Those two words alone can cause any busy mom's blood pressure to rise.
I'm sure we've all been there, frantically scavenging through the fridge and cupboard for something to whip together.
And when all else fails there's always fast food or delivery pizza!
As a stay-at-home mom to three (almost four) little ones I have found that my time in the kitchen needs to be well thought out and planned.
Whipping up a dinner when it was just my husband and me used to be no big deal.
We could eat later and there was no rush.
But now when five o'clock rolls around my kids are asking when and what dinner is.
One of my favorite tricks to making sure we have a warm meal every night is by having "back-up" meals.
Because let's face it. There are some days that don't go as planned.
You might get home later than anticipated, company might pop in when you should be prepping for dinner, you might have a child who is extra clingy and needs extra hugs, etc.
Having a back up plan is key when it comes to getting a nice meal on the table for your family.
This is where my favorite kitchen appliance comes into play.
My deep freeze.
I was gifted this beauty this past year. And let me tell you... it is life changing!
I have extra meals stored up for the nights when I am in a pinch or just too tired to make something.
And let me add, you do not need a deep freeze to have back up meals! Throw some in your normal freezer!
Here are a few of my favorite tips when it comes to building a nice little "back-up" stash of meals.
When you are making your menu plan for the week, plan at least one meal that would freeze well. Then buy enough ingredients to double your meal.
On the night you prepare your meal, make a separate pan of it that you can freeze for another night.
A backup meal, just like that!
It doesn't take that much more time, just thought to purchase the extra ingredients and a few minutes to make an additional pan.
There are plenty of great dishes that can be frozen.
Some of our favorites are: lasagna, baked spaghetti, chicken enchiladas, beef enchiladas, pizza rolls, beef and barley stew, baked ziti and homemade chicken pot-pie.
My one concern with freezing my meals was that they would taste like they had been frozen and would be freezer-burned.
There are several great ways to prevent these problems from happening.
Before you put any meal in the freezer, it is so important to make sure it is wrapped correctly. If your dish can fit in a freezer bag I would highly recommend spending a bit more on a name brand freezer bag. It will make all the difference!
If your dish doesn't fit in a freezer bag, then you will first wrap your dish in plastic wrap. This will add a little bit of extra protection from the cold.
Then wrap it thoroughly in tin foil.
It is extremely important to make sure you remove all excess air to ensure that your food tastes fresh when reheated.
Once your food is wrapped and ready for the freezer, make sure you label what it is as well as the date that you put the dish into the freezer.
You're not quite done yet!
Now comes the fun part -- making a list of all the meals you have placed into your freezer.
This is such an important step. All of those yummy meals will do you no good if you forget what you have stored away.
Make a list to keep by your freezer. It doesn't need to be fancy. Just write down the name of the dish, as well as when it was placed into the freezer.
When you take a meal out to use, make sure you cross it off your list. This will also give you a good idea of when you should be making more meals to restock your supply.
And that's it!
Here's to planning ahead and making our lives easier as busy families!
Now go and freeze some meals!
This post is part of BlogHer's Dinner, Faster editorial series, made possible by Land o' Lakes.
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