I love my kids. I don’t love the sickness they bring home. I especially don’t love it when I catch with what they brought home. Aside from feeling generally terrible, when you’re sick you still have to referee arguments and feed your little germ carriers – I mean kids. I’m not above a movie day to help with the squabbles. But food? That takes effort.
My husband left early for a scheduled event, so I knew ahead of time I was going to be on my own on a recent Sunday. But I didn’t expect to wake up with a terrible cold. Luckily a handy household appliance stepped in to save my Sunday. Here’s how you can get your freezer ready to be your mealtime contingency plan from breakfast to bedtime.
Double the recipe. I always make more pancakes and waffles than the family will eat. They freeze beautifully in a gallon-size zipper bag. Then all you have to do is microwave a few pancakes or pop one or two waffles in the toaster and put them on the plate. Add some fruit on the side and you’ve got an easy breakfast that will make your picky eaters happy.
You can also scramble a bunch of eggs and toss in your preferred mix-ins: think cheese, sausage, bacon, ham, chopped tomatoes, etc. Roll your filling into some tortillas to make breakfast burritos, and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. A couple of minutes in the microwave and they’re ready to go. These portable breakfasts are great for heading out the door on weekdays, too!
Okay, this one’s not from the freezer, but since my kids would graze all day if I let them, snacks should be a part of the post. We always keep yogurt tubes on hand for school lunches, and we have fresh fruit and crackers, too. These are blissfully low effort for sick parents, and they can still have something healthy.
Tots. Those tasty little potato bites are kid pleasers, and all you have to do is pour them onto a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven. While you’re at it, throw a few extra on the pan for yourself, because even if you feel crummy, tots help. Trust me, I know.
I also keep some hot dogs in the fridge or freezer at any given time. Yes, I know they’re not the healthiest bits of food. But I didn’t say I feed them to the kids often, and you can get better quality ones if you’re willing to spend a little more. They even have vegetarian dogs if you prefer. I don’t typically have hot dog buns on hand, and the kids don’t mind a bit. Add some grape tomatoes, cut veggies and ranch dressing on the side, and lunch is taken care of.
I said it once, and I’ll say it again – double the recipe. You may not even have to “double” it if you’ve got a smaller family. For example, my family of four can’t polish off a 13×9 pan of lasagna, so I’ll generally make it in an 8×8 pan. This allows for seconds at the table and still leaves a few leftover servings for workday lunches . If you still make the full recipe, that means you’ve got another 8×8 pan ready to go!
Don’t worry about losing a glass dish to the freezer for a month – just line it with plastic wrap, allowing for several inches to hang over each side. Build your second mini casserole on top of the wrap and put it directly into the freezer. Once it’s frozen, lift the whole from the dish using that overlapping wrap. Fold the excess wrap over the top and toss it into a labeled zip top freezer bag. If it’s not a dish you make often, write the day-of cooking instructions on your bag.
Whether you save it for a sick day or a weeknight dinner later on in the month, all you have to do to prepare it is to grab that original pan, peel of the plastic and drop the tasty ice cube into the dish. Let it thaw in the fridge during the day and dinner will be ready to slide into the oven! You can do this with nearly any casserole. If you’re really organized, you can do some periodic “freezer cooking” sessions and have lots of other options to choose from. If you won’t have a fully thawed dish by dinner, don’t panic – most recipes have directions for cooking casseroles from frozen, too.
There you have it! While you have to do some planning and prep in advance, it really doesn’t have to be difficult. I managed to keep my kids fed all day while I mostly rested on the couch. I also got caught up on the DVR. Win-win!