I grew up on TV dinners. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did cook as well. But there were always frozen diners in the freezer. My parents are Baby Boomers and grew up with new convenience foods and so therefore I did as well. Whenever someone had to work late, I had some extra curricular activity or no one felt like cooking — to the freezer we went. And even now, almost 20 years after I moved out of the house, my parents still stock their freezer with TV dinners. But when I left their house my world opened some. I cooked the family meals I’d learned, I watched Emeril and Rachel Ray and got a few more recipes and I learned that not ALL TV dinners were created equal. I started buying differently and cooking differently. The frozen food in my freezer was no longer the banquet, stouffers, michealina varieties but the upper scale, “healthier” varieties.
Now that I have my own family there are even less frozen “meals” purchased from the store. Most of my freezer is now split into two Frozen meal categories:
1. Prepped freezer meals ready to be cooked
2. Leftovers frozen for quick reheating — THIS is my new TV Dinner. A way to have the convenience of a commercially packaged frozen meal — but with my home cooked healthy food!!!
Fast forward to last week. Part of my pre-vacation prep is to always take left overs from the fridge and place them in the freezer. I use the same containers in both places so it literally takes me a minute to clean out and save the food from spoilage. Typically I leave it there until I’m working late or at a meeting and can tell hubby to pull something from the freezer and heat it up for dinner if he doesn’t feel like cooking.
When we returned from our trip we must have all caught one of those pesky bugs you get from air travel (is there anyone who doesn’t get sick traveling by plane during the Holidays?) Hubby and I were headachey and in no mood to make a grocery store run let alone stand at a stove for 15 – 30 minutes to prepare something to eat. SO just like in my childhood — to the freezer we went. And looky there, a nice little selection of dinners! We had some tasty nachos with the leftover taco night ingredients I had dumped into one container. I just defrosted all the dish poured it over corn chips (yep rice and all) and topped with shredded cheese and melted it to perfection. SO YUMMY! Lunch the next day was Chicken Marsala bowls from Chicken Marsala I had chopped and added to the rice side dish we’d had with it originally. And tonight we had Lasagna. Now hubby did make it to the store so we had fresh veggies and salad fixins by this time. But I’m so so glad that I’ve instituted this practice before our trips or whenever we are tired of eating “those” leftovers. It saves us money for sure by not trashing the food and not purchasing commercially made frozen meals, saves time when we reheat them and saves our bodies from all that commercially processed, HFCS, MSG and preservative laden foods we’d otherwise have on hand.