Healthy Freezer Meals

Freezer meals can be a lifesaver at any time of day. Learn what to freeze (and how to freeze it) for an easy, delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Freezer meals

On busy nights, freezer meals are the first thing I turn to in order to get a quick, wholesome, and delicious dinner on the table. This might come as a surprise, as frozen food can get a bad rap as boring, mushy, or bland. While I’m not a fan of processed frozen dinners, I often freeze the soups, stews, and casseroles I make at home. Stored and reheated the right way, they’re just as flavorful as they were the day they were made. And when I have a freezer full of nourishing homemade meals, there’s no reason to eat out or order in. The easiest, tastiest options are the ones I’ve already prepped and frozen!

Below, you’ll find my 5 favorite types of freezer meals, along with my best tips for storing and reheating them. So make a big batch of one of these 50+ freezer meal recipes, and freeze the leftovers for another day. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!

Lentil soup

Soup Freezer Meals

Without question, soups are the freezer meals I have on hand most often. I reach for them when I want a quick lunch in the middle of a workday, when we’re returning from a trip, or when I’m craving a healthy, warming dinner but don’t have time to cook.

When you want to freeze soup, allow it to cool completely before freezing it in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Transfer them to the fridge to thaw overnight and reheat the soup on the stove, or defrost frozen soup in the microwave. Nearly all of my favorite soup recipes freeze well, but to get you started, here are a few of the soups I freeze most often:

Healthy Freezer Meals White bean chili

Stew Freezer Meals

Soup’s heartier cousin, stew is another of my favorite freezer meals. Allow it to cool completely before you store it in airtight, freezer-safe containers or Mason jars in your freezer. Again, defrost it in the microwave, or allow it to thaw in the fridge before reheating it on the stove.

On any given day in winter or fall, I have a stash of at least one of these hearty stews in the freezer:

Easy Baked Ziti

Casserole Freezer Meals

If you want to be prepared to serve a crowd, casseroles are the freezer meals for you! Assemble an entire casserole and freeze it before baking. Alternatively, if you want to have single portions on hand, bake any casserole and allow it to cool. Then, slice it, and freeze the individual slices.

To reheat an entire frozen casserole, cover it with foil and bake for about 1 hour at 350, or until warmed through. To brown the cheese on top, uncover the dish for the last 20 minutes of baking. If the cheese is getting too browned before the middle is thawed, simply cover it back up and continue to bake. Reheat individual slices in the microwave (the timing will depend on your microwave) or in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

Healthy Freezer Meals

Veggie Patties and Balls

Veggie patties and balls are great single-serving freezer meals, though of course, you can reheat as many as you need to serve a group. Oftentimes, I make a double batch of these types of recipes to keep on hand in the freezer. They reheat perfectly, and I love the satisfaction of cooking once and eating (at least) twice!

Freeze veggie patties and balls after you bake them. To reheat, bake them again for 20 to 25 minutes at their original baking temperature, or until they’re warmed through and the edges are slightly crisp.

Freezer meals

Freezer Meal Components

If I want to toss together hearty salads or buddha bowls throughout the week, having cooked grains, legumes, or other plant-based proteins on hand in the freezer is a life-saver. Here’s how I freeze them:

  • Baked Tofu and Tempeh
    Follow these recipes from start to finish, marinating and baking the tofu or tempeh. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. To reheat, bake the frozen tofu or tempeh for 15 to 20 minutes at 425.
  • Cooked grains or legumes like Brown Rice, Farro, Quinoa, or Lentils
    First, cook the grains or lentils and allow them to cool slightly. Spread them in a thin layer on parchment-lined baking sheet and carefully place the baking sheet in your freezer. Freeze for at least two hours to prevent the grains from clumping together. Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or freezer bag for longer storage.

Pesto Recipe

Pasta sauce and pizza dough are also great cooking components to freeze. Here’s how I do it:

  • Pesto
    Freeze it in small containers or ice cube trays so that you can defrost the perfect amount for whatever you’re making! When you’re planning to use pesto, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Tomato sauces like Marinara or Pizza Sauce
    Allow them to cool completely before freezing them in freezer-safe containers. Let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or defrost them in the microwave.
  • Pizza Dough
    Prepare the dough through its final rise, stopping right before you’d stretch it to fit your pizza pan. Then, freeze it for up to a month. When you’re ready to use it, transfer frozen dough to the fridge to thaw overnight. Once it’s thawed, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour until it becomes pliable.

Freezer meals

Easy Freezer Meals for Breakfast

When you have to run out the door in the morning, there’s nothing better than having a frozen stash of quick breads, muffins, or pancakes at the ready. To make quick bread an easy grab-and-go breakfast, freeze it in individual slices. Transfer them to the fridge to thaw overnight, or pop frozen bread slices, pancakes, or muffins in the microwave.

If we’re leaving super early to go to the airport, I’ll grab frozen muffins or scones straight from the freezer. After an hour or so, they’ll have thawed, so they’re a perfect travel breakfast or snack.

Healthy Breakfast Smoothies

Smoothies are another great breakfast to prep and freeze ahead of time. Freeze individual smoothie packs with fresh fruit, veggies, and superfood add-ins. In the morning, blend the frozen ingredients with juice, nut milk, or oat milk to make a healthy, energizing breakfast.

More Favorite Meal Planning Ideas

If you love these freezer meals, check out my easy dinner ideas, healthy lunch ideas, and best meal prep tips for more meal planning inspiration!

Freezer Meals: Freezer-Friendly Veggie Soup

rate this recipe:
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, diced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine, optional
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • cups chopped kale

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Add the carrot and sweet potato, stir and cook 2 more minutes.
  • Add the wine, if using, and cook for about 30 seconds to reduce by half, then add the canned tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the cherry tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, chickpeas, and cover and cook 10 to 15 more minutes, until the green beans are tender.
  • Stir in the vinegar, kale, an additional ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste), and more pepper.

7 comments

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  1. Trish
    02.16.2020

    This post is everything. I have both of your books. And this is super helpful in terms of motivating me to do some batch cooking. I just got some two cup and one cup silicone freezer trays and now the inspiration to fill them!

  2. Nausheen from tastedrecipes.com
    02.17.2020

    This post is very helpful. And can I store food in a plastic bag or anything else?

  3. next full moon
    02.17.2020

    5 stars
    I tried a sweet potato at thanksgiving and the kitchen aid spiralizer wouldn’t work. Which size did you use?
    Looks delicious !

  4. lucie
    02.18.2020

    Thank you for this, very very helpful!

  5. Yrsa
    08.09.2020

    I freeze my soups in glass jars, that are leftover. Just don´t fill them to the rim, that way they are easy to carry to work and is like 1 portion. Thanks for your blog, really useful.

  6. Jenny Rohr
    09.30.2020

    How long do the frozen meals keep? Prepping for my first baby, thanks !

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.06.2020

      Hi Jenny, I generally keep things for up to 2 months in the freezer.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.