How your freezer can keep you out of the fast food drive-thru

Emergency Meal Planning

by Deborah Taylor-Hough

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If your home is anything like mine, you've probably found that five o'clock each evening is one of the most hectic times of the day. Mom and dad are just finishing up a long day of work at home or at the office. The kids are hungry and tired after a full day of school and afternoon sports. It's time to fix supper or at least we should be getting dinner started if we want to eat a meal before midnight!

But what's for dinner tonight? Well, your guess is probably as good as mine, and it seems like more often than not, nobody knows! So the whole family hops into the car and heads through the local drive-thru for the third time this week.

Someone I know once called it "crisis meal planning." Each night's dinner is the latest in a string of mealtime crisis management decisions. Everyone's tired. The kids are hungry. The whining has started in earnest. What's a parent to do?

Rather than planning ahead to prevent panic and poor nutritional choices, many families coast through their day without giving a thought to dinner, and then discover that they've crashed headlong into that nightly mealtime crisis once again.

Cooking ahead for the freezer can be the answer to this all-too-frequent mealtime dilemma. I've discovered as people become more adept and experienced at cooking for the freezer, they often switch from doing a full one-day-each-month cooking frenzy to using a simpler process referred to as "mini-sessions." A mini-session consists of choosing one main ingredient, such as chicken, and then preparing a group of chicken recipes in a single afternoon or evening. A mini-session usually involves only an hour or two of cooking rather than the eight to ten hours often required for a complete month of cooking.

By waiting for main ingredients to go on sale at your local market, you can stock up on large quantities and take advantage of great prices. For example, if you stock up on lean ground beef at this week's sale, a relatively short mini-session could easily supply you with five to ten ground beef meals tucked away in the freezer. When chicken goes on sale later in the month, you can add another five to ten meals to your personal stash of Frozen Assets.

Simply by purchasing and cooking in bulk as you follow the sale flyers from the grocery store, you can save a great deal of time and money without ever investing an entire day in a monthly cooking session.

For more information on cooking ahead for the freezer, go to Or consider joining the Frozen Assets Email Discussion Group to share tips, recipes and encouragement with other cooks investigating the benefits of preparing meals ahead of time for the freezer. For details and subscribing information, go to

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: a practical guide for saving your time, money and sanity. She also edits the Simple Times email newsletter. To subscribe, visit Debi online at:

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