Last week, Mr. Mom’s Kitchen wondered who kidnapped his wife; I had spiraled into a carpool-induced psychosis.

It started when the reality of my weekday afternoons began to sink in. All three of my kids have to be at three places in three corners of the city (some not easily accessed by bus) all at the same time.

It led to dark thoughts….and under-the-breath cursing…

–over the distant location of the soccer field
–the amount of construction blocking intersections
–the madness of starting sports practices when we usually start dinner
–the Google buses crowding the streets

And then this ugly thought tripped across my consciousness

At least a year from now I’ll only have two kids at home.

I feel a little sick just thinking about it, since

1) What kind of mother thinks that?

and

2) The truth is, a year from now, I’m going to be wishing I were driving my oldest across town instead of across the country to a freshman dorm.

That terrible thought snapped me back to my senses. I emerged from the carpool trenches and regained perspective. Time in the car is time with my kids, after all, even if it’s in ugly traffic, crowded with Google buses, to far off places, at dinnertime.

The tricky part, is the last bit: dinner. Coming home after seven with three hungry kids puts me in a pickle. And so, freezer meals like this Meaty Mushroom Marinara, are a lifesaver. The recipe makes enough for two or maybe three dinners. One for tonight, and the rest to tuck in the freezer when you need it.Roasted Cauliflower and Meaty Mushroom Marinara

I’ve taken to serving this sauce over vegetables instead of pasta (or a combination of the two). I’ll roast cauliflower or a whole mess of eggplant and peppers tossed with olive oil and salt at 450 degrees until just tender. Spoon the sauce over and finish with grated Parmesan. It’s tasty enough that you may even forget, just for a little while, all about the carpool.

This is part of the Recipe Redux, a group of like-minded nutrition writers and registered dietitians who publish a monthly themed post. This month it’s all about freezer meals, so below you’ll find a whole line-up of inspiration for stocking your freezer. 

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Meaty Mushroom Marinara Sauce

This flavorful sauce gets it's meatiness, in part, from ground beef, but also from an equal amount of fresh mushrooms. To save time, chop the mushrooms in a food processor or buy pre-sliced ones. Whatever sauce you don't use, pack into a freezer-friendly container where it will keep for several months.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion , chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic , thinly sliced
  • 3/4 pound white or cremini muchrooms , sliced or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3/4 pound ground beef or turkey
  • Two 28-ounce cans (or 26-ounce boxes) diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you want a kick)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • Cooked pasta or vegetables (or a combination) for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and saute until transluscent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and mushrooms, turn the heat to medium-high, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes until the mushrooms begin to soften and shrink a bit.
  3. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up in the pan, until it is no longer pink.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, and red pepper flakes, stir, and adjust the heat so that the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes are cooked.
  5. Add the salt, several cracks of black pepper, and the basil. Stir well, taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Serve over pasta or vegetables.

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