With the sun blazing, the rhythm of life a bit slower, and a summer vacation around the corner, it's hard to believe it's almost time for back to school. But it appears the clock isn't slowing down any time soon and the kids will be back in school before I know it.
So what's a busy mom to do? Clean out the freezer, of course! It's been a few months since I really emptied it out and took a good look at what we had and what we needed to eat. It's always a fun challenge to eat from the freezer for a few days (um or a week, given what I found in there!) and I love having a break from cooking. But it also got me thinking about my freezer staples and what I needed to prep as the kids go back to school, and our days get oh so much busier.
What you'll always find in my freezer for a busy breakfast, lunch or dinner:
1. Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos: These are the ultimate fast food. Pre-cooked and ready to go, all you have to do is heat them up and add a topping of your choice (sliced avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, salsa all work beautifully and are all staples around here). They work just as well in the lunchbox (they thaw in the morning and eat at room temp) as they do on the dinner table. And it's just about the same amount of work to make 6 or 60. Want another great version? Check out these Kale & Black Bean Burritos from Meal Makeover Moms.
2. Three Cheese Broccoli & Spinach Lasagne: I have timed this one -- it takes exactly 10 minutes to prepare and then just needs to bake. It's loaded with veggies, delicious and is as great on a rushed Tuesday night as it is on a fancy Saturday night. You don't need to boil the noodles and it doesn't even call for eggs. I always use fresh broccoli (more tasty than frozen) and throw in some fresh spinach as well. Make your own sauce or use bottled - whatever you prefer. And while you are at, make an extra one (or a few!), slice and freeze.
3. Brown Rice: Short grain brown rice is one of the most versatile and affordable foods around. I make a huge pot every week in my pressure cooker on Sunday evenings. Whatever we don't eat, I freeze for another day. With fresh or frozen rice, the opportunities are endless. Some of our favorites include Tex Mex Rice cakes from Weelicious. I've added spinach and chopped broccoli to this basic recipe and it's always a hit. Also good in the lunchbox! If I ask my six year old what she wants for dinner, she will almost always say "rice bowls." This is literally the easiest thing to prepare and the kids love it because they get to customize it to their own tastes. Another weeknight winner - baked fried rice from Oh My Veggies. WIth pineapple, nuts and edamame, what's not to love!? I'd keep this in my freezer too, except we always finish it!
4. Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal: This recipe, from My Whole Food Life, is a total winner. I make a few dozen at a time and serve them for breakfast, on busy mornings, in the lunchbox or when we have friends over for brunch. It's a total breeze to make and it's amazing. I've never met an adult or child who doesn't love these.
5. Falafel: This recipe, from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her amazing book "Isa Does It," is fantastic. I make a ton at a time, reheat on low in the oven, and serve with hummus, veggies and pita for a quick dinner. Once made, the dinner comes together in 10 minutes. I also love throwing these in a tortilla with some fresh veggies for a lunch time falafel wrap.
What are your freezer favorites!?
Happy Back To School to you all!