “in bulk”. With the addition of a sauce (e.g. buffalo, bbq, teriyaki), you can serve hearty sandwiches to a crowd.
- Another use for pre-cooked chicken is to cut-up/shred for a quick chicken salad.
- Do the same with ground beef. Brown ground beef or bison in advance, and it’s ready for a quick conversion to taco meat, sloppy joes or as an addition to bolognese sauce.
8. Charcuterie in a Snap
This popular trend is so easy to pull off. There are really no rules, just combine favorite crackers, cheeses, meats, fruit, vegetables etc. on a platter, and you’re good to go! Grazing on charcuterie can be a meal in itself.
For quick charcuterie platters, stock up on easy-to-store items such as cured meats and cheeses (both have extended shelf life), shelf stable items like crackers, olives, pickles, and cornichons, and condiments like mustard, honey, and fig jams.
9. Batch Cocktails
We know, this is not actually food prep, but it’s a wonderful hack for lake living and entertaining. Making cocktails by the batch expedites serving large crowds and also brings an air of specialty to gatherings. Check out our Pitcher O’Palomas recipe.
10. Frozen Breakfast Burritos
Looking for the perfect breakfast entree? Hearty, yet simple and available to guests at their choosing? Look no further than breakfast burritos!
These make-ahead, freezer-friendly, microwave-ready, breakfast-in-a-tortilla satisfy all! Eggs, cheese, sausage, hash browns, salsa and tortilla wrapped up in a delicious breakfast is a perfect time-saver.
Cheers to summer at the lake – we hope these hacks help you enjoy every moment!