Today I am sharing 32 of the best freezer meals. These are the meals that I make double batches of so that I can put one in the freezer for a busy day. Knowing I have some meals in the freezer and ready to go is a great way to save a lot of time and to feel prepared for the week ahead.
For convenience, I have categorized this list of easy freezer meals. You can find casseroles, soups, healthy freezer meals, crock pot meals, and breakfasts. Use the table of contents below to click through to the topic you are looking for.
My Best Tips for Preparing Freezer Meals:
I try to keep five meals in my freezer at a time; it makes me feel like I have a head start. I keep the freezer stocked by making a double batch of homemade meals on the weekend. This allows me to slowly build a stash of meals without creating too much work for myself. I use the freezer meals if we have busy days, I am not feeling well, and when my husband is traveling. Having an extra homemade frozen meal that is ready to eat makes hectic times so much easier, and it is a healthy alternative to getting fast food.
How to Avoid Freezer Burn:
If the storage container has too much air, it can cause freezer burn. One of the best ways to avoid freezer burn is to wrap food tightly or to place in an airtight container. When making a casserole to freeze, I fill the container to the top. Freezer burn can happen when food is left in the freezer for too long, so make sure that you clearly date everything and consume it within 2-3 months.
How Long Does Food Last in the Freezer:
I like to refer to the FDA for food safety information. The answer depends on the temperature of your freezer. If your freezer is indeed 0° F (-18° C), the FDA says that food is safe indefinitely, but while it is edible, it will only stay fresh for so long. The FDA recommends storing soups, stews, meat dishes, and leftovers for no longer than 2-3 months.
If you want to get serious about freezing meals, you might want to purchase a deep freezer (also called a chest freezer). We bought a smaller chest freezer two years ago for less than $300. I truly love it since it gives me plenty of space to freeze extra meals.
What Not to Freeze:
As a general rule, I do not freeze meals that have cream-based sauces. This is because the cream can separate when it thaws.
How to Cook Frozen Meals:
Most of the meals in this list are frozen after the meat has been cooked, which means that they just need to be reheated. I reheat these meals in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. You can insert a meat thermometer into the center of the meal to make sure it is heated all the way through before removing it from the oven.
For soup, I removed the block of frozen soup from the container and place it in a pot. I heat on low and cover for about 5 minutes until some of the liquid melts. Add more broth if you feel it is necessary. Once the bottom of the pot has an inch or so of liquid, increase the heat to medium. Stir frequently to help break up and melt the frozen soup. Let the soup come to a steady simmer for at least a full minute (after it has completely thawed) before serving.
Preventing Freezer Meals from Drying Out:
For casseroles that have a sauce, I recommend adding a bit extra. Once frozen, the meal will need to cook for longer, and adding extra sauce prevents it from drying out. For a standard-sized casserole (about 9×13 inches), I add about 1/3 cup of extra sauce (tomato sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, etc).
If necessary, I add extra broth to soups since pasta or barley in a soup can soak up some of the broth.
How to Store Frozen Meals:
I like these aluminum 9×13-inch pans that have flat lids for casseroles. This way I won’t have to put a baking dish in the freezer. I think that the size and shape of the 9×13-inch pans allow me to maximize the space in my freezer. Once the meals are frozen, they stack nicely. I do not recommend stacking meals before they are frozen since the weight could crush the meals on the bottom.
For soup, I like to use a 5-cup square plastic freezer-safe container. The square shape is sturdy enough to hold soup, and it again helps to maximize space in the freezer. I like the 5-cup size since it holds two generous servings.
The Best Freezer Meals:
Taco pie is made with layers of tortillas, salsa, black beans, corn, cheese, tomatoes, and meat. I usually prepare this recipe with shredded chicken or ground beef. Taco night leftovers can easily be repurposed into this meal. The one change I make to this recipe when I am going to freeze it, is to be generous with the salsa so that it doesn’t dry out. Taco Pie is a great meal to bring to new moms since they can eat it right away or freeze it for later.
I prepare this either in an 8-inch pie pan using whole tortillas, or if I want to make a larger batch, I cut the tortillas to fit into a rectangular pan. Cook for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees (cover if necessary). I like to serve with sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice.
Veggie Pasta Bake
To make this pasta bake you start by cooking dried pasta in tomato soup! It adds so much flavor to the pasta and it’s such a fun cooking technique. Once the pasta is nearly cooked you put it in an pan and add mushrooms, spinach, and mozzarella. At this point you can pop the meal right in the freezer. This is a meal that can easily be divided up into individual servings, just use smaller oven ready pans. To cook the frozen pasta bake, place it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until hot. Keep an eye on the cheese to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
Chicken Pot Pies / Chicken Shephard’s Pie
This is a classic chicken pot pie recipe. Diced chicken and veggies like mushrooms, peas, carrots, green beans, and corn get slathered in a savory sauce and baked in a pie crust. When making this to freeze you have a couple options. You can use buy a pie crust that is already neatly in an aluminum pan (find this in the frozen dessert aisle of the grocery store) and then top it with a fresh pie crust (in the refrigerated section of the store). You can make a single crust pot pie by just adding crust to the top – this is a nice option for a larger batch that won’t fit in a pie pan. Or, you can skip the crust alltogether and top the filling with mashed potatoes to make a shephard’s pie.
