By Erin Chase
It’s Thursday. And it’s going to be a great day. I get the kids dropped off at school on time. With full lunch boxes and water bottles. And I manage to squeeze a few hours of work into the morning, complete with blog post writing, conference calls and new team member set up. I’ve enjoyed my salad for lunch and then the call comes in…”ELEMENTARY SCHOOL” flashes on my phone.
It’s never good when the school calls.
It was the nurse.
Stitches are in order after a fall on the playground at recess.
I scoop up the baby, call my mom to see if she can pick up the preschooler, and make my way to the school to pick up the older two kids and head to the pediatric urgent care. It wasn’t a major cut, and I didn’t feel the need for a trip to the hospital ER. I figured I’d have a shorter wait (and drive) if we went to the nearby urgent care. Also, I had to figure in a trip to the drugstore for the gauze and bandages that we will need for the post-stitches care. By my basic time calculations, it would be dinner time by the time all this was said and done and I would be completely depleted of all energy from keeping the little folks busy and occupied for hours at the urgent care & drugstore. I wasn’t planning on this little afternoon adventure so I didn’t start the slow cooker earlier in the day. Ruh-roh…what to do?!
Rather than call for takeout and spend more $$ than I needed to for the day (urgent care co-pay plus drugstore stop = expensive!), I texted my husband and asked him to pull out some sloppy joe meat and slider buns from the freezer. I told him how to quickly thaw the cooked meat and sauce and reheat it, and when we arrived home the house smelled amazing with the sloppy joe meat gently bubbling on the stovetop. We avoided a $40 restaurant bill on a weeknight when we didn’t need to be spending $$ on take out.
Freezer meals FTW (for the win)!
We all have those days. I have them more often than I prefer, but that’s life. It’s busy, it’s fast, it’s hectic, and sometimes it needs stitches.
It helps having “dinner backup” on these days. Specifically, food-in-the-freezer type backup.
And this is what I love about freezer meals. They not only help on afternoons like the ones described above, they also help cut down on overall time spent in the kitchen, and save me just enough mental and emotional energy to get through the dreaded witching hour every afternoon.
I’ve always said that being one step ahead of yourself when it comes to meals—both cooking and planning them—can do wonders on saving time, money and shreds of sanity.
How to prep for freezer cooking
Here are my top three tips for a successful freezer meals prep session:
- Don’t shop and prepare meals in the same day. Unless you feel like running a marathon that day. Because that’s how you’ll feel if you try to do both in the same day. Work it into your calendar to shop one afternoon or even late evening and then prep the next morning. I’ve been known to shop late on a Friday night (I sure know how to party, huh?) and do my prep on a quiet-ish Saturday afternoon.
- Let the food cool down completely to reduce risk of freezer burn! What’s the point in putting meals in the freezer if you aren’t able to use them later when they are coated in a layer of icy freezer burn?! It’s best to let all the food cool down completely before adding to the freezer. I recommend putting the meals or baggies into the fridge to cool completely before stacking them into the freezer.
- “Flat freeze” by pressing the food as flat as possible in the baggie. Then you can stack meals and save space in your freezer.
My brand new FreezEasy freezer cooking meal plans are the perfect solution for the crazy busy home chef who wants to have less stress and less mess when getting dinner on the table.
FreezEasy meal plans are designed to help you get 10 meals into your freezer in under 1 hour, using recipes that can quickly be pulled together into freezer bags or trays. With the fast assembly process and cutting out the dinner hour stress, they are just what every frazzled working mom needs, as we try to keep up with the never ending demands and stresses that life throws our direction.
Erin Chase is the home chef and meal planner extraordinaire behind $5 Dinners and the new FreezEasy freezer cooking meal plans. When not stashing meals in her freezer or sipping on a glass of wine, you’ll find her chasing her four boys around the neighborhood or out for a run with her puppy at the park.