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Learning how to make freezer meals is a great way to have home cooked meals anytime, especially on those busy weeknights when you need to feed a family. If you dread cooking during the week, freezer meals can really come in handy!
In this post, I will teach you how to make freezer meals that are both healthy and delicious. I will also provide you with a list of 40 freezer-friendly meal options to get you started. So whether you’re short on time or just don’t feel like cooking, these recipes will help make your life a little easier!
Have you thought about meal planning by making freezer meals but are not sure where to start? Find out how easy it can be to create a freezer menu plan with tips on freezer meals to enjoy later. Also, check out how to freeze fresh herbs and garlic for quick prep.
What are freezer meals?
Freezer meals are recipes made ahead of time and frozen to use for a meal later. They can be family-sized or individual portions, but either way, it’s one of the best ways to meal prep and get ahead.
How to Make Freezer Meals
- Plan a menu. Pick a few meals to make and decide whether you will eat some now and freeze the “leftovers” or just make that meal to be frozen for later use. If you are making multiple chicken meals, you may find purchasing a whole chicken to be more cost-efficient, and you can cut the whole chicken to make it into multiple meals.
- Check your current inventory and make a list. Use what you have on hand and what can be cleared out of your pantry and freezer. Then make a grocery list for the remaining items. This is a great time to buy things in bulk if you plan on making more than one meal for the freezer at a time.
- Block out a schedule for creating meals. Choose a time during the week to make 3-4 meals for the freezer. If needed, separate this into two times: first for prepping vegetables, meats, and gathering seasonings, and then another block of time for cooking and freezing.
- Prep the ingredients. Chop veggies and fruits and thaw, trim, and clean meats if necessary for each recipe at the same time. If cooking right away, organize them into separate sections on your counter. If cooking later, divide into containers and store until ready.
- Batch cook. Set up an assembly line of ingredients to make your recipes for the freezer simultaneously. For doubling or tripling a recipe, use extra pots and pans to tackle such a large batch at one time. Then, prepare the recipe for freezing..
- Think about available freezer space. Figure out how much space you can dedicate in your freezer for prepped meals. If you have a deep freezer and a good amount of space, cooking more than one recipe for the freezer is a great option.
If you lack the space in the freezer, try just prepping ingredients to store in the freezer, or freezing recipes on meal-by-meal bases. Turn your leftovers into next week’s dinner or break down a recipe into individual servings for lunch.
Top tips for making freezer meals
- Use a water bath to remove excess air from the bag. To do this, fill your bag with a recipe, leaving space at the top. Leave the bag open and submerge it into a large water container until you reach the top. While the food-filled bag is still in the water, quickly seal it up. You will remove all the air with this simple step.
- Use bags and containers made explicitly for the freezer. Just because a container may fit in the freezer, it doesn’t mean you should use it. You’ll find that regular zip-top bags, thin glass jars, and most plastic storage containers are not sturdy enough to prevent freezer burn and may not keep your food fresh.
- Date and label before storing. Adding dates and labeling what food is frozen is easy to ensure you get the best quality from your freezer meals. When you know how long to keep a recipe at its freshest, include dates for when you froze it or a use-by date. Plus, labeling your frozen foods takes the question “what is this” out of the game, and you can plan your week of meals from what you already have made.
- Freeze liquid in bags on a baking sheet before storing it for easy stacking. Using bags is one of the easiest ways to freeze meals. To get them to keep in your freezer just right, place them flat on a baking sheet and allow them to freeze completely. Then, remove the pan, stack them up, or place them sideways to fit in your freezer.
- Cool to room temperature before placing in the freezer. There are a few reasons why you should cool food down before storing it.
1. Hot food will cause your freezer to warm up and cause other foods to partially defrost and refreeze, damaging the taste and texture.
2. Hot food in the freezer will accumulate steam and break any air-tight seal.
- Freeze portion-size freezer meals. Break down a large meal or use leftovers to meal prep individual servings for lunches and small dinners.
- Freeze vegetables, sides, mains, and fruits separately. Sometimes a freezer meal stands up better to the process when you freeze some of the items separately. For instance, storing sauces separately from pasta, or making the filling for shepherd’s pie and storing it in the freezer, and adding fresh mashed potatoes when ready to enjoy.
- Make multiple meals at a time. Choose a couple of meals you can make in one go that uses similar ingredients or cooking methods.
- Thaw in the fridge, when possible, for cool and constant temperatures. This takes a little bit of planning to pull a freezer meal from the freezer to thaw in the fridge, as this thawing method usually takes about a day. This is the best way to prepare freezer meals to make for dinner as they will thaw and cook evenly.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Trust your gut and just toss freezer foods that seem to be damaged. If you find punctures in the plastic bags, cracks in your plastic containers, or glass jars with unsealed lids, it’s best to just throw it out.
what are the best meals for freezing?
