Do you want to get ahead in your kitchen? Would you like to be prepared if a friend needed a meal? The solution is simple-easy make ahead freezer meals.
I find it easier to make freezer meals for new Moms as well as family and friends when they need meals. It can be difficult for me to get a hot meal to someone and still feed my family as well, especially if we have somewhere to be that evening. Plus, when I take freezer meals, I tend to take more than one. My standard formula is two full meals, plus a breakfast item. New Moms especially tend to enjoy a breakfast item if they have other children to feed. A dozen muffins or a coffee cake can make a special breakfast for someone.
Another reason I love freezer meals, is that I can make them in advance. If I have a stash of several meals tucked away, I can drop one off to a family that needs one in a hurry.
One way to make freezer meals super easy is to prepare two (or three) of whatever you are making for supper that evening. It’s really not much harder to make an extra lasagna to put in the freezer if you are already making one.
Some of the ideas below were shared by some of my blogging friends. I would like to especially thank Micah Klug from Home Faith Family and Katie McGowen from My Joy in Chaos for the many recipes they shared. Katie has a whole series on freezer meal prep that is fabulous. If you would like to check it out, you can find the first one here.
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Some great freezer breakfasts
Having a few breakfast items on hand in the freezer can make those busy mornings so much easier. Muffins, banana or pumpkin bread, granola bars, pancakes, and waffles are just a few of the items that are easy to freeze. Here are several recipes to get you started with some easy make ahead freezer breakfasts.
Micah’s Banana Bread-This banana bread looks so good and is so easy to make. It’s the perfect way to use up a bunch of of bananas that are about to go bad. (Tip: If you don’t have time to make the banana bread now, you can freeze those bananas until you are ready. Just be sure to peel them before freezing.)
Muffin Mix-Mix up a double (or triple) batch of this muffin mix and go ahead and make the muffins. You can divide the batter into several bowls and make different kinds of muffins (blueberry, chocolate chip, apple cinnamon, etc.) Once cooked and cooled, freeze the muffins.
Oatmeal Breakfast Bars-This recipe makes a bunch of breakfast bars and they freeze beautifully. Depending on how much your family eats for breakfast, you might can get three or four meals out of one batch of these easy bars.
Both recipes in this post are easy to freeze and cook on a busy morning. One is a biscuit type cinnamon roll and the other is a jam-filled drop danish. Neither recipe even has to be thawed before baking!
Easy make ahead freezer meals that work for lunch or dinner
There are lots of recipes on the internet for freezer dinners, some good, some not-so-good. These recipes have all been tested either by me, or one of my blogging buddies so you can be sure, they taste great after being frozen and then thawed.
Full meals you can freeze
This Hamburger Potato Casserole makes a great freezer meal. It’s easy to prep several to store in the freezer and everyone seems to enjoy it. I often take this meal to others since it is kid-friendly and really a complete meal-in-one. (I usually add a green veggie to go with it though!)
These Chicken Burrito Bowls from Happy Money Saver are delicious. (This is the website from my favorite freezer cookbook author. See below.) These are great to have on hand if you have a hungry teenage boy that needs a second supper. If you freeze these in individual portions, you (or your hungry teenage son) can take out as many you need and heat them up quickly.
Micah’s recipe for The Best Jambalaya looks so good. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m adding it to my meal plan this week. I plan to make a double batch so we can eat it for supper one night and I’ll have a freezer meal for later.
Another meal I like to make ahead and freeze is any kind of soup or stew. Most freeze easily. Chili also freezes well so make a double batch anytime you make it. My taco soup is always a hit so I double the recipe and freeze half for later for an easy meal on a busy night.
Meal prep ideas you can freeze
We enjoy pizza around here quite a bit and this freezer-friendly pizza sauce looks amazing and super easy. Katie shows you how to make up a big batch so you are ready for pizza night. When you make it yourself you can control the ingredients. And while there is nothing wrong with using store-bought pizza sauce, it usually contains more sugar than I think is necessary.
Another meal item I like to prep ahead and keep in the freezer is cooked chicken cubes. I will cube two or three family packs of chicken breasts, season them a couple of ways (buffalo, taco, lemon pepper, cajun, etc.) and bake them in the oven (in separate pans of course). Once cool, I freeze in ziplock bags. These cubes are great to have on hand to top a salad or to send in the kids lunches. You could do this with grilled chicken too.
