Setting aside a weekend afternoon to batch-cook make-ahead freezer meals is a great way to stay ahead of meal prep for the week. With a little recipe planning and shopping, you can eliminate the chaos of preparing a homemade dinner for hungry kids and parents. Cooking up large batches of family-favorite dinners like chili, pasta and soup, then freezing half, can add variety to your family’s dinner routine. Bonus points for freezing additional toppings and add ons to jazz up and customize your one bowl meals.
How Do You Make-Ahead Freezer Meals Work?
The idea of make-ahead freezer meals is simple – enjoy your fresh-cooked dishes when they’re prepared, add a green vegetable or salad to make it a hearty, balanced meal, then a week or two later, pull out the frozen version (hello again!) the night before eating so it can thaw in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave, or in a pot with a splash of water. Add toppings to keep things interesting for everyone. This economic way of prepping food saves time and money. You can double the recipe too depending on your family size, or give half to a friend. A surprise homemade meal delivered to a neighbor’s doorstep is always appreciated!
Use What You Already Have
Take a moment to assess your freezer. Are there any half-eaten bags of veggies or ice cream cartons? Bring those to the front so you eat those first, making room for your freezer meals. Toss anything that looks old or completely iced over. Freezing stews, soups and pasta is easy in a Glad bag. Lay them flat on a small baking pan or plate to freeze them into space-efficient packets, and keep them stacked up for later.
Our Favorite Freezer-Friendly Dishes
There are many Hidden Valley Ranch family-friendly recipes that are perfect for freezing. Stews, braises, dips, casseroles, soups and pastas made from frozen vegetables recipes are all great after an overnight thaw in the fridge. Be sure to label and date your creations to avoid confusion when you’re looking for your 5-minute dinner after a busy day. There’s nothing like whipping up quick, make-ahead freezer meals you made a few weeks ago!
Here are some easy dinner ideas and recipes to get started. Just remember to double the recipe, and freeze half for later!
Keep It Tasting Fresh
All of these easy dinner ideas can be jazzed up with a topping or extra ingredient after they’re thawed, heated and ready to plate. Just freeze a little extra cheese, fresh bread or bacon, so you’ll always be able to add an extra dash of love to any dish. A pinch of fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of lemon are also great additions to boost texture and flavor contrast when plating.