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Ready or Not #67: TV Dinners

Updated: Jan 4, 2023

I had a friend e-mail me the other day asking about how to make quick easy meals. Actually, most all of my recipes are quick and easy, and unless you want to eat out every night or get to know the pizza delivery man by his first name, you are going to have to put some energy into refueling your body on a daily basis.

There are several ways that this can be accomplished. One that I really like is what my mom and dad did when I was younger. My grandmother was living by herself, and she just wasn’t paying attention to what she was eating and she wasn’t eating nearly enough to keep herself healthy. My parents’ solution was to make homemade TV dinners.

This was in the pre-microwave era and so my parents went to a local restaurant supply store and bought a bunch of tin TV dinner style trays. My mom would fix up a week’s worth of lunches and dinners and take them to my grandma’s house and put them in her freezer. Each night before going to bed my grandma would take out two meals of whatever she felt like eating the next day for lunch and dinner (everything was labeled on the tinfoil covering the meals), and put them in the fridge to thaw out. The next day she would put them in the oven at the appropriate time and have a delicious, nutritious, home cooked meal. At the end of the week mom and dad would retrieve the trays and trade them for the next weeks’ worth of meals. Grandma stayed healthy and my parents didn’t worry about whether or not she was eating well.

If there is only one or two of you at home, this is a really easy way to keep quick and easy meals on hand, and also save money. I know that you can buy TV dinners, but if you make them from scratch, using your food storage, you will know exactly what is in it, and it will be cheaper and healthier. Also, we now have the microwave and reusable plastic containers, some with separate compartments. Life just gets better and better.

If your family is larger, then it gets even easier. You can make casserole type dinners, such as lasagna, and freeze them in one large container. Think about what you like eating and then just adapt the recipe. One good idea is to pre-cook and pre-season the hamburger. Cook a pound of hamburger and season it with taco seasoning and then freeze it. Make a dozen tortilla shells (use the recipe I gave you), cook them up and then freeze them. Then, the night before, take the meat and tortillas out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw. When everybody comes home for dinner, all you have to do is dice up a tomato, throw the meat into the microwave and set the table with your favorite condiments and presto! Dinner is ready! And it tastes good. Think about what your family likes and see what can be prepared ahead of time. Soups and chili freeze well too.

There are two ways to go about getting meals prepared ahead of time. One way is to make double or triple the amount of whatever you are making for dinner at the time, and just freeze the other portions for another day when you really, really don’t want to cook.

The other way is to take a Saturday afternoon, and a list of what you want to eat all week long, and then just get to cookin’. There are actually a lot of people who do this and if you think about it, it is just plain smart. You can either cook for only three to four hours on a Saturday versus a half an hour or an hour EVERY night. You also only have to clean up one cooking mess on Saturday, OR you will end up cleaning a cooking mess every night. And if you think about it, you use a lot of the same pans and utensils and cook a lot of the same stuff for every meal. For example, if you are going to have sloppy joes one night, tacos the next and spaghetti after that, then you can cook three pounds of hamburger ALL AT ONCE. One pan, one clean up, same amount of time and it is quick and easy.

There a now a lot of local people that you can order pre-made healthy meals if you are inclined to go in that direction, and can afford it. Whatever you have to do to stay healthy, eat healthy, and have food in your storage. Consider buying an extra meal each time you order and throwing it in your freezer. That is also food storage.


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