Before I learned how to use my freezer, I ordered take-out all the time. There were too many times that I forgot to stop by the store on my way home from work or I came home a little bit later than I intended. When that happened, I simply had no time or energy to cook dinner. I had a hard time sticking to my diet plan until I realized that I needed a few good healthy freezer meal recipes as a backup plan.
It dawned on me – the freezer isn’t just the storage area for ice cubes, it’s also an extension of my pantry! Having a few of these healthy freezer meal recipes on hand made the difference between ditching the diet and enjoying a stress-free, home-cooked meal. So let’s take a look at some tips and tricks that will make it easy to eat healthily from your freezer.
A Beginners Guide to Home-Cooked, Healthy Freezer Meal Recipes
1. Double or Triple Recipes
If you don’t want to spend all day cooking a bunch of meals for your freezer, make it easy for yourself. You’re already cooking a delicious Broccoli Rabe and Turkey Sausage Lasagna, so why not double down and make two of them? Then, you can eat the first one for dinner and have leftovers for the next day’s lunch. The second batch will go straight into the freezer, ready to be reheated later. This is a super easy way to constantly replenish your home-cooked freezer stock.
Any lasagna will freeze well, so have some fun with your variety. Eggplant Lasagna and Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna are great vegetarian options. Mexican Style Lasagna is great for a fun twist when you don’t want to feel like you’re always eating a traditional Italian lasagna. Or, opt for Zucchini Lasagna and go gluten-free with no noodles. There’s a lasagna for every mood, so stock up that freezer!
2. Freeze Things in Appropriate Containers
You wouldn’t want to give up your 13 x 9 Pyrex baking dish for months at a time, so don’t freeze your favorite casserole in a dish that you’ll want to use sometime soon! A lot of times, I’ll buy a one-time aluminum casserole dish for re-heats that I want to serve whole. For example, I love to make an extra Blueberry French Toast Casserole and freeze it in the casserole pan. That way, when I’m ready to eat it, I can just pop the whole thing in and I have brunch for a crowd at a moments notice.
On the other hand, this White Chicken & Black Bean Casserole makes great individual lunch portions. On days where I don’t have any leftovers planned for lunch, I’ll pull a portion out and pop it in the microwave for lunch. If I had frozen that as a whole casserole dish, I wouldn’t be able to easily eat just one serving. It makes more sense to freeze each slice in a freezer bag or an airtight stackable container.
3. Consider Your Freezer Space
It’s great to freeze a whole bunch of meals, but if you don’t have space to store more food then you’ll come to regret it! This is another important reason why you shouldn’t just toss in a casserole dish. Put some thought into the size and shape of your storage containers so you’ll know what kind of space they’ll take up.
I love to store soups in large, gallon-sized freezer bags. If it seems weird to put liquid in a bag, just think about how much space you’ll save when these bags freeze flat! Creamy soups like Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup freeze just as well as chunky soups like Quick & Easy Black Bean and Lentil Soup. You can even freeze pureed vegetable soups like Slow Cooker Carrot Turmeric Soup, so bulk up on your soups for the wintertime!
4. Don’t Forget About Breakfast
Freezer meals aren’t just for lunch or dinner. There’s a whole world of breakfast out there, which is the most important meal of the day after all. So don’t forget to prepare some quick and easy reheated breakfast meals when you’re thinking about healthy freezer meal recipes.
Choices like Zucchini and Egg Breakfast Burritos make great, handheld on-the-go breakfasts. Make a whole sheet tray of them and freeze them directly on the tray. When they’re frozen, place them all in a freezer bag to store them long term. You could wrap them in aluminum foil, but then you wouldn’t be able to place them in the microwave to reheat.
Breakfast smoothie packs are another of my favorite frozen breakfast choices. Go shopping for your favorite fruits and vegetables, chop them up into blender friendly pieces, and place them in freezer bags. Freeze them flat and they’ll be ready to pull out and combine with your favorite protein powder or Greek yogurt in the morning.
5. Don’t Feel Pressured To Freeze the Entire Meal
You don’t have to freeze the entire meal, so don’t feel pressured into thinking about what you’ll want for dinner next week! It’s perfectly acceptable to freeze one component of the meal. This will give you more options and flexibility, which is especially important if you have picky eaters in the family.
Cooked meats are a really great thing to freeze. Take your favorite pulled pork or shredded chicken recipe and freeze it in two- or four-portion baggies. You can do anything you want with the precooked meat. Make your favorite tacos for Taco Tuesday. Or, toss the meat with barbecue sauce, top it off with tangy pickles, and make sandwiches. You can even make a quick sauce and toss the meat in with your favorite noodle for an easy pasta dish.
Frozen sides don’t have to be limited to meat, either. Blanch an extra side of asparagus or broccoli and toss them in the freezer. They’ll be ready to add to soups or pasta dishes at a moments notice. Similarly, you can freeze a Classic Green Bean Casserole, a few slices of Cheesy Mexican Cornbread, or Orange Glazed Roasted Carrots and you have an instant side dish to for dinner.
No matter how you choose to freeze it, going this route is the best way to keep you on track with healthy, home-cooked meals. We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for freezing food, so fire away in the comments!
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