Baking Basics: Stocking Your Freezer with Make-Ahead Meals
It’s about that time again! My due date is exactly a week away and I’m starting to get slightly anxious, eeeeek. Right before Joseph was born, my mom made a ton of food to stash in our freezer, and it was a huge lifesaver. Especially since I was recovering from an unplanned c-section, just being able to throw some baked ziti into the oven or heat up a batch of chili was amazing.
My mom just spent two weeks in Montreal for work, flew home on Friday night, and then proceeded to spend all day Saturday in the kitchen. On Sunday she showed up to our house with trays of baked ziti, meatloaves and pasta sauce to stash in the freezer, and then said she was going to be making chili, soup and breaded chicken over the next week. So basically, my mom is awesome times a thousand.
While this isn’t exactly a “baking basics”, it’s certainly a food basics and it seemed like a great time to talk about some of my favorite freezer meals and some tips on how to keep your frozen meals as fresh as possible.
If you’re planning to stock your freezer either because you’re expecting or maybe just to make things a little bit easier on weeknights, your first plan of action is to decide what to make. Some recipes freeze better than others, but your possibilities are vast and nearly endless. This list is nowhere close to being comprehensive, but here are some of my favorite freezer meals:
- Baked pasta of any sort – lasagna, ziti, stuffed shells, etc.
- Pasta sauce for quick spaghetti dinners
- Pizza dough for quick homemade pizzas
- Pizza sauce
- Fully assembled pizzas
- Meatballs (serve with spaghetti or throw in the slow cooker with sauce for meatball subs)
- Taco meat
- Muffins (banana, blueberry and chocolate chip are my favorite!)
- Breakfast burritos
- Breaded chicken (great for a meal or adding to a salad)
- Cookies or cookie dough balls
TIPS FOR FREEZING MEALS
- Sauce-based dishes: If you’re freezing something like baked ziti or enchiladas, I’ve found that adding extra sauce to the dish before freezing keeps the reheated dish from being dried out.
- Pizza dough: Freeze after the dough rises, but before shaping. Just form it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
- Large-yield recipes: For things like baked ziti, chili or a big pot of soup, freeze in smaller portions. This lessens the likelihood that the food will go to waste or that you’ll get tired of eating the same thing for days on end.
- Soups and sauces: To save freezer space, portion out soups and sauces into gallon-size freezer bags, seal and lay flat to freeze, then stack them.
- Containers: Whenever possible, I freeze in disposable containers so that clean up is easy and there aren’t any dishes to wash. For baked pastas or casseroles, this means foil pans. For things like muffins, cookies or breakfast burritos, I wrap individually in plastic wrap then place then a freezer bag.
Whether you’re planning ahead for yourself or making something for a loved one, having an easy hot meal in the freezer is a fabulous idea!
What are your favorite recipes to keep in the freezer for a rainy day?