Coming home from vacation can be rough: Not only are you not on vacation anymore, as evinced by the suitcases stuffed to the max with dirty laundry and the fact that your bedroom window probably doesn't have a postcard-like view of white sand beaches or snow-capped mountains, but there is also regular life waiting for you. You have to deal with that inbox overflowing with emails and — here's the real rub — you have to feed yourself! Through that pina colada-induced brain fog, you might (vaguely) recollect something known as meal planning.
When I used to come home from vacation to an empty fridge, I dealt with this return to reality with a jar of peanut butter and a bag of stale pretzels. They would satiate my hunger until I could dash to the grocery store.
Now that I have a baby and a toddler, I can't employ the same laissez-faire technique. (Sadly, I don't have a grocery genie to make food magically appear in my fridge when I arrive home.) As a mom, I've come to rely on a single strategy to ease the transition back to real life. It takes a little bit of planning ahead, but it's definitely worth it.
The smartest thing I do before I leave on a trip is to stock the freezer with enough food to fill us up for a few meals.
Whether my brood comes home at 1 p.m. or 1 a.m., one of us is always hungry. Defrost-friendly dishes feed my fam and make me feel like "I got this" (even if I'm so tired I can't stand up straight).
The best part about this freezer plan is its ease: All I do is make a few extra portions of the meals we're already consuming before I leave. Once the freezer is full of good-to-go meals, there's no temptation to stop for fast food or worry about meal planning when my internal clock is somewhere over Greenland.
Don't Forget the Veggies!
I can't tell you how many times I've looked in my fridge the night before leaving on a trip only to realize I've got a bunch of veggies that won't survive my time away. Even though I'm usually running behind on the packing front, I take an extra 10 minutes to chop up all my veggies and put them into a freezer bag or sealed container. Pre-chopped veggies go with any pantry staple or sauce kicking around my fridge.
Get Inspired: 17 Freezer Meals for When You Come Back from Vacation