You’ve got a short window of time to get food on the table after a long day with the kids or at work, but a big freezer. Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting author Sarah Deveau has the solution for you! In this three part series on Freezer Meal Planning, she’ll teach you everything you need to know about cooking for the freezer.

There are plenty of great one-dish freezer meals out there, but there are just as many recipes that simply help you prep certain parts of the dinner. The hamburger for tacos, marinating meat for the grill, veggies for a stir fry – they’re elements, not a meal.

I have to admit, I mostly avoid these recipes. The recipes that appeal to me most are the ones that I’ll just need to add a side of rice to, or pasta – quick sides with little work involved. You can make this process even quicker by making a large pot of rice at the start of the week and working through it as the week progresses – it keeps perfectly and is no worse for wear for being heated up. I cook batches of pasta and simply pop it in boiling water for one minute to reheat – it tastes fine too.

In the past few years though, our family has discovered the joy of eating fresh, raw fruits and veggies with dinner. I grew up in a household that ate only hot foods for dinner. Lots of shake and bake chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy. Now, I keep an airtight container with compartments in the fridge with fresh fruit and veggies cut up. Once the main dish is ready, I pop the fruit and veggie tray on the table for sides and we’re ready to eat. It’s also handy for healthy snacking too.

I hope the tips and tricks I’ve shared in these three guest blog posts will give you the confidence to attempt a freezer meal cooking day. Send your spouse out of the house with the kids, put on a Molly Ringwald marathon and have fun!

More posts in this series:

Sarah Deveau is the author of Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting. She blogs about money at Yummy Mummy Club and at Money Smart Mom.