- Soups and Stews – One of the most freezer-friendly meals is soup, like this vegetable beef soup made in the instant pot! They can last in the freezer for months and are easy to portion down into single servings up to family-size meals. You can make an extra-large batch to divide into multiple meals.
- Cooked meats – Meal prep by cooking chicken, ground beef, meatballs and freezing for later use to quick start meals.
- Sauces – While I do not recommend freezing pasta dishes tossed in sauce, you can absolutely freeze the sauces, like spaghetti sauce, separately. Store in glass jars or other freezer-safe containers for a quick and easy dinner. Just cook the pasta fresh when ready to make.
- Smoothies – I love having freezer smoothie packs ready to go in the freezer. Make a few different flavors with fruit, non-dairy milk or Greek yogurt, leafy greens, oats, and nut butter for a quick breakfast or snack.
- Breakfast handhelds – Breakfast is one of those meals that are skipped often, whether you are running out of the house or don’t have the energy to make a meal. Spend some time making up a few different breakfast meals to put in the freezer, such as a breakfast burrito, waffles/pancakes, or muffins.
- Casseroles – Potato and rice casseroles, like this chicken and rice casserole make fantastic freezer meals. Make in disposable baking pans to easily freeze and bake. Casseroles are one of the best meals you can prepare ahead of time and freeze. You can make multiple casseroles using similar ingredients but switching up some ingredients for variety.
- Stocks and broths – While these are not full meals, having chicken stock and vegetable stock stored in the freezer will simplify your meal planning, and you’ll have ingredients on hand to make recipes.
what meals should I avoid freezing?
- Pasta with sauce – Once you’ve cooked pasta and tossed it in the sauce, it just won’t be the same once frozen and reheated and will likely have a gummy texture. The loophole here is to par-cook the pasta, allow it to air dry, lightly toss in oil and freeze it separately from the sauce.
- Meals with a cream-based sauce – Think shrimp alfredo or a creamy soup recipe. When the milk freezes, it separates from the water and forms ice crystals. Cream-based soups will likely break down once reheated and lose their texture and consistency.
- Dressings – Mayo-based dressings are not very freezer friendly and tend to separate once thawed.
- Fried foods – Unfortunately, fried foods tend to become soggy and won’t crisp up like when it is cooked fresh. You’ll lose a lot of the crunch that you want from fried food.
- Other dairy products – Recipes that include sour cream, milk, or cream cheese may not freeze too well. The texture won’t be the same as when fresh. If you have a soup that normally adds cream, leave it out when freezing and add it once you reheat it for the best texture and quality.
what are the different methods of freezing?
- Ziplock Bag: A freezer-safe zip-top bag takes the cake when it comes to freezable containers. You’ve got a good size selection, and you can easily write on the bags. Making it a top choice for freezer meal-prep. To best utilize these bags for freezing, place the recipe in a Ziplock bag and remove as much air as possible. Be sure to leave extra space for the food to expand while it freezes. Lay the bag flat when first freezing for easy stacking and storage. Also, be sure that the zip top is completely sealed to prevent any leakage and freezer burn.
Safety tip: Check for punctures in your plastic bags before freezing. If it is filling with air after sealing, then you either have a hole in the bag or the top isn’t sealed fully.
- Silicone Bags: These bags are super durable and great for freezing. Plus, they’re reusable. Use the same way you would zip-top bags.
Safety tip: With all storage, you’ll want to bring the temperature down before storing it in the freezer. Putting hot food in a sealed container and straight into the freezer can cause it to heat up the items around it.
- Mason Jars: Choose mason jars that are freezer safe as they have thicker glass that can hold up to temperature changes. Leave a 1-inch gap from the top of the lid to allow for the food to expand while it freezes. While reusing store-bought jars is great for storing bulk dry foods, they are not so great for freezing because the glass is thinner and less sturdy.
Safety tips: Leaving a gap is super important as the glass can break, or the lid can pop off as the pressure builds up while freezing. When thawing, avoid running the jars under warm water, as this may also cause breakage as the glass can become unstable. It’s best to defrost in the fridge overnight, so give yourself some headway if you plan to use frozen food stored in mason jars.
- Wrap: You can use foil, plastic, or parchment paper to help insulate food for freezing. Some foods can benefit from using foil and plastic together.
- Aluminum pans: For bake-ready freezer meals, make meals in disposable pans and cover them with plastic wrap, foil, or a lid. Remove the cover before baking.
- Plastic tubs with lids: This is an easy way to store food and is great for stacking. Use freezer-friendly tubs as they are thicker and can retain freshness properly.
best freezer meal recipes
One of the best things you can learn to do, especially when feeding a family, is to learn how to make frozen meals. Some of the best freezer meal recipes are casseroles and bakes, breakfast handhelds, meat marinades, a variety of sauces, and of course, the most popular freezer meal is soups!
freezer breakfast burrito
Have breakfast on the go with freezer breakfast burritos filled with eggs, peppers and onions, black beans, and cheese. Serve with a side of sour cream and salsa, and you’ll have a super easy and extra hearty breakfast to get you through the morning. Grab the Southwest Burrito Recipe!
