We all have days where we just want to turn off the alarm, tuck ourselves back into bed, and maybe doze off or just stay awake doing nothing.
I mean, I pride myself in being able to stick to a routine but sometimes, I just feel so lazy that I don’t even want to take 20 minutes of my own time to make my own food — and I don’t care how hardworking you say you are, these days come to you, too.
It’s times like these when freezer meals come in handy. These are meals that you prepare beforehand, put it in some sort of container and into the freezer, and just thaw/cook when you feel way too laid back to be bothered to make a fresh meal.
On that note, I’ve listed some of the best, most delicious, and easy freezer meals I found on the internet.
All of them should help you get healthy meals in minutes, without having to spend extra money on drive-thru or take up too much of your time. But, before we get those, let me just answer a few quick questions you probably have about freezer meals.
How long can you keep food in the freezer?
It depends on what type of food you’re keeping but according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, frozen food kept at 0℉ (~18℃) can be kept indefinitely.
However, I personally like to store my meals for a maximum of 3 months. Often less.
Even when stored properly, it’s usually after those 3 months that freezer burn sets in. They’re still edible but the change in texture and taste almost makes them unbearable to me, so I end up ordering something else anyway. It just makes the whole idea counterintuitive, I think.
Which brings us to the next question you might have…
How do you properly store food in the freezer?
Well, you’ve got a few things to consider but I think sitting at the top of the list are temperature and containers.
You want to keep your freezer’s temperature at 0℉ or less. Any hotter than that and you risk spoiling your food.
But, if you plan on eating meal preps or pre-cooked meals within a few days, it should do fine in the fridge (not the freezer) as long as the temperature doesn’t climb higher than 40℉.
However, if I plan to store food for longer than a week (which is likely what’s going to happen with freezer meals), I find it’s best to use heat-seal bags and a vacuum sealer.
This way, my food stays fresh for longer because the vacuum helps prevent freezer burns. I use Geryon’s Vacuum Sealer but any other brand should do just fine.
If you’re not willing to invest in a vacuum sealer today, that’s fine, too. You can use gallon-sized Ziploc bags instead but try to push out as much air as you can.
Other food storage tips:
- Label your food — Doing so helps you keep track of how much time your food has spent in the freezer.
- Put the older batch of food in front — This way, you know what food you need to eat first.
- Portions are key — Packing your food in separate containers and making sure each container has just the right amount you need for a meal helps you cut costs and maintain a healthy diet. Plus, it makes reheating so much easier.
- Store raw meat, poultry, and fish separately — Preferably away from other goodies and perhaps at the bottom to prevent contamination.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the main reason why you’re here.
20 delicious and EASY make-ahead meals
1. Mini freezer-friendly individual lasagnas
My family has a lasagna recipe that’s been passed down for generations but it takes me hours to make it. If I have family coming over, it’s what I make but most other days, I make Money Saving Mom’s freezer-friendly lasagnas instead.
The recipe makes 13-15 mini lasagnas and trust me, they’re absolutely delicious and easy to make.
2. Chicken tuscan pasta bake
Here’s another pasta dish I like to make in advance.
It’s got chicken, onions and garlic, kale, tomatoes, penne pasta, milk, and 3 different kinds of cheese (cream cheese, parmesan, and mozzarella). Personally, I think all that cheese is the best part of this dish. I even add more than what the recipe says sometimes, but you can put as much as you want. It might not be the best idea if you’re trying to lose weight though.
Anyhow, you can find the recipe at Rachel Cooks.
3. Cheesy baked ziti
Baked ziti has always been one of my favorite dishes of all time. I remember when I was still a teenager, my sister and I would go restaurant-hopping to look for the best one. We could never see eye to eye on which was the best but now that we’re both older, we agree that Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s cheesy baked ziti is a perfect freezer meal.
It’s an explosion of flavor without having the need to use all sorts of ingredients that aren’t always in grocery stores. I think it’s best served fresh but reheating it from the freezer tastes great, too!
4. Pesto pasta
You want pasta but not a big fan of cheese? Maybe this’ll suit your tastes better.
Tasty’s recipe makes 4 servings and is real simple and nutritious. All you need are your pasta of choice, broccoli, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, pesto, and a bit of mozzarella. Store everything in the freezer but if you want to cook it right away, throw ‘em all in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
5. Smoked-pork-stuffed pasta shells
Ever went to a barbeque restaurant that’s got these HUUUUGE servings of pork? So huge, in fact, that you can’t possibly finish it all?
Well, here’s a recipe that helps make use of the leftovers (or, you know… you could make your own fresh smoked pork if that’s what you want). The dish looks pretty but more importantly, it’s delicious and easy. Get the full recipe at Southern Living.
6. Make ahead orange chicken
I don’t know about you but I just love orange chicken — and Happy Money Saver’s recipe is no exception!
It’s like Panda Express but the difference is that you know exactly what goes on your chicken and instead of the takeout box, it comes from your freezer. The recipe makes 6 servings and takes about 30-45 minutes to make.
7. Chicken, broccoli, bacon, and potatoes
First of all, bacon. What else do I need to say about this freezer meal to make you want to try it?
All kidding aside, this dish literally brings you layers of flavor since each ingredient is supposed to have its own layer. At the bottom are tomatoes, followed by chicken, then broccoli, bacon, onion, and cheese at the very top.
Check out Kylee Cooks for more detailed instructions.
8. Chicken tinga
Wait, what day is it? Is it Tuesday? You know where this is going…
TACO TUESDAY! And this recipe is perfect for it!
It takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Just put all the sauce’s ingredients in a blend, mix them up real good, pour into a ziploc bag with boneless chicken thighs, and freeze. Now, when you need tacos (even if it’s not a Tuesday), you’ve got an amazing chicken tinga just waiting to be thawed and cooked. They’re even great with rice!
You’ve got to thank Pinch of Yum for this beautiful lifehack!
9. Chicken freezer marinades (7 of them!)
None of those other chicken recipes piqued your interests, huh? That’s alright. Sweet Peas and Saffron has 7 easy freezer marinades that you can choose from.
My personal favorite is the soy honey garlic marinade while my wife loves jerk chicken. Other marinades you can easily make at home are cilantro lime, sweet chili, lemon ginger, yogurt curry, and chipotle lime. I highly recommend you try them all out and find what you think is best.
10. Korean beef barbeque
My wife and I’s typical date night almost always involves korean barbeque. We love it and we even make it at home when we feel like avoiding people. We’re antisocial like that sometimes.
After some time, however, we wanted more — and that’s when we found Pinch of Yum’s korean beef barbecue recipe. Before you try this out though, I should warn you that it’s not an authentic korean recipe but it tastes great nonetheless.
11. Slow cooker Mongolian beef
I don’t know about you but there’s something about a mixture of ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and soy sauce that makes food so addicting. It’s probably why Chinese food, including this dish, tastes so darn good.
Fabulessly Frugal has a very easy-to-follow recipe for this dish and what’s even better is that you can throw it in the slow cooker for about 5 hours, do whatever it is you need to do, and come home to delicious food that you wouldn’t even know came out of your freezer. It truly is one of the best easy freezer meals I’ve made.
12. Make-ahead ground beef
I’m going to be honest here: anything with a hint of southern in it, I’m likely going to love. That part of America hosts some of the best food the world has to offer in my opinion.
I’m telling you this because Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen is responsible for this ground beef recipe. And, in true southern fashion, it’s simplistic but goes well with a lot of other food like casseroles, tacos, and one of my cheat day favorites, sloppy joes.
13. Paleo beef and broccoli
I like to consider beef and broccoli as an all-time classic. Everyone and their grandparents know what it is and pretty much everyone knows how to cook it. After all, it’s just beef, broccoli, and a few other ingredients tossed in one pan.
Having said that, I believe it’s not just an easy freezer meal, but a healthy one, too. Check out Happy Money Saver for the full recipe.
14. Beef stroganoff
About this meal… Jamerrill from Large Family Table says she’s been making this recipe for about 20 years. For a recipe to survive that long, man, this must be good!
It’s super simple to do, too. All you need is to mix ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, brown rice (macaroni seems to work as well), and sour cream and pour them on to a baking pan. Top with mozzarella, cover it up, and freeze.
15. Spaghetti and meatballs
To start off the pork recipes, let’s start with a classic that nearly every family has their own recipe to — spaghetti and meatballs!
Taste of Home has a pretty basic recipe with ingredients that you can find in virtually every grocery store. It’s actually not too far from my family’s own version, so I can vouch for this dish’s flavor.
16. Southwestern pork chops
This is another recipe I got from Taste of Home. It honestly uses more ingredients than most other pork chop recipes I’ve seen but if you won’t let the numbers overwhelm you, it’s actually fairly simple to make. Tasty, too.
17. Slow cooker pork chops with apples and sweet potatoes
About those other pork chop recipes I told you about… This is one of them.
It needs way less ingredients to make but it’s also significantly easier. Nothing spells easy freezer meals better than dumping all the ingredients in a slow cooker, waiting 8 hours, and coming back to delicious, fragrant pork chops.
Head on out to Stockpiling Moms to get the full recipe.
18. Boneless BBQ ribs
Who says ribs have to be grilled? Well, I do. Sometimes. But, the truth is that grilling and smoking ribs takes more effort than I can usually afford to give.
Thanks to Happy Money Saver, however, I now know that ribs can be just as good on a slow cooker. The end result won’t be the same as grilled/smoked ribs though but it’s delicious, nonetheless. Moreover, it takes less effort because you won’t have to keep checking your coals or wood chips.
19. Pork tacos with fresh salsa
This one’s yet another slow-cooked pork recipe. So, if you haven’t figured it out, I love slow cooking pork. To me, it’s just convenient. I take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw for about 24 hours, throw it in the slow cooker, go out and do my normal routine, and come back to pork that’s oh so tender, juicy, and just bursting with flavor.
Southern Living details how you can make slow-cooked pork that’s perfect for tacos. Go check it out if you’re interested.
20. Garlic pork stir-fry
Last on our list is a pork recipe that (finally) isn’t slow-cooked. Nevertheless, it’s both easy and tasty.
I also like how the recipe includes peppers, garlic, and soy sauce — 3 things I love in anything that’s stir-fried — as well as a bunch of other flavor-boosting ingredients.
I highly recommend you give this a try. Head on over to Fabulessly Frugal to the full recipe.
Let me just end this by saying that freezer meals have saved me from ordering in, taking out, and skipping meals altogether countless times. They’re easy because you’ve already done the heavy lifting in advance. All that’s left is to thaw, reheat or cook, and dig in.
Having said that, I sincerely hope this sparks a change in how you handle your day-to-day nutrition. After all, food you cook at home is, most of the time, healthier than whatever else you buy outside and easy freezer meals simply makes cooking more convenient.