Let's Love to Cook Freezer Food

All things FREEZER FOOD!

Let’s talk freezer food!

Whether you’re cooking a freezer meal for friends who are welcoming a new baby, relative’s who have a meal train after a family emergency or you’re simply wanting to stock your own freezer with some dinners (hint, you should!), freezer meals are an unsung hero in the kitchen!

I’m going to share my tips and tricks for freezer meals, as well as a list of my go-to’s. The season of life I’m currently in, I’m making a lot of freezer meals for my own family and for friends having babies so that’s what comes to my mind when writing this!

Let’s start with tips and tricks:

  • Make one, freeze one” is a motto of mine. My family of 4 will not be able to eat a 9x13 pan of lasagna, not even in a few days eating leftovers, that’s just too much food for us! So what I do is split those larger 9x13 freezer meal recipes in half into 2 8x8 pans. I cook one on the spot for our own dinner that night and the other one goes into the freezer, for another night or to gift to someone! If you’re making a freezer meal for friends with 0-2 children, I would say an 8x8 dish would be a great size for them as well! Just like a 9x13 is too much food for my family to thaw and eat in one sitting, it might be too much for their family too. When it comes to freezer food, a lot of people would rather finish the dish and miss out on leftovers!

  • I freeze almost all meals BEFORE cooking, when possible. I find that cooking meals twice is what leads to them being dried out and crunchy, especially if they’re “casserole-style.” I get this question a lot, “do you freeze before or after baking!?” and I almost always do before! Just about any freezer meal can be frozen prior to cooking.

  • I make all my freezer meals in disposable, foil pans and cover mine with two layers of aluminum foil OR I store in freezer Ziploc bags. For the foil pans, I”ll sometimes do a layer of plastic then the foil to prevent spilling, but if you do this, be sure to write on the cover that there is plastic, it has to be removed prior to cooking! For the freezer bags, I lay everything as flat as possible to take up minimal room. This all makes for easy clean-up for yourself or whoever you’re gifting a meal to. I also really like these heavy-duty, reusable aluminum pans called "Pantainers."

  • On the cover of the freezer meal foil or plastic bag, I write the name of the dish, the date I made it, reheating instructions (detailed for friends) and any food allergies/sensitivities. For example, my son is allergic to eggs and nuts so I write “EF/NF” for egg-free, nut-free. A friend of mine knows she needs to go dairy-free after having her baby, so I write “DF” on her meals for dairy-free. This leads me to my next point!

  • If you’re cooking freezer meals for other people, try to find out if they have any food sensitivities, allergies or dietary preferences! If you’re cooking something for a meal train, someone will usually post if the meal recipients have any. If you’re cooking for friends, send them a quick text “I’m making a little freezer dinner for y’all to have on hand after baby comes, wanted to check to see if you have any dietary preferences or allergies/sensitivities!” They might not and you can make anything you want, but I think the thought to check is always appreciated by those who do have sensitivities. Many mama’s have to take a little break from dairy when nursing their newborn to reduce baby tummy troubles; I had to give up dairy after both of my children were born. Going into my third pregnancy, I know I will probably need to take a little dairy break postpartum! Some dairy-free freezer meals are on my list to make and I take that into consideration for expectant friends as well.

  • I think there can definitely be a balance of healthy and comfort food for freezer meals, but freezer meals are meant to be comforting! This is not the time to try to find your best Gwyneth Paltrow Goop freezer recipe. Maybe you find a “lightened-up” version of something or, again, make a dish that’s gluten-free or dairy-free, but don’t feel like you have to bring your friends something that’s lean, clean and green. Freezer meals are there to be a hearty, cozy, comforting saving grace of a meal in a time of need! Whether that time of need is you couldn’t get to the grocery store this week, you’re mourning a loved one or you’re in the early stages of postpartum and can’t remember what day it is (although I’m well beyond PP and I forget what day it is regularly….). If you want to make some freezer bone broth, great! I love doing that. If you want to use organ meat in a enchilada dish, awesome! If you’re making a casserole with a block of cream cheese and cream of chicken something, wonderful! I have no doubt it will be enjoyed. Don’t stress over calories or ingredients or what you think you “should” do, whoever is on the receiving end of the freezer meal will be grateful for whatever it is!