How to freeze breakfast burritos
- Assemble the burritos, and let cool to room temperature. Wrap each burrito in foil to help prevent freezer burn. Place the wrapped burritos in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to three months.
- You can go straight from the freezer to the microwave, air fryer, or oven without thawing beforehand. See the full recipe post for reheating instructions for each method.
Smoothies are already really simple to put together. Take advantage of fresh produce and extend the life of your fruits and veggies by making smoothie packs kept in the freezer. You’ll have a quick treat ready to blend whenever you’d like. Include the fruit, leafy greens, nut butter, and seeds in different zip-top bags for a plethora of smoothie varieties to enjoy.
Once you’re ready to make a smoothie, run hot water over the bag for a few seconds, add to the blender with liquid, blend and enjoy! Grab the Smoothie Pack Recipes!
How to freeze smoothie packs
- Place all of the ingredients into a freezer-safe bag or container, and store them in the freezer for up to three months.
- To save space, I recommend laying the freezer bag flat after sealing and spreading the ingredients out. Place each bag in the freezer flat and wait until they have frozen. Then, use a square container to store and organize all your smoothies in an upright position.
Homemade spaghetti sauce is something truly special and a labor of love. After spending time making a rich, deep, flavorful sauce, you’ll want to enjoy it for a long time. Make a big batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze it for quick meals. You can use it on pasta, eggplant parmesan, and unstuffed peppers, to name a few. Grab the Spaghetti Sauce Recipe!
How to freeze spaghetti sauce
- Allow sauce to cool completely, then pack into freezer-safe containers, leaving about an inch at the top of each container for expansion in the freezer. Close tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To use from frozen, defrost the container overnight in the fridge. When ready to serve, place the contents in a large pot and bring them up to a boil before serving. For pack-along lunches, reheat in the microwave until heated through.
Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Have soup whenever you want when you make a batch to have in the freezer. Chicken soup with wild rice is such a tasty recipe to have on hand whenever you get a craving for lunch or want an easy and delicious meal for dinner. Bonus for this recipe not containing any cream. Grab the Chicken And Wild Rice Soup Recipe!
How to freeze chicken soup
- To freeze chicken wild rice soup, cool the soup to room temperature, then pack it into freezer-safe containers, leaving about an inch at the top of each container for expansion in the freezer. Close tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To use from frozen, defrost the container overnight in the fridge. When ready to serve, place the contents in a large pot and bring them up to a boil before serving.
Instant pot Vegetable Beef Soup
Hearty with chunks of beef and loaded with veggies, this savory vegetable beef soup makes for one heck of a freezer meal and a life-saver on busy days when made in the Instant Pot. Grab the Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe!
How to freeze beef soup
- To freeze vegetable beef soup, cool the soup to room temperature, then pack it into freezer-safe containers, leaving about an inch at the top of each container for expansion in the freezer. Close tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To use from frozen, defrost the container overnight in the fridge. When ready to serve, place the contents in a large pot and bring them up to a boil before serving.
Chicken and Rice Casserole
Skip the final bake and store chicken and rice casserole in the freezer for a quick and easy family dinner recipe. Grab the Chicken And Rice Casserole Recipe!
How to freeze casseroles
- If you wish to make this casserole ahead, instead of baking right away, let the casserole cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with a layer of foil and plastic wrap. You can also store it in a zip-top bag and transfer it to a casserole dish when ready to bake.
- When ready to serve, let the frozen casserole defrost overnight in the fridge. Remove and discard the plastic wrap and bake (covered) in a 350˚F oven for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.
- You can also bake it and store it in a freezer safe container or zip top bag in individual servings for a quick meal.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to marinating chicken that you can really get creative and experiment with different flavors to find your perfect combination! Grab the Chicken Marinade Recipes!
How to freeze meat with marinade
- Just place the chicken in a resealable bag and add the marinade. Make sure that the chicken is fully coated in the marinade before freezing.
- When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and allow the chicken to thaw completely before cooking. Bake, grill, pan-fry, you name it!
Must-have Gadgets for Freezer Meals
A huge part of prepping freezer meals is making sure you have the suitable materials to do so! The proper containers allow you to stay organized and keep food fresh, so choose containers and materials that are practical, easy, and get you excited about preparation. Check out my Amazon store for a complete list of recommended storage containers.
- Gallon-Sized Baggies – Zip-top bags are perfect for storing fresh food items (e.g., meat or fish), soups, and other recipes in the fridge or freezer. Freeze the bags flat for easy, stackable storage.