You can opt to make individual portions of this meal, just use 6 inch aluminum pie pans. A standard sized 8 inch or 9 inch frozen chickent pot pie will cook in 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Keep an eye on the crust and cover with aluminum foil if necessary.
Steak and Guinness Pies / Shephard’s Pie
Inspired by a meal that I had in Ireland, this Steak and Guinness pie is a perfect comfort food meal. The cooking time is a little longer since the meat needs to slowly cook on the stove. This makes it super tender. My recipe is for smaller individual pot pies, but you can use it to make two full sized pot pies. When cooking the frozen pies, allow 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees for the pie to get hot and for the pie crust to cook. Cover the pie crust if it gets too brown.
Just like the chicken pot pie, you could definitely opt to skip the pie crust and to top this with mashed potatoes.
Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
This recipe from Aimee at Shugary Sweets is ready in an hour, just a fraction of the cooking time usually required to make this meat main dish. To prepare this meal, first mix up a sauce a homemade onion, garlic, paprila, cumin, and jalapeno sauce in the food processor. The sauce gets poured over the pork shoulder in the instant pot and cooked for 50 minutes. The last step is to quickly broil the meat in the oven to create some browned bits. This recipe is delicious over rice, in taco pie, in tacos, and in enchildadas.
Bolognese can be used to make so many meals, which is why it is a great thing to keep in your freezer. You can freeze bolgnese sauce in a large ice cube tray if you want to be able to add small amounts to individual servings of pasta. If you do this, transfer the cubes to an airtight ziploc bag once they have frozen.
Healthy Freezer Meals:
Easy Creamy Chicken Soup
This soup gets its creaminess from pureed butternut squash, a much healthier alternative to adding cream. The combination of squash and poblano peppers gives this chicken soup a balanced sweet and spicy flavors. The best thing about this recipe is that you can add your favorite vegetables. I like to add red bell pepper, poblano peppers, and corn. Mushrooms and broccoli also work well.
Be sure to check out the Soup section of this post for more healthy and delicious freezer meals.
Zucchini and Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe from Smile Sandwich is made with shredded chicken breasts seasoned with olive oil, garlic, onion, oregano, and chili powder that then gets wrapped in tortillas with sauteed zucchini and corn.
Jordan suggests storing the enchiladas in a ziploc bag and to add the enchilada sauce and a touch of cheese just before baking. This way you can cook individual servings as you need them.
Hoisin Turkey Meatballs
These turkey meatballs are seasoned with green onions, ginger, garlic, sriracha, cilantro, and soy sauce then served in a an easy homemade hoisin sauce. Jordan suggests serving these meatballs in a bowl with cooked rice, quinoa, or riced cauliflower. You can freeze the uncooked meatballs and then bake them for 25-30 minutes prior to serving.
Southwest Turkey Burgers
Turkey burgers have a reputation for being… a bit boring. But these Southwest Turkey Burgers are loaded with chopped bell pepper, poblano pepper, onion, garlic, and spices so that they are bursting with flavor. To freeze this recipe, let the vegetables completely cool in the fridge before mixing in the turkey and seasonings. After mixing, form the burger patties and place them on a small baking sheet or flat surface lined with parchment paper. Once the patties are completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag with as much air as possible squeezed out.
The patties can go straight from the freezer to the grill. Just be sure to cook them thoroughly. The internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees.
Crispy Baked Falafel
Diethood’s recipe for homemade falafel gets baked instead of deep fried, which makes this vegetarian dish much healthier. To prepare this meal, combine garbanzo beans, yellow onion, garlic, tahini, and cilantro in a food processor. Form into balls and bake. If you like, you can serve with a homemade Tahini Sauce – the recipe is in the same blog post as the falafel recipe.
When freezing falafel, bake first and then freeze them on a baking sheet. Once frozen, you can transfer them to a ziploc bag. Individual servings of falafel can be reheated at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Vegan Black Bean Burgers
Ambitious Kitchen’s gluten-free black bean burgers can be frozen before or after cooking. Monique recommends serving them with her garlic tahini sauce. The total preparation time for this meal is just 30 minutes.
