So I’ve heard that making dinner quickly goes onto the back burner once a new baby arrives. While I love some Indian or Thai takeout as much as the next person, I’m hopeful that we can stick to some home cooked meals at least a few nights a week to avoid excess fat, sodium and other things you consume when you get food from a restaurant. So to make things a bit easier I’ve been working on some easy freezer-friendly meals so I can just pull them out of the freezer, heat them up and voila, we have dinner! Whether you have a new baby or not, it’s nice to know that dinner can be ready quickly and that you aren’t faced with making something from scratch on a harried weeknight. Here are a few of my freezer-friendly meals!
These are so good and so easy! They are also really great if you have visitors over and need to feed a crowd. I made two kinds, this amazing pumpkin pasta bake with pumpkin puree, sage, cheddar cheese and penne (the recipe called for ziti but I had penne so…).
If you are more interested in a traditional pasta bake, I have a great one that I adapted from Ellie Krieger. It’s made with ricotta, tomato sauce and mozzarella. Simple yet delicious!
The key to making pasta bakes that freeze well is to cook them and allow them to cool completely before you freeze them. I freeze them in disposable aluminum baking dishes so I can easily reheat and then throw away the dish. That way my baking dishes are not held hostage in the fridge! When ready to eat, simple remove from freezer and place in preheated oven until warm all the way through (about one hour). For faster cooking times, defrost in fridge overnight first.
Pancakes and Waffles
Ok technically not dinner food but you need to eat breakfast too and I figured having a few staples on hand would make mornings a bit easier. I bought some frozen waffles to keep in the fridge. They are so easy to top with fruit and nuts to make a healthy, easy go-to meal. I prefer whole wheat waffles.
I made these seasonal pumpkin pancakes for breakfast and decided to double the batch so I could have extras to freeze. Besides all the health benefits from pureed pumpkin (veggies for breakfast!), they also have one secret ingredient…chia seeds! These babies have omega-3s and keep you full for a long time!
I topped these babies with some maple yogurt, maple syrup and pecans!
The best part about frozen waffles and pancakes is that they are ready so quickly. You can either microwave them or pop them in the toaster and they are ready in minutes!
What I love about enchiladas is that they are so easy to make and then freeze up well for dinner another night. I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light to make these amazing red sauce enchiladas. Once cooked, I allowed them to cool completely before dividing into twos (that’s a serving) and placing them in individual tupperwares to freeze. To reheat, simply pop them in the microwave until warm!
This one was really fun to make because I turned it into a make-your-own-pizza-night and bought a bunch of different ingredients to make a few different types of pizzas. We ended up making veggie, sausage and mushroom and fig pizzas. After cooking the pizzas, I allowed them to cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and then aluminum foil and popping in the freezer. They can be reheated in either the microwave or the oven.
I gave you guys the recipe for this last week. Chili is definitely one of those foods that becomes even more delicious the longer the flavors meld together. Plus it is just so easy to freeze and thaw!
While you can easily keep dried pasta and sauce in the panty, the advantage of frozen pasta is you can get stuffed pasta that already has great things like meat, veggies or cheese in them. It makes for a more instant, complete meal than having to make dried pasta with jarred sauce and add in some of your own veggies, meat or cheese. I tried to choose a variety like gorgonzola with walnut, pumpkin ravioli, porcini mushroom ravioli or fire roasted tomatoes with cheese. I also bought a bunch of prepared sauces (not jarred but actual prepared sauces from the cold folds section) in a few different flavors like marsala wine and mushroom, marinara, tomato and basil and arrabiata so I can mix and match the sauces with the pasta. You could definitely make your own sauce but this was just so much easier.
Readers, what’s your favorite food to freeze? Do you enjoy making big batches of food so you can have leftovers? How often do you get takeout/eat out?