It’s 5:30 pm, you're tired after a long day, and the kids are at their crankiest. You keep saying you will get on top of meal planning but...it hasn’t quite happened yet and you have no energy to think through a balanced healthy meal. As parents ourselves, we have been there too many times!
To be honest, it took us "giving up" on the idea of a cooked-from-scratch meal as being the ONLY acceptable healthy meal to be able to get our dinner-time stress under control.
Before we could even think about how to set ourselves and our families up for success in healthy food choices, we had to get a handle on dinner on the busiest nights of the week. We found that the freezer was our most overlooked appliance when it came to healthy eating! Having convenient healthy choices ready to go from the freezer on our busiest nights has been a game-changer for us. After all, what really matters is THAT we come together at the table and share a healthy meal as a family, and not HOW that meal got there.
5 ways to fill your freezer for easy family meals
Everyone has a lone bag of frozen peas or broccoli in the back of the freezer, but that doesn't really get you anywhere close to a quick complete meal. For ready-to-go plant-based meals packed full of veggie goodness, we always turn to Wholly Veggie. We're already huge fans of their veggie-full burger patties, cauliflower and sweet potato crust pizzas, and Cauliflower bites, and now we're loving their complete Veggie-Full Meals! With 20 grams of protein and 50% of daily fibre, not to mention killer flavours like Coconut Cauliflower, Sweet & Spicy Chickpea and Southwest Broccoli, Wholly Veggie has truly reinvented the frozen meal for busy families.
We are ALSO all in with the Wholly Veggie belief that a better world starts with more veggies at the table. And we love that Wholly Veggie is Canadian and nothing is made from a lab, or synthesized from a protein. Their products are made with just great quality vegetables, simple seasonings and chef-inspired recipes.
Ordering dinner is tempting on busy nights, but let's face it, healthy options for quick delivery can be hard to find. But having restaurant-quality ready-to-eat meals in the freezer is easy! We love that Barakah Eats makes frozen, gourmet, South Asian influenced ready-to-eat meals that can be warmed up in just minutes. This family-owned and operated business based in Surrey, BC provides busy families with ready-to-eat certified halal curries without any preservatives, antibiotics, or artificial colors, and prepares them with grass-fed beef and meats without antibiotics. And their product line also includes vegan and gluten-free options, with spice levels ranging from mild to hot for the whole family to enjoy! A few Barakah Eats highlights include a series of delicious and convenient curries that can be paired with naan or rice, like their "fan favourite" Butter Chicken, their Channa Masala curry prepared with chickpeas & lentils, and their popular Chicken Dum Biryani.
At the end of a long day, we found ourselves dreaming of having a personal chef. Someone who would fill our kitchen with healthy family favourites that we could just pop in the oven. Sigh...well that was only a dream until we found Well Fed. This boutique food studio nestled in the heart of the beautiful North Vancouver mountains granted our wish with meal solutions and inspiration for this time-starved family that still wants to eat well. All Well Fed freezer meals are full of high-quality, whole, preservative-free ingredients, and they’re happy to accommodate special dietary restrictions or food allergies. With what they like to call ‘Lifestyle Eating’ their menu follows the 80/20 rule. The majority of the meals (80%) focus on health: lean protein & nutrient-rich vegetables like the chipotle chicken chilli with black beans & sweet potato or the kids favourite triple cheese mac with butternut squash. The other 20% includes a bit of decadence as part of a well-rounded diet like banana chocolate chip muffins. Each month they highlight seasonal local produce with new creative entrees, and also carry some "favourites" like the baked penne pasta that's on the menu all the time (always a hit with our kids).
We keep our freezer stocked with Well Fed goodness for the busiest of family evenings, and you can too with delivery to your doorstep in Vancouver, Burnaby and the North Shore!
Although we are always scouring Pinterest, cookbooks and magazines looking for different healthy meal ideas, our family has their favourites that they would happily eat every week. We know what they like, but always having it on hand is another matter. We had a major a-ha moment when we figured out that it's the same amount of work to make 4 small lasagnas as it is to make one big one. That means one lasagna and salad for tonight's dinner and 3 for the freezer! Same for baked Mac & Cheese! Meatballs... make two sheet pans full then bake and freeze, and pizza dough recipes are easily doubled and freeze well! Get ahead of the game and always double your recipes for soups and chilis. If you have managed to find the time to make one of these big batch meals, don't miss the chance to gift yourself at least one night off in the future!
Another tip we were given by a very smart mama that makes healthy dinner prep a hundred times easier is to marinate your protein BEFORE putting it in the freezer. We have been saved so many times by teriyaki chicken breast, greek lamb, or chipotle lime beef. Whip up some whole grain rice (our kids make this in the instant pot and it's perfect every time) and a side salad or veggie and voila. Zero to dinner in 30 minutes!
Wholly Veggie believes a better world starts with more veggies at the table. Founded by two friends, Wholly Veggie is a proudly Canadian company that makes tasty, veggie-filled patties, pizzas, snacks, and meals that are soy-free, dairy-free, no added sugar, and non-GMO. Wholly Veggie was born out of a desire to make it easy for anyone to eat more veggies, while also supporting a more sustainable way of feeding the planet. And we love their promise: "Delicious plant-based foods, made with quality ingredients you know and can pronounce". Eat your veggies, feel better, save the planet. It's that simple! Find Wholly Veggie here.
Well Fed is a boutique food studio nestled in the heart of the beautiful North Vancouver mountains that delivers healthy freezer meals to families in Burnaby, Vancouver and across the North Shore. Their intent is to provide meal solutions and inspiration for time-starved families who still want to eat well. Well Fed offers meals to go, an elementary school lunch program, fundraising opportunities and Kids Cooking Camps. Eating well can, and should, taste great. Find Well Fed here.
Wondering what to do with the kids in Metro Vancouver this weekend, or what to make for dinner? You can find it at HealthyFamilyLiving.com! From the Sunshine Coast to the Fraser Valley, we’re the best online resource for busy parents looking for practical tips for healthy, active, sustainable living. For the latest on family events, outdoor adventures, birthday parties, camps & classes and kid-approved recipes, follow us on Facebook and sign-up for our parent-approved e-newsletter!