So far, our focus for getting prepared has been on preparing to live without electricity or contact with the outside world for 30 days. This most likely would only occur if there were a major storm or other natural disaster, since most power outages are only for a few days. But, there are a lot of reasons to plan ahead that do not involve any type of disaster. Life inevitably throws us curves, and we need to be ready to catch!
Over this past month, my church family has had a run on deaths. Just last weekend, we had two funerals in one weekend. This type of life curve can be a source of unplanned for stress, or we can use it as another opportunity to joyfully serve. In my case, both deaths occurred just before Christmas, and the funerals were planned several days after Christmas. With this in mind, as well as the possibility of two more funerals in the next several weeks, I doubled what I made for our Christmas dinner. I made two jello salads. I made an extra pizza and put it in the freezer. I put some leftovers in a casserole dish and put it in the freezer. (This served two functions as it made room in the fridge for holiday food.) I made two green bean casseroles and froze one. When the funerals came around, I simply took the food out of the freezer the morning of and joyfully and easily delivered them to the church.
It doesn’t take a death to have an opportunity to serve. Do you have neighbors? Family? At one time or another, they will need your help. They may have a death in their family, or an illness, or a new baby. If you always have a casserole and cake in the freezer, or a batch of chili canned up, you will be ready at a moment’s notice to deliver comfort to a friend.
Three Ways to Prepare Meals in Advance
• Make freezer meals. This simply involves making up some casseroles, putting them in foil freezer pans (unless you have an excess supply of baking dishes), and using them as needed. Since the family is shrinking, I can now put one 9×13 casserole in 2 – TWO – 9×9 casserole dishes – two meals!! There are no leftovers, but that’s okay. There’s nothing left to spoil in the fridge! One resource I have found helpful as I have searched for appropriate recipes is Joyful Mama’s Kitchen.
• Use home canners to preserve prepared meals. This is more involved as it requires equipment. But, the peace of mind that comes with being prepared is well worth the investment. Some meals that I can are chili, all kinds of soups, beans and even meat loaf. I also can a lot of chicken by itself. Then, if I need to whip up a casserole at the last minute, the meat is already cooked.
• Have ingredients ready for simple meals. Take a tuna casserole, for example. If you have tuna, soup, and noodles sitting together on the pantry shelf, it will only take a few minutes to whip up the casserole. Consider putting the ingredients in a freezer bag or box of some kind to make the ingredients more organized. You can do this with several of your favorite recipes that lend themselves to be prepared quickly. Just having ingredients on hand will prevent last minute runs to the store. Having the ingredients stored together as a group will prevent frustrated worrying about what you might have on hand and where it is.
With meals ready to go, I am prepared not only for the needs of others, but for our own, as well. If I get a last minute call to substitute at the local school, I can grab a meal to thaw out before I go. Or, if I find myself away from the house longer than anticipated, I can easily phone home and ask someone to take care of dinner. As it turned out, last night I had a gall bladder attack that landed me in the emergency room. I anticipate (probably without cause – you know how our minds start to drive us crazy!) an outpatient surgery in the next week or so. But, there is nothing for me to do to get ready – I already have five meals in the freezer!
Plan ahead. Life will happen. Are you prepared for it?