Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is Your Get out of Jail Free Card?

I realize it can be defeating to refer to dinner as 'jail', but there are some nights where the 'D' word can feel a little like it. You know those nights where maybe your train was delayed due to Occupy Oakland protestors raiding a BART station, or you realize that you left the chicken for that night's dinner in the fridge at work, or you look at your weekly menu and say to yourself, "Not gonna happen. No way. Do not pass go, do not collect $200."

In our house, my husband and I refer to the items we keep stashed in the freezer on nights like these as our "Get Out of Jail Free" cards. While these delights are great to lean on in a pinch, we do try to serve them with some kind of vegetable, which we jokingly refer to as "The Obligatory C.P.S. Vegetable."

Below is a list of our favorite Get Out of Jail Free dinners that we keep in the Community Chest... or what most would call the freezer.

I realize our freezer dinners aren't that healthy, so no need to get all organi-sanctimonious on me. Let's leave that for the unhappy, judgmental people.

Cheese Tortellini: I buy these in bulk from Costco and keep them in the freezer for nights described above. Tossed with butter and parmesan (maybe some CPS-worthy frozen peas thrown in) and dinner is served.

Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausages (with Andouille for me): While *I* am not a fan of fruit mixed with meat, my whole family loves those sausages. So I always keep a package of chicken apple and andouille sausages in the freezer. Defrosted and grilled, maybe served alongside some good bread and whatever vegetable is in the fridge makes all four of us happy.

Frozen Pizza: My kids know they hit the lottery when I am out for the night and my husband pulls out a Trader Joe's frozen pizza. I secretly love the squishy texture. However, I don't want to know why it's squishy.

Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken: I am not even sure this is really chicken, so we reserve these for special use and it violates my "No sweet meat" rule, so I eat a few pieces without much sauce. Serve this with frozen brown rice (again Trader Joe's) and you are golden.

Trader Joe's Fish Sticks: I am not going to lie, I kind of like these. What can I say? I am both ashamed and oddly thrilled to be showing you this. My husband was particularly proud one night when he served these with a side baby carrots. 


  1. My get out of jail free dinner is either going out (sushi or burritos, that's what you get in Oakland!) or organic, nitrate free hot dogs. In that case, I count the ketchup as a veggie:)


  2. Ah! I forgot hot dogs! And yes, going out is always an option. We are huge fans of La Corneta in SF and Boulevard Cafe in Daly City (not to be confused with fancy pants Boulevard in downtown SF).

  3. At our house it's a bag of dried tortellini from Trader Joe's. It's the only thing I KNOW the kids will devour. (They'll eat other things, but not consistently.)

  4. LOL...your fast dinners are nearly identical to mine! But you HAVE to try the bacon pineapple Aidell's...we can't seem to get enough of it and like it better than the chicken/apple.