I hope you read my PAK series about planning ahead in the kitchen. It’s good information and I refer back to it myself regularly. You know how sometimes you forget what you used to do? Well, sometimes I forget what I used to do and then wrote about! When I read that now, I am reminded of when I was a little more organized and inspired!
Something I mentioned in that series that I’d like to share with you today is my Meal in a Basket. I love plastic baskets and boxes. They help keep me organized and I have a lot of them. Did you know, you can have piles and still look organized if they are in baskets and boxes? But I digress!
A Meal in a Basket is a complete meal in a container, with a recipe/instruction card included that anyone of cooking age in your family can make in an emergency. What’s an emergency? Well, you’ll have to decide that for yourself. In our family, dinner emergencies might be caused by innumerable things like: sitting with your 10 year old all day while he pokes along with his school work, being called out to deal with something business related for your hubby, a teething and crying baby. Well, you get the idea. It’s whatever keeps you from getting your meal prep for that day done.
I am not going to claim that all of my Meals in a Basket are the healthiest meals. But they are healthier than fast food and take out. They’re cheaper and filling, too. Here’s an example of a basket for Salmon Alfredo with Buttered Peas and Brownies for Dessert. The pasta is whole wheat, the salmon canned, the peas are organic and the sauce mix is from Oregon Spice, so it doesn’t have a bunch of junk in it:
Where are the peas? Well, the peas are in the freezer. I can’t put everything into the basket in the pantry. So here’s what I do: I write the instructions on an index card, listing what should be served with the meal and, I only include items that I always have in the house.
There are certain things I always keep in the house, and frozen peas is one of them. I buy them in large 5 lb. bags from Azure Standard. I also always have corn and broccoli in the freezer, too. I always have butter and raw milk and cream in the house, too. The brownie mixes I pick up when they are .99 and keep on hand for nights when I need a Meal in a Basket. They are not something we use regularly. But like I always say, you gotta do what you gotta do! They help fill in the gaps if your meal is a bit on the lighter side.
I absolutely LOVE these baskets, which I picked up in red and white at Walmart a few years ago. I use them for everything!
A few more examples of the Meal in a Basket that I do are:
Clams in Red Sauce over Fettucine – 2 cans clams, 1 lb. pasta, 1 can tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, sun dried tomatoes. Serve with bread and green salad.
Tuna Casserole – 2 cans tuna, 1 can cream of chicken soup (Pacific has a healthier version, now, or you can easily make your own cream sauce), sour cream, egg noodles, any kind of cheese on hand, frozen broccoli or peas and corn.
Homemade Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli – 1 lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni, any kind of cheese you have on hand, butter, thickening agent (white flour, bean flour, arrowroot powder, etc.) milk, frozen broccoli.
Yeah, I know, you’re seeing a pattern here. What can I say? Pasta is a good go to quick meal.
If I keep these meals meatless or use only pantry meats, I can use these meals during a different kind of emergency. The kind where I forgot to defrost the meat. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. I know you do.
I have other quick fall back meals in my repertoire that I use that I will share with you later this week. But hopefully that gets you inspired to create your own Meal in a Basket with meals from your own repertoire.
This post is part of the Homemaking Link Up at Raising Homemakers. Visit their site to see other great homemaking ideas!