Fancy Dinners From Your Freezer?

Our Best Make-Ahead Meals

These freezer meals aren’t your typical recipes. They’ve been elevated to make your weeknight meals extraordinary; no one will know they’re freezer meals!

You just got home from work. As you slip off your heels on the way to the kitchen, your stomach rumbles and you start running through the list of meals you know by heart in your head. As you open the fridge to scour for food, you realize you don’t have half the ingredients you need. Sounds like it’ll be another spaghetti night for you and the family…

Sound familiar? This was my everyday life when I was heavy in the corporate world. Despite my love for food, I could never quite pull together the classy level of dinners I so desperately craved after a long day at the office. Instead I would end up resigning myself to spaghetti, mac and cheese or grilled cheese with tomato soup in a constant rotation. So it went until I discovered the ease, creativity, and deliciousness of freezer meals. Say goodbye to the weeknight dinner blues, folks. It’s time to start eating like a five-star food critic every single night!

7-16 Food_Make Ahead_web4Tips

  • Don’t grocery shop and prep on the same day. Get your list together and shop, then save the prep for another day or you’ll overdo it!
  • Split any of these meals into two or three freezer bags for smaller portions!
  • Label your bags with meal names and dates for easy access. If you want to be super-efficient, label each bag with the cooking instructions so you don’t have to go searching for the recipe. Use name brand freezer bags. As much as you are tempted to save money, the cheap ones often rip.

Whether you’re feeding just yourself or a huge family, freezer meals get addictive! You’ve been warned…


Garlic Spinach Beef Stroganoff

7-16 Food_Make Ahead_web1Serves 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

  • 2 pounds stew beef, cut into small chunks
  • 1 pound sliced white button mushrooms
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 2 bouillon cubes of beef stock
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 (10 ½ ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained

Combine beef, mushrooms, white onion, garlic, red wine, bouillon cubes, and water in a large zip top freezer bag. Shake the bag to combine ingredients. Freeze until ready to cook.

Dump the bag contents into a slow cooker and cook for 6 ½ hours on low. Stir in sour cream, cream of mushroom soup, and spinach. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving idea: spoon onto egg noodles or rice.


Sweet & Spicy & Smoky Pulled Pork

7-16 Food_Make Ahead_web2Serves 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 7 hours

  • 2½ to 3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon paprika

Add all of the ingredients to a large freezer bag. Shake the bag to combine ingredients. Freeze until ready to cook.

Dump the bag contents into a slow cooker and add ½ cup of water. Cook for 7 hours on low. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork to a large bowl. Shred the pork using two forks and serve immediately.

Serving ideas: serve over rice, or as pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw and pickles. Make it a taco night with cojita cheese, red cabbage, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, and corn tortillas as pictured here!


Coconut Curry Chicken & Potatoes

7-16 Food_Make Ahead_web3Serves 6

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound golden potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 (13 ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine chicken, potatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, one can of coconut milk, red curry paste and salt in a large freezer bag. Shake the bag to combine ingredients. Freeze until ready to cook.

Thaw the bag for 45 minutes before you are ready to cook. Dump the bag contents into a slow cooker and add more coconut milk (about half a can, or add the whole thing if you like your curry a little thinner). Cook on low for 8 hours. Serve immediately.

Serving idea: ladle alongside jasmine rice with fresh chopped cilantro and chopped cashews.

By Meghan Bassett

Author: Living Magazine

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