Everything We’re Eating This Week Is Frozen, Canned, or Jarred (and Honestly? It’s Great)

updated Mar 25, 2020
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This week might be the very worst week for cooking. It’s dark and rainy, the produce is miserable, and the holiday weekend (which I spent by the beach, embracing the moodiness of the weather) means I did absolutely zero shopping, meal planning, or prepping.

I arrived home to a refrigerator with the following contents: 1/2 bottle white wine, 8 tortillas, 3 hard-boiled eggs (possibly bad), a container of coconut yogurt, and a bunch of condiments. I keep a lean refrigerator most of the time, but this might be the saddest it’s been in a long time, probably since last February.

The Freezer Is My February Hero

So I turned to my freezer, which has become my go-to for just this sort of occasion. Here’s what I found:

This is definitely enough to feed me for the week — and I actually felt excited to eat it! The date balls and the bread slices would be breakfast and snacks; the soup and chili, beefed up with some toasted tortillas, would make a few warm-and-cozy lunches, and the pasta and coconut fish (livened up with some Szechuan chili oil) would make satisfying dinners. That left me with just one meal to figure out for the entire week, which I could probably pull together using the frozen shrimp and petite peas that are two of my freezer staples (along with blueberries, which, now that I think of it, could be good with some coconut yogurt and toasted oats).

The really shocking thing is that, until recently, the only things in my freezer would have been ice cream (because, always), giant ice cubes (for cocktails), and an assortment of grains, flours, and nuts. Luckily, I’ve become a freezer believer, putting leftovers in pint-and quart-size containers and neatly labeling them with my trusty blue tape and Sharpie. The only problem with my meal plan for the week is that I’ll need to restock my freezer — fast.

Freezer Ideas from The Kitchn

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Emergency Meal Ideas from The Kitchn Staff

It turns out, I’m not the only one feeling the end-of-February burnout. I’m also not the only one making tiny miracles from whatever is in the freezer, fridge, or pantry. Here’s how the Kitchn staff is getting scrappy this week:

“For the next few days I’m eating Faith Durand’s lighter tuna salad sandwiches, which is my I have no idea what to make but it has to be easy and cheap lunch.” – Ariel Knutson, Features Director

“I always have an ’emergency ziti‘ in the freezer, except for now. Because we just ate it.(Yes, we actually call it ’emergency ziti.’)” – Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

“At the start of the week, I made a lazy version of this soup because soup is the only thing I want to eat right now. I didn’t have fresh thyme so I used dried and I tossed a can of white beans to add some protein. Puree it all together and you’ve got a warming lunch all week.” – Sheela Prakash, Senior Contributing Food Editor

“My absolute favorite emergency pantry meal these days has been coming from my stash of cans and jars — specifically, this Maya Kaimal Goan Coconut Simmer Sauce, which I combine with a can of coconut milk and a can of chickpeas. Throw in a bag of frozen cauliflower and some chopped spinach and it’s an incredibly easy and fast veggie dish that manages to feel luxurious. (I also pull this trick with another Maya Kaimal sauce and chicken thighs in the Instant Pot; 20 minutes on HIGH and it’s the most luscious chicken dinner.)” – Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief

Your turn! We’d love to hear your own emergency, from-the-freezer dinners for the weeks when you just need something easy.