The 4 Frozen Foods Every Busy Parent Needs On Hand

The 4 Frozen Foods Every Busy Parent Needs On Hand

I truly enjoy cooking for my family. We make 2 big grocery trips twice a month and plan our meals in two-week chunks. Most of the time, we stick to the planned menus, but some days force us to change plans. As I write this, we’ve finally wrapped up the longest month ever in the history of the world, January 2024. With the way January went, I am so grateful for our frozen fallback options. As meetings run late or as sports practices run behind schedule (or boil advisories or sick kids pop up), it pays to have a frozen food stash on hand. Here are my 4 must-have frozen foods that I keep stocked for when I need to throw together a tasty meal that requires limited time and effort.

Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken

I could visit Trader Joe’s just for the Mandarin Orange Chicken. The frozen breaded chicken chunks come with a packet of orange sauce. Since the sauce is separate, I can put chicken pieces aside for my kiddo who prefers no sauce. Throw the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes while the kids are in the tub, heat the sauce on the stove, and you’ve got dinner in under 25 minutes. I serve it with the Trader Joe’s fried rice or a bag of microwave veggie steamers.

Mini Meatballs

My Italian grandmother is probably rolling in her grave for this one, but I keep Italian-style mini meatballs around for emergencies along with a jar of sauce (we prefer the Classico Cabernet Marinara) and some angel hair pasta. No, it’s not the same as my pasta with homemade red gravy, but it’s an easy meal that the kids love in a pinch. Or, I’ll grab a French bread and some provolone on the way home from a long day and throw together meatball subs.

Soup for Sick Days

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a good soup at the ready for the moment the plague descends upon your home. I love freezing Carrabba’s chicken soup and Kosher Kajun’s matzo ball soup, which my friend affectionately calls Jewish penicillin. We just got rid of flu, covid, and strep in our home. Soup (and shrimp scampi, see below) carried us through.


Once my little one got tired of soup while he was sick, he requested shrimp scampi. Okay, hear me out on this one. Yes, I know we live in the seafood capital of the world and have access to fresh shrimp. But, I promise, this is so easy (and delicious) with frozen shrimp available, you just have to try. I buy the peeled and de-veined frozen Louisiana shrimp from Rouses and use this recipe served over linguine.

I let the shrimp thaw in warm water for about 20 minutes while the pasta cooks, and then I cook the shrimp for about 15 minutes. This is a family favorite, and it’s just too easy not to do it. You likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

I love to cook, but on evenings that don’t allow for our typical homemade suppers, these frozen foods make all the difference.

What are your go-to frozen meals that make life easier?

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their two boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education, earned her BSN, and now works as a pediatric emergency nurse. In her free time, Alyson enjoys flipping furniture, writing, dancing, and painting. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.


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