Stash quick-prep meal ingredients in the freezer before you travel

L just solved a problem I seem to face after every family trip: the post-trip meal.

I hate coming home from a trip and having nothing in the fridge for dinner that night. The kids are cranky from traveling all day, we need to unpack, and often get ready for school/work the next day. And, I don't really want to stop at a local fast-food restaurant on the way home.

Since I often need to go to the supermarket before a long trip to get snacks, etc., I now pick up a bag of frozen ravioli, tomato sauce, frozen veggies and a loaf of italian bread. The bread goes in the freezer, with the veggies, and ravioli and it's an easy and quick meal for the evening when we arrive home.

Another good item to have in your pantry — a box of shelf-stable milk (or soy/rice milk) for cereal the next morning. OR…an unopened carton of ultra-pasteurized milk in the fridge. Ultra-pasteurization pushes  "best used by" dates several weeks into the future.

What supplies do you keep on hand to make post-travel "reentry" easier for your family?

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Thanksgiving


  1. Mike says

    Best to put the shelf-stable milk/soymilk in the fridge before you leave. No one wants to drink room temperature milk.

  2. Debi says

    I’m a huge fan of the ultra-pasturized milk. To me, it’s worth the extra expense because we tend to be a little unpredictable on our milk usage. I figure we at worst break even in cost, comparing the amount of rotten cheap milk I pour out versus the fact we finish every pricy, ultra-pasteurized carton.

  3. says

    We usually have a stash of frozen meals in the freezer before we go away.

    One extra tip though – make sure the freezer door is shut properly before you go. It is very sad to return to a defrosted freezer and stinky house :(

  4. says

    I consider the day return home still part of the vacation, therefore, eating out or take out is perfectly acceptable. When I return from airport or a long car trip, the last thing I want to do is cook!

  5. says

    Soup and a quick batch of homemade cornbread. Easy, fast, not too heavy, but tasty (especially anytime between Fall and Spring).

  6. says

    Right there with the soup and bread idea. Followed by crepes, some yogurt, and some fruit. This is the way I saw the French do it upon returning from weekends away in the country. From hungry to stuffed in about 20 minutes!

  7. Cheryl says

    If a neighbor or relative has a key to keep plants watered, etc., I ask them to put a carton of milk in the frig and turn on the air conditioning if it is summer.
    If you can arrange for someone to have the driveway shoveled out in the winter, it’s a real relief to come home to a cleared driveway!!

  8. Alana says

    We just put a partially used gallon of milk in the freezer for when we get back. It freezes just fine as long as there is a little extra room in the jug for it to expand.

  9. Daffodil says

    Not to mention it’s a dead giveaway to thieves that you’re out of town when yours is the only driveway on the block without footsteps or tire tracks. If you can’t find someone to clear the snow, at least find someone who can drive on it and stomp on it for you!

  10. says

    I am a fan of a few frozen meals that work out okay. Bertoli is MY favorite, the kids love DiGiorno w/ breadsticks. I buy Yoohoo (no, not the healthiest, but a fun ‘treat’ after a long day) or get some of the UHT milk cartons like others mentioned…they also sell chocolate milk which can mask the “boxed milk” flavor. Although…I love it, lol…it reminds me of the little coffee creamers. :)

  11. says

    This is a great idea. Before I leave on vacation, I also put in an order for groceries to be delivered the day after we get back. This works well especially if we have to go to work/school the next day. I don’t have to worry about rushing to the store to fill the fridge when we get back.