Casserole Freezer Meals:
Chicken Bacon Ranch Biscuit Casserole
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole is similar to a chicken pot pie, but instead of a pastry toppping, it is topped with homemade cheddar and green onion biscuits. To prepare this meal you shred chicken and add it to a creamy ranch sauce with bacon, mushrooms, corn, and onion.
You can opt to freeze the assembled casserole with the biscuits on top, or you can just freeze the chicken filling. If you are just freezing the filling, let it thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, top with the biscuits and bake. If you are freezing the assembled casserole, it can go from the freezer to the oven, just allow for extra bake time. Bake a frozen casserole at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so.
Whenever I make ham for the holidays I end up with so much left over. Aimee’s cheesy ham, broccoli, and rice casserole can be assembled and frozen before baking! It’s the easiest way to repurpose leftovers into a new meal and to reduce food waste.
Shredded Beef Baked Chimichangas
This is one of many meals that you can make using my shredded beef recipe. These chimichangas are filled with tender spicy shredded beef, rice, refried beans, sautéed bell peppers and zucchini, tomatoes, and cheese and then baked.
Assemble this recipe, prepare it up until the point of baking. Instead of putting it in the oven, place it in the freezer. You can serve topped with queso or cheddar cheese.
Five Vegetable Lasagna
When I make this lasagna, I make a triple batch. We eat one for dinner right away, and two go into the freezer. I love this recipe because it is loaded with veggies which gives the meal a lighter taste than other lasagnas. The secret ingredients are a couple of layers of shaved zucchini, some grated carrots, and finely chopped bell pepper. The final two vegetables are spinach and tomato, which you expect to find in lasagna. If you want to make it a bit heartier, you could use a bolognese sauce instead of a marinara.
I recommend using fresh lasagna sheets since they don’t need to be boiled and can be added straight to the lasagna. Assemble the lasagna but don’t bake it. Put it right into the freezer. Once you want to cook it, bake it for about 45-60 minutes, keeping it covered so that the top doesn’t burn. We love this recipe, and I hope you do too.
Or, if you want to try another lasagna recipe, this recipe for lasagna roll ups is always a hit at dinner time.
Jocelyn’s manicotti is filled with ricotta and spinach and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Jocelyn provides a couple of different ways to prepare the manicotti shells so that they do not break making this reicpe foolproof.
Tips for Freezing Soup:
Some people like to freeze soup in a ziploc bag to save space in the freezer. The best way to do this is to pour the soup into a ziploc freezer bag labeled with the date, close it securely, and then place it on a small baking sheet or a cutting board so that it can lay completely flat. Then place it in the freezer. Once the soup has frozen, you can remove it from the baking sheet or cutting board and stack it up. If you are familiar with freezing breastmilk, the process is very similar. By freezing soup so it can lay flat, it is ready for easy stacking which saves so much space in the freezer.
Which Soups Can Be Frozen:
For best results, I do not recommend freezing cream-based soups. The cream can separate when it thaws out.
Ribollita (Italian Vegetable and Bread Soup)
This traditional Tuscan soup is similar to a minestrone with the addition of bread which breaks down and thickens the soup. At some Florence restaurants, the soup is so thick that it can be eaten with a fork.
You can make this recipe with either turkey or chicken – my family always makes it after Thanksgiving. This is a versatile recipe that can be adjusted to include your favorite veggies.
Just heat this up, make a grilled cheese, and you have the ultimate comfort food meal. My go-to tomato soup recipe is this Herb Roasted Tomato Soup recipe; roasting the tomatoes adds a depth of flavor. This is a low-fat vegetarian recipe that doesn’t contain any cream or dairy, so it freezes well.
If you want, you can add cheese tortellini to this soup. Cook the tortellini right in the soup as it simmers.
Lauren’s Pasta Fagioli can be made with crumbed Italian Sausage or without it for a vegetarian option. The secret to prevent soggy pasta is to cook it separately and to add it to the soup just prior to serving.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
My husband loves this slightly spicy soup loaded with poblano peppers, bell peppers, beans, and diced chicken. I make double batches a few times a year and you can almost always find some in our freezer. He likes to eat this for dinner if I am out of town.
Freezer Meals to Make in the Slow Cooker:
The secret to cooking meat in a slow cooker is to let it cook for a long time. I find that it takes about 6 hours of cooking on low for the meat to get fall apart tender. Often, that is too much time for weeknight dinners so I prepare these meals on the weekend. The added benefit is having an extra meal to put in the freezer for later.
Chili is one of my favorite crockpot freezer meals. Instead of using ground beef, I prefer to use chopped steak to make chili. It gets so tender, and I think it gives the meal a better taste. Chili can be enjoyed on its own or scooped on top of a baked potato (as pictured here) or macaroni and cheese. There is no right way to top chili but I like to add cheddar cheese, sour cream, and some sliced avocado.
