The only thing better than a home-cooked dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) is one that takes almost no effort at all. But when you’re strapped for time, it’s easy to fall back on convenient staples like frozen pizza or takeout—we’re definitely guilty. So allow us to introduce you to our time-saving savior for homemade weeknight dinners: the freezer meal.
Meal-prepping and packing your freezer with fancy lasagnas and casseroles sounds time-consuming, but it’s easier to do than you’d think. A lot of simple foods you already make happen to be freezable and reheat like a dream. (If not, all it usually takes is a different baking dish or a modified cooking step to get them there.) Once your freezer is stocked, you’ll be able to save on weeknight prep time when the last thing you want to do is cook. Sound appealing? Start one of these 45 freezer meal recipes.
Tips and Tricks for Freezing Meals:
- Stock up on freezer-safe baking dishes and silicone food bags, which are more eco-friendly than disposable aluminum tins and plastic bags.
- Storing food in smaller servings means it will freeze faster and allow you to reheat only what you need, reducing food waste.
- Label and date everything you freeze. Use the FIFO method (first in, first out) to organize your freezer so you use the oldest meals first and nothing goes bad.
- Choose freezer-friendly foods: Casseroles, soups, chilis, meat loaves and meats keep well. Foods with high water content (like lettuce) will become soggy when thawed. Fully cooked pasta can become mushy (but if you slightly undercook it before freezing, it will stay al dente).
- Most frozen meals will keep for about three months without a change in texture or flavor. Make sure they’re wrapped and stored airtight to avoid the dreaded freezer burn.
- Defrost food safely by transferring from the freezer to the fridge instead of thawing at room temperature. It’s slower, for sure, but it reduces the risk of foodborne illness.
1. Spinach and Three-Cheese Stuffed Shells
Instead of baking this gooey number in a skillet, use a freezer-safe casserole dish or aluminum pan. When you’re ready to eat, thaw and reheat it in a 350°F oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden again.
2. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust
As if we didn’t love mac and cheese already, it also happens to freeze and reheat beautifully. This one is practically a work of art.
3. Spicy Lemon-Ginger Chicken Soup
To make this simple soup even more make-ahead friendly, freeze the chicken and broth in separate containers, and assemble with fresh greens and jalapeños whenever you want to eat it.
4. White Turkey Chili with Avocado
This makes enough to feed eight, so we’re dividing it in half and freezing some for later. (The other half is for tonight.)
5. Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas
Who knew a slow cooker would be the secret to the fastest Taco Tuesday ever?
6. Quick Congee
Congee, a type of rice porridge, happens to be as convenient as it is comforting when you make and portion it ahead of time. If only skipping the snooze button were that easy.
7. Vegetarian Chili
One batch will feed you for an entire week, and the hardest thing you have to do is let the ingredients simmer.
8. Slow-Cooker Chicken Potpie Soup
You’ve got two easy options here: Make the biscuit topping ahead and freeze it separately, or bake and assemble the day of (in less than 20 minutes!).
9. Quiche with Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Crust
Think of this low-carb, gluten-free dish as freezer-friendly scrambled eggs that happen to serve a crowd.
10. Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage
The thing about store-bought tortellini is that it feels fancy when it’s not. In fact, we’re pretty convinced it’s magic.
11. Slow-Cooker Pulled Chicken
A giant batch of pulled chicken takes almost no effort at all, but the end result is so versatile that you’ll want to make it at least once a week.
12. Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup
Stand by the stove and watch onions caramelize? We’d rather not. Thankfully, the slow cooker can do the hard work while we catch up on the second season of You.
13. Perfect Meatballs with Cherry Tomato Sauce
We’ve never met a meatball we didn’t like. Good thing they take no time to make and keep for up to six months in the freezer.
14. Instant Pot Spicy Thai Butternut Squash Soup
Memorize this equation: Instant Pot + freezer meal + fastest weeknight dinner ever. Psst: Microwave the squash to make it easier to chop.
15. Ravioli Lasagna
Lasagna is well known for being freezer-friendly. We put our own spin on the classic and made it with ravioli, because why not?
16. Loaded Baked Potato and Cauliflower Soup
Making the soup ahead leaves you plenty of time for the most important part: prepping the toppings.
17. Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork
Like pulled chicken, pulled pork is endlessly versatile and easily freezable. Do we see sliders in your future?
18. Spicy Turkey Enchiladas with Pumpkin Seeds
Want to know a secret? This is just as delicious (and equally fuss-free) if you use a store-bought rotisserie chicken in place of the turkey.
19. The Ultimate Chicken Potpie
Follow all the steps right until baking. It’ll go into the freezer with the crust still raw so it’s crisp and flaky when you get a craving.
20. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
When you want something healthy yet decadent but don’t have the patience, this mashup will serve you well.
