Always have an answer when you ask yourself “Do I have anything I can cook for supper?”
It happens to all of us. We find ourselves at the end of a harried day, picking up one kid from one side of town and driving to the other for kidlet #2…rushing through traffic on our way home as our minds spin “What can I fix for supper? What do I have on hand? Do I need to stop at the grocery store to get something?” and then we pass that neon drive through sign and thoughts of “Just this once. It will be so easy. You’ve had such a long day. Just turn and you don’t have to worry about it anymore, supper is taken care of.”
Next thing you know you’ve spent 20 bucks and your kids are eating a greasy supper out of a paper bag in the back seat.
Well, what if you had a backup plan? What if, as soon as you thought “What do I have at home?” You could instantly rattle off a list of meals you have all of the ingredients for, gathered in one place and ready.
“Well, I could make Taco Soup, or Country Casserole, or Skillet Lasagna, or….”
And that is where the bag meal comes in!
What are bag meals?
Bag meals are bags you can grab and know you have all of the ingredients, including the recipe, to make a meal.
Why Are Bag Meals Amazing?
No more wondering what you have that you can make for a quick supper. If you have bag meals in your pantry, supper is taken care of and you can drive home with confidence, knowing that you don’t have to stop at the grocery store on the way to pick up just on more thing.
What Can Bag Meals Do?
- Save Money – no more emergency drive through runs!
- Provide a nutritious and filling meal – Even a boxed mix that you prepare beats fast food.
- Bring your family closer – every family meal does this, so have them more often!
- Be an amazing blessing – No power? You still have meals you can prepare that don’t require refrigeration or freezer.
- Act as great insurance – We all hit bumpy spots where money is tighter than usual. If you build up bag meals you can potentially go a few weeks without having to buy groceries.
- Help others – Know someone going through a rough time? Hand them a bag meal and you’ve just give them a supper with their families.
How do I make bag meals?
I’m sharing several of my bag meal recipes with you but the best thing you can do is take some of your family’s favorite meals now and convert them to shelf stable recipes. In fact, chances are that some of your favorite meals are already shelf stable. Think spaghetti sauce and pasta, convenience meals like Hamburger Helper, beef Rice a Roni, etc.
Ideas to help you get started with converting recipes to shelf stable ingredients:
- Fresh chicken = canned chicken (I get this on sale at Big Lots when they have an extra 20% off your entire purchase sale, or buy at Sam’s Club).
- Fresh or frozen veggies = canned veggies
- Grated cheese = canned cheese sauce (Your favorite variety. I often just use Campbell’s Cheddar Soup)
- Ground beef – dehydrated ground beef, freeze dried ground beef, or substitute a can of rinsed black beans in it’s place (I alternate between the three of these).
- Fresh Onions – Dried Minced Onion or onion powder (get at Dollar Tree, spice section at Grocery, etc)
Another option is to open this up to making partial bag meals.
Those are meals that have some ingredients in the freezer. I try not to rely on ingredients in the fridge or fresh because that severely limits the life of my bag meals. Ingredients in the freezer, however, give me plenty of time.
Things you might want to keep in the freezer for your bag meals are:
- ground beef (preferably pre cooked)
- shredded cheese, etc.
**What I do if setting these aside for a bag meal is put them in a bag and write “Bag meal, do not use” on it. That way I know it is there when I need it and I haven’t accidentally used it all up without realizing.
Do I put in ALL the ingredients?
That is up to you. I buy my spices and seasonings in bulk so I generally know I always have those on hand. If I have extra time, though, I may go ahead and measure those out and place them in a zipper seal bag to include with the other ingredients. This makes my life even easier because it’s just a matter of opening cans and stirring ingredients together with no measuring needed.
Take a list of your family’s favorite recipes that have been converted to bag meals. Type up and print out the recipes* and then make a shopping list after you see what you already have on hand. Gather all of the ingredients in one place and get to bagging!
*It is important to print out the recipes and place them in the bags on the off chance that you may not be the one cooking them.
I like to use the 2 gallon zipper seal bags because they are plenty big enough to hold all of my ingredients with no squeezing or shuffling needed to get them all in there. Once I use the bag meal, I put that bag back to re-use next time I make them up again, so you really only have to buy these once.
How many bag meals do I make at a time?
That depends on you but I like to make two or three of each recipe until I end up with about ten bag meals. That is about two weeks worth of meals that I know I have on hand whenever the need arises.
Where do I store bag meals?
The beauty of these is that you don’t have to store them in your pantry, which would take up a great deal of space. I keep mine in a storage bin in a closet. You can do that or even think of non traditional places. What about an under the bed storage box and tuck them under your bed? That linen closet you hardly ever use, the awkwardly placed cabinet high up over the refrigerator, etc.
It’s that simple.
All it takes is some thinking, a few notes, and some gathering and you never have to wonder if you have anything on hand for supper on those crazy busy evenings. Once I start using my meals, I put the empty bags with the recipe copy back in the bin and when they get down to about 3, I know it is time to make up more bag meals again.
So how do you avoid those desperate drive through trips? Have a back up plan.
Bag meals are great for every day meal planning and busy day backup meals.
“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”