Today I’m sharing my favorite Freezer Friendly Meals and Tips ranging from dinner to sauces to sides and even desserts. Along with those recipes, you’ll find some tried and true tips and tricks for the freezer game.
Whether it’s the busy holiday season fast approaching, a new baby or a sick friend, freezer meals are always our friends. I don’t know how many times I’ve been saved, along with dinner, thanks to something I threw in the freezer. I’m not a “let’s cook all day to stock the freezer” kind of gal. With my planning tendencies you would think I would like to go that route but you know, kids. The way I roll is more the “let’s double this spaghetti sauce and freeze a ton of it” style. Cook once, eat twice (or three or four times depending on how many people are in your family and how much you make).
No matter which category you fit into, you will find lots of freezer meal ideas and tips in this post that should help make your life a little easier.
This Sicilian Spaghetti Sauce is probably the number one thing I freeze. It doesn’t take any extra work to double the recipe (except for chopping more onion and garlic) so it’s kind of a no brainer for the freezer. The recipe makes a lot on its own so depending on how many people will be eating it, you may not even need to double it to have some leftover to freeze. And it tastes just as good after thawing it. Then for dinner all you have to do is boil some pasta. And maybe throw together a quick salad.
Another sauce that freezes well is pesto. I don’t have a traditional pesto recipe on the blog, but we love this pistachio version or this broccoli one. They both freeze well. I recommend just freezing the sauce then making the pasta fresh when you are ready to eat it. Or skipping the pasta all together and dolloping it on some grilled chicken which you can cook ahead of time and freeze too (keep reading for tips on that).
We have a large freezer in our garage so I really love these containers for freezing sauces or for homemade ice cream. They are dishwasher safe and I’ve never had a problem with freezer burn. If you have limited freezer space though, I have another great option for you. Let the sauce cool completely then ladle your desired portion into a freezer bag. Make sure all the air is removed then zip it shut. Lay it flat and smoosh it around so it’s as flat as possible then place in the freezer. This method takes up way less space and you can stack things on top.
While we’re on the topic of sauces, baked pastas are also a freezer meal hit. Chicken Tetrazzini and this 5 Cheese Pasta Bake would both be great options. I’m not a big fan of leftovers so sometimes when I make a big dish like this, I divide it into two 8×8 pans instead of a 9×13 then bake one and freeze the other. I always use foil pans for freezing then wrap them completely several times with foil. And always make sure to label them. I just write on the foil with a sharpie.
I eat a lot of grilled chicken for lunch so I often cook a couple extra chicken breasts along with dinner to freeze for future lunches. After they are cooked, lay them on a sheet pan and flash freeze them. This means, place the sheet pan in the freeze for a couple hours until frozen through. Then remove them from the sheet pan and place them in a labeled freezer bag. Then you can grab out just however many you need. If you just throw them in the bag after they are cooked, they would freeze together and it would be hard to just grab one or two. If you’ll be using the whole amount at once, you could skip the flash freezing step and put them right in the bag.
This isn’t quite a freezer meal in the sense that it won’t be cooked but it’s a time saver and something that I find helpful so I thought I would share. When chicken is on sale, I stock up. When I get home from the grocery store, some of the packages go right to the freezer for future meals. For the other packages, I whip up a quick marinade or two to premarinade them. I know that’s not a word, ok. The chicken goes in a freezer bag then the marinade is poured over it then into the freezer it goes. Then the night before you want to eat it, grab it out and thaw it in the refrigerator. It marinates as it thaws and it’s one less step you have to do that day.
I don’t just prep for breakfasts my friends. Mornings are hectic but I still try to make them warm, filling breakfast to keep them full until lunch. I usually workout in the morning before they wake up so that cuts into my time to actually make something from scratch so instead I try to have things ready in the freezer. Or make something the night before or quickly scramble some eggs or throw a box of cereal and a container of yogurt at them. It all depends on how the morning goes my friends.
Anyway, muffins, these delicious turkey sausage patties, pancakes and smoothie packs are all great freezable options for busy mornings. Wrap the muffins or pancakes lightly in a paper towel and microwave in 30 second increments until they are warmed through. The texture isn’t quite the same after they’ve been frozen but they are still pretty dang good and the kids can’t tell the difference.
I have to say, my other top favorite thing to double and freeze is pizza dough. I much prefer homemade pizza dough to store bought but it takes some time and planning to pull off which sometimes isn’t in the cards on busy nights. We often have pizza night on Sundays so I always double the recipe, rise the dough and divide it into individual pizza portions. The dough not being used that day is formed into a ball and placed into a freezer safe bag. The day you want to use it, grab it out a few hours before you’re ready to cook and let it that on the countertop.
Meatballs freeze really well either cooked or uncooked depending on how you plan to use them. If they are simply leftover, place them in a freezer safe container then freeze for future use. I do that often with this recipe. Or if you like to cook them in the sauce, mix the meatball, roll them and flash freeze them on a baking sheet. Then proceed with the recipe from frozen when you are ready to use them.
Another great little trick is freezing rice. Double the amount next time then put the leftovers in a freezer safe bag and freeze for future use. When you are ready to eat it, simply dump it into a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon of water and cook in 30 second increments until hot. I really like doing this with brown rice since it takes longer to cook and I sometimes forget to get it started in time.
I love me some potstickers. Like, I could eat 20 for dinner and be happy. Nothing else. Just potstickers. This homemade version is to die for good but they take a lot of work so when I make them I either double the recipe or freeze half of the normal recipe for future use. Yes, it takes extra time to make them then but it will save you time in the future. Plus, your hands are already goopy and gross so might as well make it count. To freeze these you should also use the flash freeze method. Place formed, but not cooked, potstickers on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Then dump them all into a labeled freezer bag and freeze away. Then cook them just as you would from fresh, just adding a few more minutes during the steaming process.
Soups and Chili
Another favorite freezer meal is soup or chili. They always seem to freeze like a dream and taste just as good thawed from the freezer as they did fresh. Chili is always my go to in this category. Once again, double and freeze or freeze half. How many times do you think I can type freeze during this post? Shall I count? Chicken Stock and Black Bean Soup are some other great freezer options.
Well, I covered breakfast, lunch and dinner options so I figured it would just be rude to leave out dessert. Freezing cookie dough is the best thing you will do in life. Well, maybe not the best but it’s pretty high up there. I tell you all about how to do it here. It’s also awesome for giving at Christmas instead of already baked cookies.
I hope this post inspired you to do some freezer cooking and prep of your own as well as provide some new freezer meal ideas and tips to make your life easier.