I’m not sure how dinnertime plays out in your household, but in my home dinnertime resembles The Hunger Games. The arena: the family dining table. The contestants: two exhausted parents and two toddlers jacked up on dreams of ice cream only to be confronted with broccoli. The outcome: may the odds be ever in your favor.
I would rather have a tooth pulled than deal with daily dinner battles. There’s nothing quite so demoralizing as spending precious time and energy making dinner only to have your family turn up their nose and declare they’re not hungry, then five minutes later ask for a pb&j sandwich.
My solution and dinner savior are freezer meals.
I am so passionate about freezer meals that I started a freezer meal business this year. My goals are always the same: minimal prep (fewer than 15 minutes from start to finish), everyone has to eat it without drama, and the side dishes have to be easy as well.
Below are three healthy, family friendly freezer meals with suggestions for side dishes! No one has time to make a separate meal for picky eaters, so change up the ingredients to suit your family’s preference. If your kids don’t like onions or chunks of tomatoes, simply leave them out or puree them. Pro tip: don’t ever underestimate the power of the puree. I like to make cleanup super easy as well and use aluminum pans from Dollar Tree. All the recipes are relatively inexpensive to make, so do yourself a favor and make multiple batches!
My kids request this weekly. You can add ground beef to it if your husband (like mine) HAS to have some kind of meat. I’ve been know to finely dice whatever veggies I need to use up and my kids are none the wiser thanks to the veggies being camouflaged by the sauce! I love it because it’s incredibly simple to assemble and completely hands off during bake time. I like to serve this with a garden salad and a piece of garlic toast.
This isn’t a recipe, per se; it’s more of a technique. Buddha bowls are basically copycat Chipotle bowls. I like to buy the small round aluminum pans from Dollar Tree as they’re the perfect serving size. If you are opposed to quick foods made in part in the microwave, scroll on by because this recipe isn’t for you. If you don’t mind some semi-homemade cooking, then follow closely.
Take one package of microwaved Spanish rice and divide it among three bowls. Use as many packages as you need for the amount of bowls you’re making. Add beans of your choice like refried, pinto, or black beans. Add sautéed veggies of choice — my favorites are red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and onions. Top with choice of protein such as seasoned ground beef, leftover cooked chicken, seasoned turkey, or even ground seasoned pork. I typically use taco seasoning for my proteins. Finally, add some cheese and you’re done! Cover tightly with foil and freeze. To cook, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then place on a microwave safe dish (DO NOT PUT ALUMINUM FOIL IN THE MICROWAVE — use either glass or dump it on a plate!) and microwave for one-minute bursts until warmed through.
This is a one-dish meal, so I typically don’t serve it with sides. Instead, I set out dishes of salsa, prepared guacamole, and lettuce and let everyone add their own toppings.
There’s something about kids and miniature food — they LOVE it; at least my kids do. To make this recipe into a freezer meal, assemble as directed in a 9×13 pan. Cover with foil and freeze. When ready to use, thaw overnight or for one hour before baking. Bake as directed.
You can substitute the horseradish for some mustard or mayo. I like to serve this with some veggie chips, fruit, and a garden salad.