Make-Ahead Food Ideas For Memorial Day and 4th of July BBQ Picnics

Like many folks on Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends, you might be making plans to go camping, or planning a BBQ, or even going somewhere for a picnic.

Whatever the event, if you are the one in charge of the meal planning and cooking, if time allows, please try some of my make-ahead food ideas before, so that you can have more time to relax and to enjoy yourself and your family on the actual day of the event!

Just because you are the one in charge of the planning and cooking, it doesn’t mean you have to be busy doing EVERYTHING food-related that day. Consider these make-ahead food ideas:

Make-Ahead Marinated Chicken and Steak

Adding steak and chicken to the hamburger and hotdog menu is easy.

The prep. time for any of my marinated steak, teriyaki chicken and Thai Chicken recipes is 15 minutes at the most. For days or weeks before, combine the marinade and meat in a freezer bag and freeze according to the recipe’s directions. Remove from the freezer the day before the event and place in the refrigerator to thaw. Or prepare a day ahead, marinate and refrigerate for 24 hours. When your grill is pre-heated, you will be ready.

Make-Ahead Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

For a special, out-of the-ordinary indulgence, how does a beef tenderloin stuffed with spinach, Swiss cheese, garlic and mushrooms and slow cooked on the rotisserie grill sound? Although beef tenderloin is very expensive per pound (check out your local wholesale club for the best price) it is definitely worth a once-a-year Memorial Day event! Estimate ½ lb. per person, and a five pound tenderloin will easily feed about 10 people. My stuffed beef tenderloin recipe includes make-ahead instructions for the stuffing, allowing you to make the stuffing a day ahead.

The day you are ready for the grill, rinse the beef under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut a lengthwise pocket into the side of the beef and fill with the stuffing. Tie the beef tightly with 5 or 6 separate strings to keep the pocket closed. Cut off the excess strings if they’re hanging. Rub the outside of the beef with the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Insert a cooking thermometer in the center in the thickest part of the beef (not the stuffing.) Grill on a rotisserie (or bake in the oven at 375°F) until the thermometer registers rare in the center. Do not overcook. The ends will be more done. Let the beef rest for 15 minutes before you cut it. Remove the strings. Cut into ½ inch slices. Your guests will think you labored over extravagant cooking recipes, while you too are sitting and enjoying this delicacy.

Make-Ahead Cole Slaw and Pasta Salads

My cookbook contains some easy make-ahead cole slaw and broccoli slaw recipes. Whether its broccoli salad, Hawaiian cole slaw, or healthy broccoli slaw, it is simple to make these a day ahead. Make the dressing a day ahead and refrigerate. Assemble the other ingredients and refrigerate. To avoid a soggy cole slaw, add the dressing and toss your cole slaw right before your BBQ.

My Italian sub and macaroni pasta salad recipes can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, and these will taste delicious the day of the event.

Make-Ahead Desserts

Dessert breads are a great finger-food for a picnic or an after BBQ treat. Many of my easy dessert bread recipes like banana bread, cinnamon bread, blueberry bread or strawberry bread, allow for making ahead and freezing.

After baking two loaves of bread (many of my bread recipes will yield two loaves) wait until they are completely cooled. Next, wrap them in plastic wrap before placing them in a vacuum bag to freeze. Take them out of the vacuum sealed bags to thaw, this way the breads are already wrapped and ready for you to serve in about 4 hours.

Kids always go for the cookies, even big (adult-sized) kids! Homemade cookies are simple, make-ahead desserts that are a great finish to any picnic or BBQ.  Making Ahead is easy when you flash freeze your cookie dough.  Use the flash freezing method for my cookie recipes and you will have fantastic results.  These cookie recipes include:  big ginger cookies, brownie cookies, macadamia nut cookies, oatmeal cookies, peanut butter chocolate chip crackles, peanut butter kiss cookies, snickerdoodles, and everyone’s favorite, chocolate chip cookies.  You can find these cookie recipes, as well as, all of the above mentioned recipes and my make ahead directions in my Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms Cookbook.

The more prep. work you do in advance, the more fun you will have at your BBQ.  You want to be in the fresh air and sunshine NOT in your kitchen!

