No-fuss Meals

Recently my mother-in-law called to ask if we were going to be around the following day for lunch, since they would be stopping by. She did say “please don’t fuss over what to make”, which I didn’t. (I used to, mind you).
I consider a ‘no fuss’ lunch to be one of the following:

a) peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

b) leftovers

c) pizza (and not homemade, either)

However, we had had peanut butter & jelly sandwiches two days before, we didn’t have enough leftovers to serve us and them, and Mark was working, so pizza wasn't the handiest. (It just really isn’t a ‘no fuss’ trip to get boots, hats, and raincoats on each child and haul all three of them outside in the pouring-down rain in order to drive 5 minutes away, heave them all out of the van, run inside the pizza place, grab the pizza, rush through the rain back to the van, get them all buckled in to drive the 5 minutes home. That’s a lot of work for a soggy pizza.

So. I learned a few years ago- in one of my let’s-be-more-frugal ventures, how to handle spontaneous visits: have stuff in the freezer. Not store-bought meals, but homemade meals. For a season in our lives, every time I cooked (so, every night, on a good week), I doubled the recipe and froze the second portion. This worked for awhile, but certain things are better/easier/more functional frozen, and others, not so much. So- I’ve scaled it down a bit, but this is what I DO do:

-Every time I make soup, I double (or even triple) the recipe. After we’ve eaten our portion for the night, I let the pot of soup cool, then scoop it into a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag(s), write the name and date on the outside of the bag, and lay it in my freezer.

-Every few months I also buy those enormous cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste from Costco, and spend a couple of hours in the kitchen one evening making sauces: pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and lasagna sauce. I usually buy enough to make three batches of each, (sometimes more of the pizza sauce). Then I let those cool, and spoon the lasagna sauce into freezer bags, and the spaghetti and pizza sauces into tupperware-type containers, and load them all up into my freezer.

That’s pretty much all I do for freezer meals, but it makes a huge difference. It is so practical to double a recipe!

Back to the phone call from the in-laws. The following morning I got up, went to my freezer, pulled out a bag of frozen Italian Vegetable Soup, set the bag into a bowl of warm water, and left it to thaw. A couple of hours later I opened the bag, dumped it into the pot, turned the stove on low, and went to make some blueberry muffins. (Also something I have on hand always: frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. We pick them every summer and stock up.) The muffins took me maybe 20 minutes total (15 of that was baking time), and lunch was ready! No fuss!

ps- if any of you readers have any other tips or good frozen-meal ideas, DO share! :) I love this kind of thing... :)


  1. May. 8, 2006 - Again, I thank you...
    Posted by Mark
    Thanks for being such a wonderful planner and a great cook. I sure enjoy all that you prepare for us (both the fresh and frozen portions). Thanks also for so graciously hosting my folks.

    Love you!!


    May. 10, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Rebeca
    I do the Double (or Triple) soup thing too. My goal, although I haven't been so good at it lately, is to make two meals a week that are freezable, so that I can always have something to pull out of the freezer, and then plan in two meals per week that are already made!
    That's so sweet that your husband comments on your blog!


    May. 10, 2006 - Untitled Comment
    Posted by Meagan
    I haven't been as regular about freezing as I was awhile ago, but enchiladas and meatloaf, and lasagna were all good freezer meals, and good for throwing into a bag to deliver to a friend in need, no advance notice necessary!
    Your entry reminds me to get back onto to freezing; thanks for the thrifty reminder!


    May. 10, 2006 - Thanks for this recipe, it sounds quite tasty!
    Posted by kevmem
    Is there any way to make it without the milk? I'm having trouble with milk these days, a new revelation to me, so could I add more oil?

    Also I was tagged, so now I'm tagging each of you: Stacy and Amy! You each have to tell 6 things about yourselves that you that others may not know about you. Then you get to tag 6 others....I didn't make this up, I'm just following directions. UNLESS you have already been tagged. Then you are off the hook.

  2. Yummy - I will start doing that with the tomato based sauces! Great idea. Can you share your recipes for those sauces?

    I make HUGE batches of chili (both white and regular) and then freeze it in pint size containers so we can pull it out a little at a time if we want to. (Like for my husband for lunches to take, or me for a quick healthy lunch).

    I also will brown up 8 pounds of ground beef at a time and once it's cool, I will put it into 10 ziploc bags (therefore just under a pound each, satisfying the frugal shopper in me). I have found that pre-cooked ground beef lasts longer in the freezer and comes out with a better texture than frozen raw beef. Maybe that is just me. :)


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