Time crunched parents are often overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of new back-to-school routines this time of year, but help may be as close as their freezers. Cheri Sicard, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Easy Freezer Meals says this common kitchen appliance can take the stress out of lunchtime preparation as well as help send families off with a hearty, hot breakfast every morning by getting the work done in advance.

Preparing homemade heat-and-eat morning fare insures families will never miss the most important meal of the day again. Pancakes, French toast, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, and burritos all freeze well. Sicard’s favorite healthy freezer friendly breakfast is steel cut oatmeal which contains more healthy fiber.

Tasty and Healthy Lunch Fare

The freezer can also help fill lunch boxes with tasty, healthful fare. Here are some lunchtime tips:

Use the assembly line method to prepare a week’s worth of sandwiches. Lay out slices of bread, spread with butter, mustard, or other spreads. (Freezing the bread first makes spreading even easier.) Go down the line and add meats and cheeses, finish with top slice of bread, wrap and freeze (add delicate veggies like lettuce and tomato after removing from freezer). Packed frozen in the morning, the sandwiches will be thawed by lunchtime.

Soups make healthy lunches. Keep individual portions in the freezer. Heat on stovetop or microwave in morning, pack in a Thermos, and enjoy hot soup at lunch.

The Thermos can also pack all kinds of other outside-the-box lunches like stir fry and pastas. Take from the freezer in the morning, heat and pack.

Savory tarts, pies, quiches and frittatas freeze beautifully and can often be served at room temperature making for perfect lunchtime fare.

Freeze drinks like juices to pack in lunchboxes. Not only will this help foods stay chilled, the kids will enjoy a refreshing slushy beverage with their midday meal.

Cheri Sicard was the creator, editor, and publisher of FabulousFoods.com, now owned by SheKnows.com. She has taught cooking classes for Williams-Sonoma and is the author of The Low Carb Restaurant Guide and Everyday American, and has written for The Boston Herald, Magellan, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, and The Armchair Reader, as well as TheFamilyCorner.com, iChef.com, ChefMom.com, and GardenGuides.com.