  • Something I love to do for new parents is make an Italian-inspired freezer meal such as Lasagna, Italian Meatballs, Baked Rigatoni or Spaghetti and deliver it with a nice bottle of red wine, a box of pasta (if needed to pair with the dish) and a card with best wishes. Your friends can have a little “date night” at home! Okay, maybe not quite a date night but it makes the freezer meal feel a little more special in the moment. For spaghetti or meatballs, I like to deliver a box of pasta so they have it in their pantry, no need to go to the store!

  • If you’re reheating a freezer meal and find it to be a little dry, add some chicken broth to it! Liquid can help and broth will add flavor without watering it down.

  • If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’m big on fresh herbs! I think they’re an easy way to make any dish taste really fresh and give it a little “boost,” and that applies to freezer meals too. Even if you’re making a simple freezer meal, add some fresh herbs to the dish! It will taste great once reheated and make it feel like it was made fresh that day!

  • Desserts count as freezer food! One of my favorite things to do is freeze cookie dough. Let’s say I’m making a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I bake a dozen on the spot for us to enjoy, and then I freeze the remaining dough so I can make cookies on the fly another day! You could also bake everything at once and then freeze some of the baked cookies. I just like to have them fresh out of the oven! I wrap my dough in some parchment paper or wax paper then put it in a Ziploc freezer bag. When I’m ready to make more cookies, I just pull the dough out of the freezer! This comes in handy when we get a chocolate chip cookie craving mid-week. It’s also a healthier alternative to buying pre-made cookie dough; from-scratch has cleaner ingredients!

  • Don’t forget about breakfast and snacks either! Items like breakfast sandwiches, breakfast casseroles, breakfast tacos, muffins, scones and more are all great to keep stocked in the freezer. If you’re wanting to bring freezer food to a friend welcoming a new baby and she has older children at home, consider bringing her some muffins for the kids or some pre-made breakfast tacos. Personally, for me, when we had our second, breakfast was the hardest for me! Hayes would wake up ready to eat, I had probably just fed the baby or was getting ready to again, and I felt so scrambled doing breakfast and it was hard for me to make time for myself to eat it. My sister loves prepping a batch of freezer breakfast sandwiches for her and her husband to eat throughout the week. Healthier than a drive-thru version and more convenient to already have at home!

Phew that was a lot! Here is a list of freezer meals from A Month of Dinner: Vol. 1-3 and The Seasonal Recipe Collection:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chicken Pot Pie Pasta (you can freeze this, just add a little broth when reheating)
  • Asian Pork Meatballs
  • Mom’s Mac N’ Cheese (a go-to freezer meal for me!)
  • The Best Brownies
  • Pesto
  • Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders (a go-to! These are great for families with multiple children, easy to pack leftovers in lunches)
  • Beef Taco Skillet (freeze this and serve with all the toppings after reheating)
  • Berry Cobbler
  • Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins
  • Lamb Burgers (I freeze extra patties)
  • One-Skillet Beef Fajitas (you can easily cook the meat and veggies and freeze it! Reheat and serve with tortillas and toppings)
  • Good Ol’ Spaghetti (I always have some in my freezer!)
  • Chocolate Coffee Cookies
  • Easy Beef Stir Fry (cook then freeze and reheat to serve with rice or noodles)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
  • Tex-Mex Style Enchiladas (a go-to freezer meal for me!)
  • Italian Meatballs
  • Cowboy Cookies
  • Baked Rigatoni (another great go-to)
  • No-Bake Scotcharoos
  • Chicken Pesto Ravioli
  • Wanna-Be Beef Bourguignon
  • Chicken & Dumplings
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Corn Chowder
  • Rosemary Honey Beer Bread
  • Chicken Spaghetti
  • Short Rib Ragu
  • Bacon, Gruyère and Chive Egg Bites
  • Holiday French Toast Bake
  • Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole
  • Orange Scones
  • Crab Cake Bites
  • Lasagna
  • One-Pot French Onion Soup (freeze without the bread and cheese on top, add when you reheat)
  • Gruyère Scalloped Potatoes
  • Lightened-Up Simple Stuffing
  • Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
  • Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
  • Gingerbread Bars (without frosting)
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookies

