The Après-Vacation BFF: Your Freezer

freezer meals for when you get home from vacation

[trip style = food]

Recently, I've made a new friend who welcomes me home from my travels with a green smoothie and a near-ready dinner. She's a little cold, but she's faithful, so our friendship thrives. This new friend is my freezer, and if we coordinate our schedules well, she's a real lifesaver when I need to feed the TS Crew healthy food {and I'm too tired to brave the grocery store}!  

In my early Trip Styling days, I would come home from vacation to an empty fridge. No problemo. A jar of peanut butter would satiate my hunger until I could dash to the market. Now that I have a baby and a toddler, I can’t employ the same laissez-faire technique. So now, the SMARTEST THING I do before I leave on a trip is stock the freezer with healthy dishes, which I can "make" {read: pull out of the freezer and defrost} when I'm so jet-lagged I can't see straight.

The best part about this post-vacation freezer plan is its ease: All I do is make a few extra portions of the meals I’m already consuming before we leave. Bonus: When my freezer is full of good-to-go meals, there’s no temptation to stop for fast food or worry about meal-planning. 

Here are some of my crew’s post-travel freezer favorites:

The Every Meal
CAULI CAKES {pictured at the top}: I love cauli cakes—a veggie take on my friend-who-should-have-her-own-restaurant Buffie's crab cakes—for any meal of the day. It's easy to make a ton of these in advance; plus, they freeze well and defrost quickly. To whip them up, mix cauliflower rice {raw cauliflower pulsed in the food processor}, an egg, mayo, panko, parmesan, a dash of dijon, fresh herbs, and S&P to taste. Once everything is combined, mold them into golf ball-sized portions, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, flatten them a little with your palm, and bake at 350ºF for about 12 mins {until slightly browned on top}. 

breaskfast when you come home from vacation

But first, COFFEE: If you’re a superhuman who can take your coffee straight-up, I salute your minimalism {and wish I could sip the same}. However, if you like something creamy in your cup, try to freeze a little before you hightail it for vacationville! Freezing cream actually works.

SMOOTHIES: Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables such as bananas, pineapple, peaches, blueberries, spinach, or kale, and blend them together to kick-start your post-vacation detox. Your body will thank you.
--> Have you tried our detoxifying jugo verde recipe

OATS: As far as sustenance, oatmeal with berries is a sure bet. Either pre-freeze a batch you’re already making, or throw some whole oats on the stove and add frozen berries. Grab a handful of almonds from your pantry and it's a whole meal.

QUINOA: We're quinoa-obsessed since carby-protein is tasty, good for you, and SUPER versatile. Pre-make it before you leave, then defrost it, fry it up, and add an egg. If you have a sweet tooth, heat it up with butter, maple syrup, and frozen pre-cut banana pieces.

dinner ideas for when you come home from vacation

Lunch or Dinner
LASAGNA: I know, you know, and your mom knows that lasagna is an ideal freezer meal.

SOUP: Soup and bread are sure bet {and one pairing I always keep in my deep-freeze}. Most soups freeze well, and bread defrosts quickly, meaning your hunger pangs will be sorted in seconds.

VEG: 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, and supercharge my diet when I'm done with rich travel meals.

Want more "cool" ideas? Check out my article in The Kitchn: 17 Freezer Meals for When You Come Back from Vacation.

[Photos by @TripStyler]