Some freezer meal inspiration!
I wrote this post with new moms in mind, but having freezer meals is so good for preparing for an operation, a busy season, or even taking as a sympathy meal.
One of the best things I did pre-baby this time around was make a bunch of foods to freeze.
I started maybe one or two months before my due date, just picking one recipe per week to make an extra big batch of. Some of it we'd have for dinner that night and some of it would get frozen. I was surprised at how quickly our freezer filled up this way! And it didn't feel like a big job. It just was regular dinner making with the extra step of packaging and freezing thrown in.
What Freezes Well
Obviously the limiting factor in what's successful as a freezer meal... Some foods do not freeze well!
For main dishes, meats, soups, and stews all really shine here.
It's also really easy to make extra baked goods for breakfasts or snacking!
Anything that can't be reheated from frozen and still have a pleasant texture should be avoided.
Recipes that are great for freezing:
- Chicken noodle soup - (I'd make the soup base and cook the noodles separately when you reheat it).
- Slow cooker Italian meatballs - So good for subs or on pasta!
- Chicken enchiladas
- Any type of ham bone soup
- Chili - like this pumpkin chili or this three bean chili
- Beef for Korean beef bowls - I love this one because it feels like a lighter/fresher take on a freezer meal! Just make and freeze the beef, then prep rice and top with whatever produce you have whenever you plan to eat it.
- Baked spaghetti - like lasagna, but easier!
- A really easy weeknight cassoulet - sausage and white beans.
- Easy beef stew - maybe the most hands-off way to make beef stew!
Baked Goods and Snacks:
Dinners are important. But let us not underestimate how great it is to have a stash of quick breads, cookies, and snacks at the ready!
- Pumpkin bread
- A one-bowl banana bread
- Southwestern breakfast burritos
- The best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!
- Blueberry muffins
- Apple cinnamon muffins
- The softest chocolate chip cookies
- Strawberry oat crumble bars
Okay, admittedly in the past I've been really haphazard about what I freeze foods in. Since I was aiming to scale up our stash this time, I tried to be more thoughtful about what containers I used so I wasn't without my everyday food storage containers for months.
Foil trays with lids are amazing for casseroles, roasts, and stews! I like the kind with foil lids that lay flat on the top because you can stack them easily and they don't take up a ton of space. Plus, you can reheat right in the same containers.
Deli-style plastic food storage containers are great for food prep, leftovers, freezing, etc. They stack easily and don't take up a ton of space, so storage is easy! I like these for sauces, soups, and meats. I ordered a big pack (which is inexpensive!) and they have been so convenient.
Plastic freezer bags are a great way to freeze baked goods like muffins, quick breads, and cookies.
Foil and plastic wrap are nice if you need a little extra seal on something.
For labeling, I use a marker and tape. Sometimes I will write instructions for reheating, too!
You can (obviously!) take the approach of making lots of food to freeze, but don't forget about favorite grocery store items, too!
Meals: Stoffer's mac and cheese/lasagna/pizzas/tamales.
Sides: Steamable bags of veggies/frozen rice packets/fries.
Breakfasts: Quick breads/muffins/breakfast burritos/bagels.
Stocking the freezer was one of my pre-baby nesting list items that felt kind of daunting, but it was SO WORTH the effort. We are benefitting so much from having easy dinners, homemade cookies, and breakfast options at the ready.