- Baggy Rack Stand – Have an extra set of “hands” to help you store food in bags. It will hold the bag open for you to pour liquid quickly or scoop in casseroles and chilis.
- Reusable Silicone Freezer Bags
- Wide Mouth Mason Jars – Freeze soup, sauces, and such with glass jars that hold up to freezing and are great for saving space.
- Mason Jar Lids – These reusable wide-mouth mason jar lids are leakproof, scratch resistant, and made from BPA-free plastic.
- Nonstick Aluminum Foil – Cover and wrap food with confidence! Tin foil is so versatile and one of its uses is to wrap food for storage in the freezer, such as meat and casseroles.
- Freezer-Safe Containers (Glass) – These glass storage containers include secure lids, are stackable, and are versatile for storing various recipes and foods.
- Freezer-Safe Containers (Plastic)
- Family-size Meal Prep Containers – These plastic containers are lighter than their glass counterparts and still offer quality leakproof fresh saving capabilities. And they stack well for storing in the freezer or fridge.
- Individual Meal Prep Containers – Convenient for your lunch, leftovers, or takeout, these leak-proof, airtight meal prep container has 2 compartments to keep your food fresh and make meal prep a breeze.
- Aluminum Pans with Covers – Make casseroles, lasagne, and more oven-baked recipes by storing them in ready-to-heat aluminum pans, covers included! Cover with plastic wrap before covering with the lid for extra protection in the freezer.
More Freezer Friendly Family Meals
There are so many meals that work as freezer recipes. This type of meal prep makes family meals a breeze and is fantastic for quick lunches. Add some of these other recipes to your meal plan!
You’ll find specific freezing instructions for each recipe on the individual posts.
Soups, Stews, and Chili
Soups, stews, and chilis are perfect for making a double batch and freezing for a quick, no-hassle dinner with all the goodness of fresh made.
- Tomato Lentil Soup
- White Chicken Chili
- Chicken Green Bean Stew
- Sweet Potato Cauliflower Soup
- Pea Carrot Stew
- Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
- Lebanese Crushed Lentil Soup
- Freekeh Chicken Soup
Morning routines are a breeze, with freezer-friendly breakfasts ready to go! Heat and serve for a delicious breakfast without dirtying a dish! Who says freezer meals are just for dinner?
- Blueberry Banana Muffins
- Healthy Muffins for Kids
- Fluffy Banana Pancakes
- Chocolate Protein Pancakes
- One Pan Oven Baked Oatmeal
- Crepes Batter
- Broccoli and Cheese Quiche
- Mediterranean Egg Wrap
So many meals can be made ahead of time and frozen for when you’re ready to enjoy. Try some of my favorite main dishes to add to your freezer meal rotation. Each recipe includes the best method for freezing included!
- Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Easy French Toast Casserole
- Red Lentil Curry
- Easy Oven Baked Beef Stew
- Easy Baked Spaghetti
- Baked Kibbeh
- Greek Baked Meatballs
- Chickpea Burger
- Beef Burgers
Quickly add a side dish to a main meal with freezer-friendly sides. If you have leftover cooking for the freezer, you will have a variety of options to choose from without grinding away in the kitchen to complete your meal.
- Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Garlic Knots
- Lebanese Meat Pies
- Par-Cooked Rice
- Crispy Quinoa Patties
- Crispy Cheese Rolls
- Rosemary Focaccia
- Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice
Extend the life of ingredients by adding them to the freezer. Homemade broths, fresh fruits and herbs, and many more common ingredients are ready to go when you make delicious meals at home.
frequently asked questions
Technically, freezer meals have an indefinite shelf life when stored under proper conditions. BUT for quality, most frozen meals should be consumed within 3 months. After this point, they tend to degrade in flavor and texture.
Adding marinade to frozen meat just doesn’t work. You want to add it to chicken or beef that is not frozen so it adheres to the meat and works how it should. They will freeze simultaneously, unlike adding them to frozen meat, which will result in a watery recipe.
Mostly, yes. This allows the recipe to cook evenly. But this isn’t always the case, and it depends on each recipe. Smoothie freezer packs, breakfast burritos, and some casseroles can be made without thawing.
Enjoy your homecooked meals for weeks to come by learning how to freeze your meals for the family. There are only a few limitations to making recipes ahead of time to freeze, but you’ll love being able to store your sauces, casseroles, smoothies, breakfast wraps, and so much more in the freezer for meals ready when you are.
full list of recipes
Check out the picture cards for all the recipes listed above. You can click on any of the recipe cards to take you directly to those recipes. Use the tips and steps mentioned above to freeze more recipes.
If you find this guide for How to Make Freezer Meals useful or if you try any recipe on Feel Good Foodie, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below! It helps to create a dialogue with others who find this article. And if you snapped some shots of any of these tips and tricks, please share them on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!