How to Stock Your Freezer with Make-Ahead Meals
Once I got into the third trimester of my pregnancy, I started to make a list of all the things I wanted to stash away in the freezer for after the baby was born. So many of my friends told me that it was a life saver, so I was all-in. My mom ended up making all of the main dishes for me, and I stashed away a lot of breakfast and snack foods. All of my friends were absolutely right – when you’re sleep-deprived and starving, it’s phenomenal to be able to reach into the freezer and grab something, throw it into the oven and have a hot meal.
There are definitely certain foods and meals that freeze and reheat better than others, and I’ve listed my favorites below along with 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. 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)
- Muffins (banana and blueberry 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 a little 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?