And here are just a few recipes from the blog:

As a mom of two little ones and expecting our third, postpartum freezer food is fresh on my mind! I thought I’d share some things I plan to make for our own freezer ahead of baby 3:

  • Oatmeal breakfast bars for my kids.
  • Muffins for my kids to have as snacks or even breakfast.
  • Breakfast tacos for myself and my husband for breakfast. I plan to do some variation of egg + cheese + protein, wrap in foil and I can reheat in the oven (we don’t have a microwave)
  • Bone broth. Is my crunchy side showing!? Bone broth is so nutritious and wonderful to drink postpartum.
  • No-Bake Energy Bites” for myself and for the kids. You can add Brewer’s Yeast to make them lactation bites, but I’ll probably skip that and just leave them as energy bites we can all have as a snack. They’re still great for lactation sans yeast!
  • A variety of dairy-free dinners. Since I had to take a dairy break with both Hayes and Hallie, I plan to with baby 3 and I’m going to have dishes prepared that don’t have dairy. I feel like you have a little window the first 2-3 weeks where you don’t necessarily have to go dairy-free, but then around week 3-4, babies tummies start getting sensitive and that’s usually when I go DF. This is just my experience!!
    • Tex-Mex Enchiladas but skip the cheese, my husband can add some to his when I reheat
    • Spaghetti.
    • Different meatballs, such as Italian meatballs (but skip the parmesan) and Teriyaki, which my kids absolutely love.
    • Beef Stew and/or Beef Bourguignon. My family loves beef stew and while it isn’t “sexy,” it always tastes so good! It has so much flavor and I really try to eat plenty of red meat protein postpartum.
    • Chicken Pot Pie or Chicken Pot Pie Pasta but made with dairy-free milk.
    • Homemade bread of some kind for sandwiches, I eat a lot of sandwiches postpartum because they’re easy to make and I eat them with one hand, ha! I always include things like hummus, tomato, onion and greens for some veggies and fiber in addition to meat.
    • Beef Taco Skillet all prepped, just have to reheat and let the family add their toppings such as cheese, sour cream, guac, salsa, etc.
    • Chili and Cornbread, easy to reheat, protein, cornbread can be made dairy-free and my kids enjoy it. Yes, we will be sweating eating it in peak Texas summer, but something is better than nothing!
    • Pesto! I love to keep pesto on hand to easily spice up some pasta or sandwiches. I skip the pine nuts so that my son can have it too.
  • Mom’s Mac N Cheese, my kid’s love this and it will really be more for them than me!
  • Oven-Baked Taquitos, another winning dish with my family and also easy to pick up and eat while holding a baby.
  • Ham & Swiss sliders, these are not dairy free and my son can’t have them, but they are easy to pull out when we have family over visiting or if Kolton and I need something easy eat ourselves in the very easy days. I should say that our family always brings us food when they visit!! But for those later days, it’s nice to have a crowd-pleaser on hand.
  • Cookies! Cowboy Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies are my favorites to keep in the freezer.

There are so many wonderful freezer meals out there to choose from! Simply search “freezer food ideas” on Google and you’ll find endless ideas. This book on Amazon with 150 freezer meals has great reviews if you need more ideas. I hope this post is helpful for you!