Freezer Friendly

17 Freezer Meals for When You Come Back from Vacation — Freezer Recipes from The Kitchn

Before you go on vacation, what do you do? If you are like me, you probably clean out your fridge, empty your trash cans, and try to straighten up a little bit. Coming home to spoiled milk and smelly garbage is no fun! Now that I'm a mom, I add one more thing to my pre-vacation to-do list: I always (always!) stock the freezer. It takes a little forethought and planning, but it's the very best gift I give myself before vacation.

From single-serve oatmeal to spinach-feta wraps, here are some of my family's post-travel freezer favorites (without any mention of frozen waffles).

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​The Best Gift to Give Yourself Before Vacation — Family Vacation

(Image credit: duet postscriptum/Stocksy)

Coming home from vacation can be rough: Not only are you not on vacation anymore, as evinced by the suitcases stuffed to the max with dirty laundry and the fact that your bedroom window probably doesn't have a postcard-like view of white sand beaches or snow-capped mountains, but there is also regular life waiting for you. You have to deal with that inbox overflowing with emails and — here's the real rub — you have to feed yourself! Through that pina colada-induced brain fog, you might (vaguely) recollect something known as meal planning.

When I used to come home from vacation to an empty fridge, I dealt with this return to reality with a jar of peanut butter and a bag of stale pretzels. They would satiate my hunger until I could dash to the grocery store.

Now that I have a baby and a toddler, I can't employ the same laissez-faire technique. (Sadly, I don't have a grocery genie to make food magically appear in my fridge when I arrive home.) As a mom, I've come to rely on a single strategy to ease the transition back to real life. It takes a little bit of planning ahead, but it's definitely worth it.

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How To Make Cheese Gougères — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Let me walk you through the experience of eating a fresh gougère. It's surprisingly light as you pick it up — almost insubstantial — and still hot from the oven. The crispy shell crunches as you pull it open, releasing a puff of savory steam. Then you hit the middle: soft, eggy, and indecently cheesy. Two bites and it's gone. You're going to want to make a batch of these soon — trust me.

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Recipe: One Bowl Vanilla Cake: Ice Cream Cake — Recipes from The Kitchn

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

My family loves ice cream cake, so when dreaming up ways to use our one-bowl vanilla cake, an ice cream dream cake was a must. This one combines soft vanilla cake with tart raspberry sorbet and is topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream. This ice cream cake is the perfect end to a backyard barbecue or a spring or summer brunch.

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How To Make a One-Bowl Vanilla Cake — Baking Lessons from The Kitchn

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Sometimes you need a cake — like, now — and getting out a stand mixer and dirtying a few bowls isn't ideal. It's often in these situations we lean on cake mixes to get a cake in the oven. Inspired by the virtues of cake mix (it is easy and reliable, after all) we set out to create an everyday vanilla cake — something sweet but sturdy and resilient that we could quickly turn into everything from an everyday coffee cake to cupcakes to a giant ice cream cake sandwich.

Honestly, this cake can come together faster than your oven will preheat. So go set it to 350°F and then come back here to learn how to make this universal cake. It can be as simple or as stunning as you choose, and it will bake up at least a dozen different ways — all of them buttery, fragrant, and delicious.

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Recipe: Flaky Garlic Bread Pinwheels — Quick and Easy Appetizers

(Image credit: Michael Wiltbank)

I am warning you now that you may inhale these innocent-looking roll-ups before your friends even ring the doorbell. I had to pull myself away from the baking sheet and leave the kitchen entirely to escape the buttery, garlicky aroma. These roll-ups wouldn't make it to their serving platter if I lingered too long.

This is the kind of homemade appetizer that is going to win you accolades. Make them once and friends will begin to ask you for those "flaky, garlicky things" each time they drop by; it's already happening to me! That's not necessarily a bad thing because they're something you can keep stocked in the freezer to bake off at a moment's notice. They'll bake in just the amount of time it takes to pop open a bottle of wine and pour everyone a glass, ensuring your happy hour is effortless.

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