I’ve been talking the last couple weeks about menu planning (you can read my other two posts here and here), because I. Love. Menu planning! It is one sure-fire way to make me a more cool, calm, and collected momma.
But even with the best intentions, life happens. Your days get a little busier than expected, you forget to defrost (or some other important step, like planning to have sloppy joes but forgetting to make buns. Yep, I’ve done that!), or you just plain forget to plan and here it is Monday afternoon!
All is not lost! You don’t have to resort to fast food! Plan now and be prepared for those nights by putting together an Emergency Dinner binder for those last-minute dinner scrambles.
Your Emergency Dinner binder will include:
- Go-to favorite recipes that you can throw together quickly
- A List of dinner ideas you know by heart or that don’t require a recipe
- A handy reference page of cooking instructions for the items on your list
- Recipes that require ingredients you know you always have on hand
- Anything you might need to pull together a quick meal!
Here are a few ideas from my list of go-to dinners:
- Spaghetti – I always have pasta, marinara sauce, and ground beef on hand.
- Skillet Deer – My husband is a big deer hunter, so we always have venison in the freezer. When I really need a quick, easy meal, I thinly slice a deer loin, add some seasoning, and fry it in the skillet.
- Breakfast for dinner – Eggs, bacon/sausage, waffles/pancakes or toast, and some fruit
- “Goop” – Hamburger and beans with a mixture of ketchup, mustard, & Worcestershire sauce on bread. It’s not the fanciest, but it’s tasty!
- Fish – Tilapia fillets thaw really quickly and take no time at all to cook in a skillet, in the oven, or on the George Foreman grill.
- Chicken & Rice – You can keep the chicken simple, just adding some salt & pepper or any seasoning blend of your choice, and grill it on the George Foreman. The rice takes a little time – about 20-30 minutes – but is so easy in the rice cooker. I can put it in and leave it while I cook the chicken and whip up some sides.
With a little extra forethought and preparation, you can expand your repertoire of in-a-pinch dinners with a nice stash of freezer meals!
Here are some dinners I know I can count on from my freezer cooking:
- Tacos – I always have ground beef, and I often have already-seasoned taco meat, in the freezer. I usually have tortilla shells in the freezer, too. During the summer, this is an especially inviting option because I can count on lettuce, tomatoes, and jalapeños from the garden. Plus, I always have jars of homemade salsa!
- Pizza – Every so often, I will make a batch of pizza dough in the bread machine, then divide it into four balls and put them in the freezer. One ball of dough makes a small pizza, and two balls makes a nice 9×13 size deep dish pizza.
- Casseroles – I have a variety of casseroles from my freezer cooking sessions, such as lasagna casserole, tater tot casserole, spaghizza (from Money Saving Mom – find it here), or chicken spaghetti.
- Crockpot meals – Okay, so I would have to realize I don’t have a plan by morning so that I can put the meal in the crockpot, but it’s a good option if I have at least 6 hours notice!
What about you? What’s on your list of go-to meals? Share with us in a comment below!
If this is all new to you, I hope by now you see that with a good meal planning system, plus your emergency binder, you can seriously cut down on dinner time stress! Let dinners be a time of love, laughter, and good food instead!