Here are some of my favorite freezer meals! These dinners are perfect for doubling (or tripling) and filling the freezer with delicious dinners you just need to reheat, add the finishing touches to, and serve.
I’m writing this from deep in the coronavirus outbreak when getting the store is difficult or impossible and who knows what is going to be there on the shelves. Whether you are looking for pantry meals or want to stock up for the future since you just cooked up a big pot of beans (see my chili or black bean soup below), this is a good time to make the best use of the resources we have available to us.
One of the best things you can do to be prepared for dinner is to make extra of meals which store well. This is especially good when we are talking about recipes which take some time to cook! If you are going to spend two-three hours making meatballs, double the recipe (or triple, or more!) and now you’ll have meatballs to enjoy for other dinners without all the work.
Not only are freezer meals frugal of your time, but of your money as well. Making extra of a meal is an excellent way to use the resources you have on hand, take advantage of sales, and keep stocked up for the future.
When choosing recipes to freeze it is import to know what freezes well and what does not. Here are a few guidelines and what dinner items do and not do well in the freezer. This is not an exhaustive list, but info on broad categories. And note that what manufactures flash freeze can be quite different from what we can freeze successfully at home!
- Meats – Most meat dishes can be frozen and reheated without any issues.
- Seafood – Unlike meat, most seafood does not reheat well and gets and dry and tough. (Something like Cod Croquettes is an exception.)
- Potatoes – Stay away from freezing potato soup or potato gratins since the texture is not going to be great on thawing. Raw potatoes (and fried potatoes) do well for boiling or frying.
- Beans – Bean soups and other dishes are great freezer meals!
- Tomato Sauces/Herb Sauces – Recipes with either tomato or herb sauces do great in the freezer.
- Pasta – Go with undercooked pasta. That way you can heat it through for your next meal without overcooking.
- Cream Sauces – If you thaw and reheat carefully, they can work, but I don’t recommend it. For recipes that use cream it’s best to add that when reheating so you don’t have to worry about them separating or becoming grainy.
Make these short ribs right to point where you take the tender meat out of the oven. Let a portion cool, then package up. Once you have thawed and reheated dinner, thicken the sauce if needed and add the fresh herbs.
Cook up a double batch and set aside half to cool just before you add the cream and bourbon! Add those in and make the garnishes when you are ready to serve it again.
Make the ragu and serve some with your pasta or polenta for dinner while the rest cools in the pot. Package up dinner sized servings of sauce in freezer bags and lay them flat. (This will allow the sauce to thaw fast!) Heat and serve.
As with the ragu, this freezer meal is best done in a bag and laid flat to chill. Thaw, simmer, adjust the seasoning, and chop up all the toppings you love.
Double up the recipe and let this stew simmer all day in your slow cooker! There are freezer directions in the recipe, but basically hold off on the fresh herbs and freeze up your next dinner. Then thaw and enjoy with some mashed potatoes.
With partially cooked pasta, this recipe is perfect for storage! Package it up once you’ve mixed together the pasta, sausage, and sauce. Then when you’re ready, warm it in the oven, add the cheese, and follow the remaining recipe steps.
Chili is made for this! My recipe easily triples and can be portioned out into meals, stored, and then thawed into dinner. Just have your toppings ready and plenty of tortilla chips.
I have been making extra and storing bolognese for at least 20 years now. Cool the sauce, put it in a freezer bag, and this slow cooked meat sauce is now a weeknight dinner.
As with ground meat sauces, pulled chicken freezes beautifully. Cook the chicken until tender, reduce the sauce, toss them together, and then portion out half to cool. You can use the meat to make tacos again, enchiladas, loaded nachos, or any number of delicious Mexican style dishes.
Even more than Bolognese, this is the recipe I freeze the most! Once the meatballs have cooled, I put them into containers with some sauce and get them chilled. Just make sure you give them plenty of time to thaw completely before messing with them or you will end up with meat sauce instead of meatballs.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie