Ain’t no shame in the half-homemade game.
We are all about home cooking here. We both love to cook (well, obviously!) and one of our missions is to show you how simple and easy home cooking can be. But we’re also busy, working parents. And let’s be real, sometimes no matter how fool-proof that meal plan seems, a home-cooked meal just isn’t happening.
Here are our favourite staples that you will always find deep in our freezers for those nights when you just. can’t. even. These aren’t your teeny tiny frozen dinners that will leave you hungry within 10 minutes, either. These are foods that will help you create a satisfying and delicious meal in a matter of minutes. Because food should always be just that, delicious and satisfying.
Our Favourite Freezer Staples
Cheese Ravioli or Tortellini
This is by far and away my husband’s favourite dinner. A big ‘ol bowl of cheese tortellini or ravioli tossed in tomato sauce with a very generous helping of parm. My favourite brand? Ziggy’s. And full disclosure – it isn’t the homemade sauce. I always have a jar of my favourite store-bought tomato sauce (that’s for another post!) in the pantry at all times. I could slave away and make pasta and sauce all from scratch like a good Italian nona, but nothing receives the praise I get from some store-bought pasta and sauce. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Loaf of Bread
If you always have a loaf of bread on hand, you are basically halfway to one of the best meals of all time – sandwich night. Weather you’re cooking up some fancy grilled cheese, a delicious breakfast sammie, or a simple pb&j, if you’ve already got that loaf of bread on hand, you are always 5-7 minutes away from dinner. And I LOVE this Stonemill sourdough bread – it’s the perfect mix of whole grain and sourdough flavour and toasts up to perfection.
Frozen Pea/Corn/Carrot Mix
So you may have forgotten, but I am indeed a dietitian. So I generally like to have some sort of veg with my meals most of the time (and there are many a night that a side veg doesn’t happen and that’s a-ok too!). So when I’m in a pinch, defrosting some of this frozen mix is the way I roll. And it’s not a fancy mix – I always buy the no-name variety. And bonus – the kids seem to gobble this up. Seriously, it’s pretty much their favourite food in the world, well, besides chocolate. But that’s not really a fair fight!
Edamame (no shell)
The perfect snack-for-dinner food. When it’s week-end and we’re low on groceries and motivation to cook, I’ll make a snack spread for dinner. Crackers, hummus, cut up fruit and veg, cheese, nuts and edamame are all on rotation. Dinner in 5 minutes? Yup! I also love adding a bowl of edamame to the table when we’re trying something new that I’m not sure my toddler will like (or even try!). One of our mottos at meal time is ‘be considerate without catering’. By making sure there’s always one food at the table I know my daughter will eat, it takes the pressure off her to eat the new food (which means she’ll be more likely to try it) and the stress off me, because I know there’s something healthful available for her to eat.
Burgers (summer)/ Pizza (winter)
OK, I couldn’t chose here. So I decided to go seasonal. When BBQ season is in full swing, we always have a box of burgers in the freezer. Come winter, it’s frozen pizza. They’re both perfect jumping off points for a half-homemade meal. Both are easy to gussy up with extra toppings or serve alongside a big salad. Make it a pre-bagged salad for optimal convenience. Yes, homemade may taste better, be more healthful and may even be cheaper, but it doesn’t mean that convenience foods aren’t tasty or satisfying or nourishing. Making everything from scratch and aiming for a ‘perfect’ nutrition profile is not only unrealistic, it’s no fun. Convenience foods are exactly what they claim to be. Foods, that are convenient. I like both of those things.
My favourite frozen pizza is PC Blue Menu Toppings First Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Stone Baked Thin Crust Pizza. For burgers, I’m partial to veggie burgers. I love PC Thick & Juicy Portobello Swiss and Mushroom Burgers and although I don’t have a Costco membership, I’ve tried the Costco Veggie Patties and think they are a delight.
These feature heavily on our blog, so I think it’s obvious they’re a staple in our house! Here are some delicious ways to use them:
The question of whether fresh or frozen is ‘better’ is age old. They’re both great, and depending on what type of fruit it is, what time of year it is and what it’s being used for, either can be the ‘best’ choice for you. A priority for me is supporting Canadian producers. In the summer, I try to buy seasonal, fresh fruit that’s grown close to home. In the winter, I look for frozen fruit that is labeled as a Product of Canada. Sometimes I want mangoes or pineapple…so I buy them, fresh or frozen, whatever makes sense. Buy whatever makes the most sense to you. You’re buying fruit after all, it’s always a good choice.
Do tell…what are your frozen food staples?
Dara & Erin