Whether you're just spending a few days on the boat, heading off on a passage or preparing for some hectic days, make-ahead meals can take a lot of stress off the chief cook -- while still enabling everyone to eat well!

10 Great Make-Ahead Dinners

Whether you’re just spending a few days on the boat, heading off on a passage or preparing for some hectic days, make-ahead meals can take a lot of stress off the chief cook — while still enabling everyone to eat well!

What’s a “make-ahead meal?”  To me, it’s something that I can make several — or more days in advance and just heat up when I want it.  It may be something that I freeze at home and take to the boat or maybe it’s just something that can be refrigerated and transported. With each, I package it in a container that’s just right for the number of people expected to be on board.

A number of my favorites get served over rice or pasta.  Depending on the circumstances, I might cook that ahead, too — or plan to cook it fresh as the main dish heats.  I may add a salad or a vegetable — but several of these are great one-dish meals.

Here are my top 10 make-ahead meals (I make most with chicken or ground turkey, not beef):

  1. Jambalaya — see Drew’s great recipe
  2. Spaghetti
  3. Spanish Rice
  4. Chili
  5. Beef Stroganoff
  6. Tacos — make the meat ahead and either prepare veggies ahead also or at meal time
  7. Potatoes au Gratin with Ham
  8. Enchiladas
  9. Stew — chicken or beef (don’t overcook initially or it will be mushy)
  10. Pulled pork or chicken for hot sandwiches

So what are your favorite meals to make ahead and just re-heat??

Make-ahead meals can take a lot of stress off the chief cook no matter what your boating or cruising plans -- just heat and eat well!

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12 Comments
  • Amy Lynn Clark on Facebook
    Posted at 23 August 2012 Reply

    I love your suggestions. But I have a husband that doesn’t like rice or pasta and believes in the superstitions of bad luck to have ham/pork on a fishing boat, so it limits our options 🙂

  • So Many Beaches on Facebook
    Posted at 23 August 2012 Reply

    We tend to snack a lot on passages rather than have “meals”. So, our got-to favorites are deviled eggs, hummus and bean dips, Tex-Mex tuna salad (jalapenos, onions, tuna & macaroni) and broccoli salad

  • Carla
    Posted at 24 August 2012 Reply

    Meatloaf – as a dinner or sandwich, makes the first couple of days on passage much more enjoyable. Our favorite is a recipe from Emeril!

  • Carla
    Posted at 24 August 2012 Reply

    Plus the meatloaf, add some mash potatoes – great comfort food!

  • tami
    Posted at 18 April 2013 Reply

    I make cold sandwiches and cut them into quarters and put that into Ziplocs. Great for racing too. Quick to grab, just big enough for a quick nibble.

    Our fave is what we call “baby banh mi” (look up Banh Mi, a Vietnamese po-boy): cilantro, shredded carrot, cucumber, honey ham, sriracha-and-mayo mix, on wheat bread.

  • Monica McKaskle
    Posted at 28 April 2013 Reply

    I like chicken salad to make ahead (by itself, on a sandwich or in a wrap) as well as spaghetti sauce (to freeze). In mexico, I would make tamales and freeze them, but find it hard to find anything to wrap them in here in the pacifc (banana leaves would work, but it’s hard to store them).

  • Frances
    Posted at 08 January 2014 Reply

    Gumbo! I’ll make a pot at home, and freeze it in ziplock bags. Same for rice. I’ll grab as many as I need and they’ll thaw in the icebox during the trip. Heat separately, and serve the gumbo over the rice – or – easier – just combine in one pot. A complete one-bowl meal!

  • Joan
    Posted at 10 January 2014 Reply

    I make a big batch of breakfast burittos ahead of time and freeze. (I warp them individually in parchment paper and then put in ziplock bags. When we go out for a couple of days they are ready to go. A great way to start the morning.

    A family favorite is also Runza’s or Beirrocks. Can make ahead in a big batch and freeze.
    Recipe found here… http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/easy-german-bierocks-runza/detail.aspx

  • NegativeProfit(2squared)
    Posted at 10 May 2014 Reply

    For breakfast: Dirty Rice (Zatarain) with breakfast sausage (in place of hamburger) and scrambled eggs, freezes well.

  • Chris
    Posted at 06 January 2015 Reply

    For breakfast or lunch, I toast slices of Portuguese or Ciabatta rolls and top with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes & fresh boat basil OR honet cream cheese & thin slices of fruit. I keep a list similar to yours for make ahead dinners…a little bit of prep work makes for a more relaxing vacation.

  • The Sea and Sailors
    Posted at 03 June 2015 Reply

    Porridge with honey! 🙂

  • Dave Skolnick
    Posted at 07 July 2016 Reply

    I cook underway. I do “make-ahead on the fly.” That means, for example, cooking extra chicken so I can make tacos or chicken salad without cooking again. I hard cook eggs together with pasta. Pork tenderloin contributes to leftovers, sandwiches, and even faux-BBQ.

    I do make ahead salads (the aforementioned broccoli salad, macaroni, potato) at anchor or dock.

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