I also love to season a pork loin and cook it in the slow cooker. Shred it for BBQ one night, use it on nachos or pizza for a second night, and freeze the rest for another night or two. My family of 5 can get 3 or 4 meals from one pork loin. You can find my recipe in my resource library if you’re a subscriber. (If not you can subscribe below.) This recipe is part of the Frugal Meal Plan-Winter.
Freezer Meal Cookbooks
I also have a few favorite freezer cookbooks that have some very good recipes. My favorite is Seriously Good Freezer Meals by Karrie Truman. Even though it was just published this year, it has quickly become my go-to for new freezer meals. She explains how to cook and freeze pasta meals so they aren’t mushy. (And shares a bunch of delicious pasta freezer meals.)
She also has a bunch of hints on how to freeze the meals once prepared so they don’t get the dreaded freezer burn. And in every recipe she explains not only how to freeze the dish, but also how to make it if you want to eat it that night. This makes it super easy to double a recipe and have one for supper and one for later.
A few of my favorite recipes from her cookbook are Tempting Taco Pasta Shell Casserole, Bacon Carbonara Pasta Pie, and Almond Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. But I also want to try her Layered Chocolate Mousse Cake, the California Breakfast Casserole, and her Crescent Chicken Divine. I love that she includes a “breakfast” section as well as an “appetizers & snacks” section in her book.
Karrie also has freezer meal plans where you prepare 7, 30, or even 50 freezer meals in one day! Plus, I love that there are no cans of cream soup in sight! (See my recipe for Green Bean Casserole for more info on why I dislike cream soups.)
Another favorite cookbook of mine is a much older book called Lunch is Ready by Deanna Buxton. There are many easy make ahead freezer meals in this book. While the title says these are lunch recipes (and they would make great lunches to have in the freezer to pack for school) the recipes are also great for supper.
There are quite a few burger recipes, other sandwich fillings (think BBQ and sloppy joes), and soups and stews. These recipes are grouped by how you prepare them-slow cooker, oven, stove-top, or just assemble and freeze. I have made many of these recipes and most are quick and easy to prepare.
A few of my favorites include BBQ Franks (great when you forget to buy hot dog buns), Turkey and Wild Rice Soup, and Slow Cooked Chicken Fajitas.
A few helpful hints on taking freezer meals to others:
Sometimes, you want to take a meal to a friend or to a Mom that has just had a new baby. Make ahead freezer meals are perfect for that. I’ve even heard of freezer meal parties for new Moms where everyone brings a dish to stock the Mom’s freezer! Here are a couple tips to help you if you are taking a freezer meal to others.
- Don’t take anything that has too many steps to prepare. Usually a frozen casserole (that can be thawed and heated) and a can or bag of veggies is all you need. I love the frozen, bagged veggies that can be cooked in the microwave. Heat and eat is the way to go.
- Always check with the family to see if there are any allergies or anything they just won’t eat. You don’t want to take Buffalo Chicken to someone only to find out they don’t eat anything spicy.
- Stay away from any meals that are too gourmet unless you know the family well and know that they will eat it, especially if they have children. You’re not really helping the family out if Mom or Dad still has to make a separate meal for the kids.
- If the family has a slow cooker, there are many recipes on the web for slow cooker dump recipes. Most would be easy to put on in the morning so dinner is ready that evening. Just be sure the family actually has a slow cooker and uses it regularly.
- Before taking a stack of freezer meals to a family, be sure to call ahead and make sure they have enough room in their freezer to store them. Like I said above, when I take a meal to friends, I usually take several, but I always call ahead to be sure they are prepared for them.
Freezer cooking doesn’t have to take all day
As you can see, freezer cooking doesn’t have to be difficult. You also don’t have to spend a whole day preparing foods for the freezer. Doubling or tripling a favorite recipe, and serving one meal that night and freezing another is a great way to get a few extra meals stashed in the freezer. Even freezing leftovers in single serving portions helps you get ahead in the kitchen and saves food from going in the trash. My boys love to go “shopping” in the freezer for single serve meals that they can take for lunch.
Do you have a favorite freezer meal you like to make? If so, I would love to know what that meal is.