There’s a funny thing about Dinner Time – it happens every. single. day. And despite this known fact, even the best of us can have complete-panic moments.
If you’ve been around KS for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “meal plan” more than once.
For some, making a meal plan is really just combining two four-letter words together (you know what I mean). And for some, it’s been part of your routine for so long, it’s no biggie.
But it doesn’t matter how good you are at planning. At some point, you have to execute this beautiful plan you have sweated blood over (or dreamily composed on chartreuse stationery using your favorite calligraphy pen).
No matter how well you plan (or don’t), emergencies and interruptions happen to the best of us.
- Mama is sick and just can’t muster the energy to cook.
- Kids get home from school and need help with a project that involves driving all over town.
- Friend calls late in the day and needs you to watch her toddler so she can visit her mom in the hospital.
- It’s a beautiful day outside and you end up spending all afternoon at the park.
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as finding yourself staring at the fridge fifteen minutes before dinner, as you realize it’s too late to bake that pot roast you had been planning.
The solution, culture tells us, is to eat out. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with the occasional trip out, it’s not really economical (or even possible for some families with food allergies).
This post is part of a mini meal planning series, including so far:
- How to Get out of a Meal Planning Rut
- The Ultimate Meal Planning Guide to Eat Real Food Every Night
- The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Real Food on the Breakfast Table
- The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Real Food on the Dinner Table
- and more to come!
So let me put another idea before you:
Make an Emergency Meal List.
No, I don’t mean an emergency-preparedness kit to survive an apocalypse. I mean a list of meals that you know your family likes that you can whip together in under ten minutes. I don’t know about you, but when I’m tight on time, it’s very very hard for me to compose my brain to think. My brain blanks, forgetting obvious options.
So the solution? Make an Emergency Meal List so that your thinking is already done for you.
4 Steps to Create Your Emergency Meal List
- Begin making a list of meals your family likes that you can make in under ten minutes. Breakfasts and lunches are great for this category.
- Avoid any ideas that involve defrosting ingredients. Remember, you’re going for speed.
- Put a star by meals that involve minimal dishes. When you’re on a time crunch, the last thing you want to do is have a messy clean up.
- Post this list on the side of your fridge. Out of sight = out of mind. You need a reliable go-to list so that when the heat of the rush hits, you aren’t scrambling.
Want to see my list?
- Scrambled Eggs and Toast
- Yogurt with Fruit and Nuts
- Larabars and Applesauce (this one gets a special star on my list for also being PORTABLE. If you’re on top of the game, you can make your own Larabar-like snack.)
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Apples, and Frozen Peas
- Nut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Apples, Carrot Sticks
- Cheese Slices, Apples, and Matzo Crackers (I love that Matzo crackers only have two ingredients!)
- Canned Tuna Fish, Matzo Crackers, and Apples
- (Homemade) Canned Chicken, Toast, and (Homemade) Canned Green Beans
Got A Little More Time than Ten Minutes?
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Once A Month Meals, an amazing website dedicated to freezer cooking. I just recently discovered the awesomeness of Once A Month Meals. Once you join their website, you can peruse their countless recipes – including tons that you can fully cook and then freeze… meaning all you have to do is thaw and reheat.
So while these may not qualify for your Ready-In-Ten-Minutes Emergency list, OAMM’s meals are definitely on my backup list when I have a little bit more time but am still struggling to make dinner happen as planned.
OAMM even walks you through how to cook, freeze, reheat, and serve side dishes like rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, and other sides that can take a loooooooong time to cook, but are ready in a snap when using their freezer methods.
Let’s just say – OAMM is pretty much changing my life.
So be sure to check them out. And also, grab a piece of paper and start writing your Emergency Meals List. Because interruptions happen and you don’t want to be caught off guard. 🙂
And if you’re needing a good chuckle, you’ll have to read this story about the day I decided to make smoothies from my Emergency Meals List. Let’s just say the day that I triumphed over the Zombie Smoothie will go down in the annals of hilarious history in my family…
Disclosure: Kitchen Stewardship is an affiliate of OAMM but Bethany was already a customer 🙂