Friday, October 30, 2015

Oldies But Goodies: In-A-Pinch Meals!

For the purposes of this writing, in-a-pinch meals are defined as being able to put a meal on the table for your family when (1) emergency situations arise that take you out of the home or make it difficult to prepare a meal, (2) when you’re not physically able to cook, (3) when unexpected company drops in and a meal is needed (4) for Sunday dinner in a hurry or (5) for those days when your ‘best laid plans’ just don’t happen.

How do we have in-a-pinch meals on hand for those times when we need them and don't need or want to make a trip to the nearest fast food restaurant? We’re going to talk about 3 ways …

Freezer Meals
This is where once-a-month cooking comes into play. Plan ahead and decide on the number of meals you’d like to have on hand for the upcoming month. Then, decide what those meals will be. Prepare them to the point of placing them in the oven or on the stove to cook then freeze them. (Soups/stews can be fully cooked and then frozen.) Only prepare those meals that will freeze and thaw well. It’s a waste of time and food to go to all that work only to have a non-eatable meal after cooking. Some suggestions might include lasagna, soups, casseroles etc. When ready to use the meals, if possible allow enough time to thaw and cook. If time is an issue, defrost meal in microwave then cook.

Here’s another way to utilize the freezer along with any leftovers you might have. When you cook a meal, double your portions. Before you serve the meal to your family, fill a plastic divided plate that has its own lid for each member of your family from what you’ve cooked. Put the lid on securely, add a piece of freezer tape approximately 2 inches long on top of the lid and write the contents of the meal on the freezer tape along with the date. These can be taken out and microwaved in a pinch for a nutritious meal in a hurry.

Meals in a Jar
Soups, stews, and meats can be canned in jars which, means they’re ready to heat and eat at a moments notice. This is what I call meals in a jar. Add breads or side dishes to the meals in a jar and you have a complete meal.

What about you, how do you provide meals in-a-pinch for those times when cooking from scratch is not an option?

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