How To Make Your Own Dog Food Treats Business

Are you worried about the nutritional value your dog is receiving from his current brand of food? If so, you may want to explore a new option: make your own dog food. That’s right: you can make your own dog food; and it isn’t even time consuming or expensive. Not only will it be fun, but it will also help rover by giving him something that isn’t loaded with potentially-harmful chemicals.

Right now is perhaps the best time to get started, too, since many other pet owners are looking for alternatives to commercial foods in the wake of the imported dog food scare. Indeed, if you wanted to, you could not only cook food for your own dog, but you could also start a business that sells to many dog owners who wish to keep their pets safe.
But before you get carried away, you may want to start with a somewhat smaller project to determine whether or not there is an easy-to-access market for your home-made dog food: try making and selling some dog cookies. In order to do this, you will need the following items at a minimum: some cookie cutters, a recipe for dog treats, an oven, and some attractive packaging. Once you finish your cookies, you can then try to market them to local grocery stores and even neighbors.

I suggest you try the following recipes. I think you will find that they will more than satisfy the appetite and the tastes of any dog:

1. Waffle Treats. These are easy and inexpensive to make and dogs absolutely love them. All you need is 4 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 egg, 1 and 2/3 cups of water, 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, and ½ a cup of cornmeal. Once you have assembled these ingredients, pre-heat your oven to 325F, and start mixing everything in a bowl. Knead the dough as you normally would until it is roughly ½ inch thick. Last, cut it into squares, put it in the waffle maker (just to get the grill lines); and then pop it in the oven for more than an hour. Once the treats finish cooling, wrap them up; and you’ll be ready to drop them off at the local supermarket.

2. Honey Cake Dog Treats. The dogs will come running whenever you cook these treats. All you’ll need is 2 cups of whole wheat flour, ½ cup of soy bean flour, 1 tbsp of honey, some canola oil, sea salt, and 1 cup of water. Start by mixing the dry ingredients thoroughly. Once you are done, add the water and honey, mix again – and then bake them in the oven on 400F for about a half hour.

3. Frozen Fruit Treats. Not all treats have to be cooked. In fact, one of the things you’ll find dogs love most is a frozen applesauce treat. All you have to do is take applesauce, mix it with some vanilla yogurt, and then freeze it.

So get started on your dog food treats business today. All you need to do is get some easy-to-make recipes; and keep your furry customers in mind throughout the entire process-and, in no time, you should have a top-notch doggy treat business.

Quick and Easy to Prepare Homemade Dog Food Recipes

When it comes to preparing homemade dog food, it seems so difficult and unachievable, especially with the type of busy lifestyle we live in this modern age. As a matter of fact, preparing homemade dog food can be easy and provide good nutrient for your dog as well provide you know what you are doing.

If given a choice, I’m sure your dog would prefer natural dog food prepare by you rather than funny size, unrecognizable commercial kibble that are not as healthy. The main problem with most commercial kibble food is that they contain too much low quality protein that contains a high quantity of ammonia producing agents.

A good healthy replacement would be foods that contain eggs, real meats with a low fat content such as white chicken meat, and low fat dairy products such as yogurt and cottage cheese. Such foods are high in moisture and provide high quality protein that dogs need for good health.

One high quality and quick homemade meal that you can provide for your dog would be:


Cottage cheese


Chicken (Baked, steam fish, or canned fish)

Cooked Oatmeal

Canned Pumpkin (plain, no spice type)

The cottage cheese, egg and chicken should make up to about fifty percent of the meal, oatmeal thirty percent, and twenty percent pumpkin. Barley and whole wheat bread can be used as substitute for the carbohydrates. This recipe only takes a few minutes to prepare and your dog will love it! On the surface, this meal might appear to have high protein content, nevertheless, the protein are of high quality and your dog would have no problem digesting them.

Vegetable based biscuits are another easy to prepare dog food that can be stored for later in the refrigerator or freezer:


An Egg

1/3 cup of applesauce

Tablespoon of brewer’s yeast

A Cup each of cooked brown rice, mashed or grated vegetables

Mix well and drop small dollops of the mixture on a greased cookie tray and bake for about 10 to 13 minutes in a 350 degrees heated baking oven. These biscuits can be served as a treat or as part of your dog’s daily meal.

Preparing your dog food at home is not really difficult and time consuming. A search on dog food recipes online can give you many good dog food recipes also. If you are good at it, you can even provide better nutrition for your dog and save some money along the way.