Dinner/ Lunch

Make-Ahead Pad Thai

Pad Thai feels like such a treat – tangy sauce, slippery noodles, chewy tofu – the good stuff. The trick to meal-prepping pad thai escaped me for a long time. But now that I’ve figured it out, we make it at least once a month.

I make the sauce on my Cooking Day. Traditional pad thai sauce uses a bit of tamarind paste in brick form for a fruity/tart flavor. I don’t love keeping an ingredient around for one purpose. So I substitute cherry preserves and rice wine vinegar to mimic tamarind. No one needs a brick of sticky ooze hanging out in the back of the fridge…

Cherry preserves have quite a bit of added sugar, but it’s diluted with other ingredients. A little goes a long way. I add fish sauce to mine, but it could easily be left out to make it vegan.

I prebake and package the tofu on my Cooking Day as well. That way, the night I want to serve the pad thai, I just have to sauté some veggies, then dump the sauce, tofu and noodles in the skillet to warm through. Add a squeeze of lime, some cilantro, scallions and peanuts, and call it a day.

You can make the noodles the night of, or you can make and package them on your Cooking Day. If you use pad thai rice noodles instead of soba noodles, definitely cook those fresh.

Don’t skip the garnishes at the end. They make the dish.

A scrambled egg makes a nice addition at the end as well, if you want to pump up the protein.

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • Sauce:
  • 1 tsp. refined coconut oil
  • 3 large or 4 small garlic cloves, grated
  • 3 Tbsp. tamari or reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup cherry preserves*
  • 5 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp. sriracha, plus more for garnish if desired
  • ¼ cup water
  • Other Ingredients:
  • 1 pack extra firm tofu
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coconut oil for sautéing ingredients
  • 3 oz. sprouts (alfalfa, broccoli, etc.)
  • 8 oz. soba noodles, certified gluten-free for celiac sufferers
  • Small head napa cabbage*
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • Unsalted peanuts
  • Limes



COOKING DAY – Remove tofu from packaging. Wrap in clean kitchen towel and place in bowl. Press liquid out of tofu by placing a heavy skillet or can on top of wrapped tofu. Press in bowl for at least half an hour or up to 3 hours.


Preheat oven to 400. Cut tofu into 1 in. cubes, place on baking sheet. Toss with grapeseed or olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 25 mins., shaking the pan halfway through. Cool and place into containers.


Make sauce by heating oil in small sauce pan. Add grated garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tamari, preserves, vinegar, fish sauce, sriracha and water. Stir together and simmer for about 7 mins. Cool and package into container(s).


Boil, drain and rinse noodles if cooking them ahead. Toss well with neutral flavored oil and package them into containers or baggies. One baggie per serving of noodles is best. They’re hard to pull apart on Serving Day otherwise.


SERVING DAY – Heat oil in skillet. Thinly slice cabbage, about ½ cup per serving. Sauté until softened, about 3-5 mins. Add sauce, tofu, cooked noodles, and sprouts. Sauté until heated through. Divide into serving bowls. Top with scallions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.


*Cherry preserves sometimes have chunks of cherries in them. Chunks in the finished sauce don't bother me, but you could puree the sauce if you want it totally smooth. I wonder if chia-cherry jam would work for this recipe...? *This recipe doesn't use a whole head of cabbage as written. The recipe easily doubles. Or you could menu plan another use for the leftover cabbage.

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