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I know cooking a big, fancy, multi-course meal at home can sound intimidating. And rightly so! It’s easy to enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant when they do all the prep, cooking, clean-up and deal with the stress. BUT it doesn’t necessarily have to be a stressful thing to do it yourself.

Making a nice, multi-course meal by yourself for your family or friends really comes down to ONE THING.


Yes, a bit of skill in the kitchen is helpful, but the issue I see most with meal preparation is in the detail and planning of the prep work. If you can plan out your meal and schedule every little bit of prep work, you will find that pulling the meal together is smoother and easier than you thought it would be. Whenever I have a big event I’m catering I plan out detailed lists of what needs to be done and make sure to complete them as scheduled. This turns into a stress-free event for me and keeps me from getting frazzled.

I’ve put together a 4 course meal menu together for you, along with the prep lists so that putting this meal together can be done relatively stress-free.


Are you planning on cooking a meal for a loved one this Valentine’s Day? I put together this menu with just that in mind. All the components are seasonal and balanced with a savory appetizer, a salad full of texture and sweet acidity, hearty Lamb with white beans, and a light panna cotta dessert to offset the heavier main dish.

butternut squash ravioli with rosemary browned butter 5

baby kale salad with gorgonzola, black grapes, asian pear, candied walnuts and honey vinaigrette 3

balsamic glazed lamb chops 1

 blood orange panna cotta 2

2 day prep list

the day of


Just print off the 3 prep lists shown(just click on the picture and then print) as well as the five recipes listed below and you are well on your way to a wonderful, stress-reduced fine meal!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Baby Kale Salad

Balsamic Glazed Lamb Chops

White Bean Puree

Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta

four course restaurant quality meal prep

If you want to make a detailed prep list for your own menu, I recommend following these steps:

  • Put together your menu. Choose dishes that will work together well prep-wise. For example: if your entree is labor intensive with a lot of components, choose a simple soup that can be made the day before and simply reheated and served the next day.
  • Compile the recipes and look over them well.
  • What steps can be completed ahead of time? Consider how long the pre-made item can be stored while still being fresh when you need it. Can you make it and freeze it ahead of time(like raviolis)? Consider doing small things ahead of time, like chopping onions or herbs.
  • Starting with the task that can be completed the farthest in advance, make a list of what you can make ahead of time.
  • Stay organized! label your items if that is helpful to you and store like items in the same location(place all of the refrigerated prepped items in the same drawer of the fridge so that they are easy to find when you need them).
  • Cross items off your your list when completed. It will relax you, I promise! =)
  • Follow your list to a T. Completing  the tasks at the times you have set will take a load off of your shoulders when they day of the meal comes.

What about you? What do you do to help make your meal prep less stressful?

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  1. says

    This is an AWESOME step-by-step guide, thank you so much! I’m always a frantic disaster on the day of dinner parties, so I definitely need to take this advice to heart. :)

  2. andrew says

    When freezing the raviolis – they have to be boiled first or are they raw?

    On the day to prepare them, when you say cook do you just mean boil them and then plate and drizzle the butter?

    Thank you for this.

    • says

      Hi Andrew! The raviolis need to be frozen raw. Then, on the day you prepare them, they can just be tossed in their frozen state into a pot of boiling water and cooked. =)

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