21. Mozzarella Meatball Frittata
Meet our secret go-to fridge-cleanout dinner. It takes 20 minutes to make and even less time to eat. Win-win.
22. Sunday Morning French Toast
Brunch is great in theory, but sleeping in might be better. Stash this one away for a sleepy Sunday morning that’s also delicious.
23. Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites
If you don’t think we’re baking a million of these babies and keeping them in freezer bags for future cocktail parties, think again.
24. Savory Cheese Waffles
Eggo was on to something: Waffles keep well in the freezer and are so easy to reheat in the toaster. Ours have cheese, so they’re even better.
25. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Easy Frittata
A frittata is the ultimate way to clean out your crisper drawer. You can swap the beet greens for kale, spinach or another hearty green, or go wild with roasted vegetables and cheese.
26. Waffle Breakfast Sandwich with Chorizo
You stocked up on waffles, right? Put them to good use in a savory breakfast sandwich. Everything can be made ahead of time except the egg—just fry up it à la minute.
27. Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers
For a convenient vegetarian dinner (or lunch), freeze these burgers before you get to the sautéing step. Pull them out of the freezer to thaw ahead of time, and when it’s time to eat, you’ll only need to cook them for about ten minutes.
28. Market Corn Chowder with Summer Savory
Our M.O.? Make a batch in the summertime while the produce is fresh, then stock the freezer for those dark days of winter.
29. Ina Garten’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Eggplant
If you don’t have individual ramekins, you can store this in one large baking dish. But we like the convenience that individual servings bring to the table.
30. Vegan Lentil-Mushroom Burgers
Not today, store-bought vegan burgers. These lentil-based patties are made with ingredients you can actually recognize, and they hardly take up space in your freezer.
31. Creamy Vegan Cauliflower Corn Chowder
With no cream in it at all, Gena Hamshaw’s hearty and healthy chowder is kind of a creamy soup miracle. Best of all, it freezes for up to two months.
32. Leek, Kale and Goat Cheese Strata
A strata is just a baked dish of eggs, bread and cheese. Keep this recipe in your back pocket and customize it with what’s already in your fridge. Just promise you won’t skip the cheese.
33. Ina Garten’s Baked Spinach and Zucchini
We know for a fact that Ina herself is a fan of the freezer. We’re sure she wouldn’t mind if you whipped up this gratin for a later date, as long as you used good olive oil.
34. Joanna Gaines’s Asparagus and Fontina Quiche
Prebake this pretty, savory pie before putting it in the freezer so Sunday brunch is just a thaw and a reheat away. File this one under “genius.”
35. Crock-Pot Corn Chowder
We’re doubling the batch and making enough to last until Memorial Day. Don’t have fresh corn? Use frozen. No one will know the difference.
36. Easy Indian-Inspired Kitchari Bowls
Kitchari is an Ayurvedic Indian stew that’s as soothing and restorative as it is easy to freeze. You can switch up the vegetables for anything you have on hand; we like to use whatever’s in season at the moment.
37. Curried Parsnip and Apple Soup
Puréed soups freeze and reheat like nobody’s business. The next time you get carried away with an apple haul, prep this for soup season.
38. Freezer-Meal Wild Rice Soup
The last thing we feel like doing on a Monday night? Making dinner. This creamy soup goes from freezer to slow cooker or Instant Pot in no time, so dinner is handled.
39. Breakfast Quesadilla with Soft Scrambled Eggs and Avocado Salsa
For on-the-go breakfasts all week long, stop just after assembly. Wrap the quesadillas tightly, freeze, then thaw in the microwave before toasting in a skillet the day of.
40. Pork and Charred Cabbage Dumplings
Homemade dumplings are definitely a project, but they’re so worth the effort when it’s crunch time (read: dinnertime) and you can’t be bothered with a complicated dinner.
41. Freeze-Ahead Turkey Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches
Cook, assemble and stash a bunch of these sammies in silicone storage bags for busy mornings. The whole thing can be reheated in a 375°F oven while you enjoy your coffee.
42. Southwestern Lasagna
To make this spicy, cheesy number freezer-friendly, Phoebe Lapine suggests baking it in a lidded casserole dish instead of a skillet. Then the whole thing can be stowed away for a rainy—or lazy—day.
43. Freezer-Meal Spicy Sweet Potato Peanut Stew
Freezer meal, meet Instant Pot. To make this vegan wonder in eight minutes flat (really!), you’ll prep and chop ahead of time, portion into freezer bags, then toss into the pot and go.
44. Chinese Mushroom Dumplings with Sweet Chili Ginger Sesame Sauce
Thanks to store-bought wonton wrappers, your usual takeout spot doesn’t know what’s coming. Don’t get us started on the sweet chili ginger-sesame sauce.
45. Pesto Roasted Veggie Breakfast Burritos
We know they’re called breakfast burritos, but if we’re being honest, we would eat them for lunch and dinner too.