I like to make a double batch of this recipe so that I can freeze a few servings. You can prepare this meal on the stove top or in a slow cooker. The stovetop preparation time is 2 hours, and if you use a slow cooker the cook time is 6 hours on low. To reheat frozen chili, heat it in a pot on the stovetop. Add extra broth or water if necessary.
Cilantro Lime Chicken
Aimee’s recipe for Cilantro Lime Chicken is made with healthy ingredients including black beans, tomatoes, green chilies, corn, salsa, cilantro, and lime. You can use either boneless chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs. You can serve this dish over rice or in tacos. Amy recommends freezing in gallon sized freezer bags.
Brisket Enchiladas is one of my favorite foods. These enchiladas are made with shredded slow cooked brisket, refried pinto beans, onions, and cheese topped with a red and green chile sauce. Just like the lasagna, you want to assemble the enchiladas but don’t bake them until you want to eat them. The shredded brisket can be used for tacos and meals beyond this enchilada recipe.
If I don’t want to make enchilada sauce, I recommend O Organics Chile Sauce – it is a great timesaver. If you use corn tortillas to prepare this meal, it will be gluten-free.
Meat dishes in sauces make for a good freezer meal since the sauce prevents the meat from getting freezer burn. The sirloin tips get slow cooked in a rich sauce made with bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Growing up, this was a meal that my whole family loved. We had it often.
You can prepare this meal on the stovetop (2 1/2 hours total time) or if you want to use a slow cooker, saute the vegetables and brown the meat before adding everything to a slow cooker and cooking on low for 4-6 hours. You will know it is ready when the meat is fall apart tender.
To freeze, make sure the meat is completely coated in the sauce and that you use an airtight container. Reheat in a pot on the stove until it has thawed and is simmering. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
This recipe involves slow cooking a chuck roast with onion, diced tomatos, garlic, poblano pepper, cumin, chili powder, ground red pepper, and paprika. After 6 hours the meat is tender enough to be shredded easily with forks.
Shredded Beef can be used to prepare a variety of freezer-friendly meals including taco pie, baked chimichangas, and enchiladas.
Freezer Meal Breakfasts:
Yup, you can make your own eggos! A few years ago, I was gifted a mini waffle maker and I like to use it to meal prep waffles for my toddler. You can use a waffle mix if you want to save time. I like to add in some blueberries to give the meal additional nutritional value. These reheat nicely in the toaster.
Biscuits and Gravy Casserole
Jocelyn’s Biscuits and Gravy Casserole is a comfort food breakfast made with flaky biscuits, crumbly sausage, crispy bacon, eggs, and melty cheese. This is a great meal to serve when you have houseguests. Preparing breakfast ahead of time lets you spend quality time with your guests without having to worry about cooking in the morning.
Muffins freeze well and are a perfect grab and go breakfast. You can quickly reheat them in the oven or microwave. Or, you can take them out of the freezer the night before and let them come to room temperature. A few muffin recipes that you might want to try are: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Lemon Ricotta Raspberry Muffins, and Blueberry Muffins.
Make-Ahead Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie Freezer Packs
Searching for a healthy breakfast? Jordan from Smile Sandwich breaks down the best method for freezing fresh produce and smoothie ingredients ahead of time so that you can quickly blend your smoothie together in the morning. She even has a berry banana version!
My breakfast burrito recipe is made with crumbled chorizo with sautéed onions, hash browns, black beans, scrambled eggs, and cheese – but you can easily adjust this recipe to make it your own. You could omit the chorizo for a vegetarian meal, or you could sub in sausage. Any beans and any cheese will work!
Sometimes I top these burritos with my very popular poblano cream sauce, which sadly isn’t freezer friendly, so you might want to use salsa and sour cream instead.
You can store these burritos individually in plastic bags or reusable silicone bags. Reheat in the microwave or in a toaster oven until heated through.
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Which make-ahead meals do you keep in your freezer? Do you have a strategy for building a freezer stash? Share in the comments!
Wednesday 20th of October 2021
I usually keep chili, sausage and tortellini soup, tomato soup, and French onion soup for quick meals. I also buy 8-10 pound packages of ground beef and fry it all up one day, so I get the mess out of the way all at once. Once cooled, I package it into freezer bags in 1 pound packages. If I bought 8 pounds, I divide it into 8 freezer bags. Keeping that on hand, I can create a handful of dinners in about 20 minutes each. Chili, tacos, sloppy Joe’s, pasta with meat sauce. I just start with whatever sauce I’m using and throw the cooked ground beef in to warm with the sauce. Since it’s crumbled it only takes a few minutes to thaw and heat through.
Thursday 21st of October 2021
These are all such great ideas! Thank you! Easy to make sloppy joes would be fun.