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!
[yumprint-recipe id=’23’]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!
[yumprint-recipe id=’24’]Individual Pizzas
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?
Wow-you are organized. Your recipes are really enticing and the food pics yummy–right now I am hungry for those waffles and pancakes. I often freeze sauces and fresh herbs in ziplock bags–they pop in the pot easily and quickly. Good luck with dinnertime and your baby!
Great ideas! Sounds like you’re really getting on top of things before the little one arrives – awesome!
Refrigerated or frozen ravioli is one of my go-to easy dinner ideas. I usually buy ones that have spinach or mushrooms in them so that I don’t even have to worry about adding a veggie to the meal, then I mix with a little olive oil & parmesan cheese… Ready in 5 minutes flat!
I used to always freeze half of any soup or chili I made – now the boys are bigger eat more!! No, I don’t freeze stuff much these days. You are so smart to have your freezer so well stocked – it will make those first few sleep deprived weeks much easier.
This is so perfect!! That way, you can cook when you feel like it…and for days when you don’t, but still want something healthy and nourishing, you have food handy in the freezer!! Great idea and yummy recipes!!
Veggie pizza is a great idea for freezing! Thank you for sharing all of these amazing recipes!! I made a lot of food before baby came and it was a great idea because I had absolutely no energy to cook (or grocery shop!!)! Turn on an oven? I could definitely do that!
Love these ideas! I always freeze soups when I make them because there’s always so much leftover. They freeze so well. Making pizza or pancakes and freezing never occurred to me. You will have a lot of meals ready for when baby comes.
Yeah! I’ve been on the same kick and feel better prepared. I don’t care about myself so much – I’ll eat the same meals – but my husband likes variety. Now I know he can go pick whatever he wants from the freezer after we have the baby and I don’t have to worry about. My favorite freezer meal is veggie soup.
I’m moving into my first big-girl apartment in December (fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong!) and I was JUST telling my mom that I need to stock my freezer with stuff like this at the beginning of the week if I have any hope at all of surviving another Chicago winter by myself haha. Thanks so much for compiling a great list like this – that tomato/mozz pasta bake and chicken enchiladas are right up my alley 🙂
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I am excited to take classes with Brittany in person this summer! I have followed Brittany online for some time. I particularly like the Barre and Pilates workout videos. Her workout techniques reflect current thinking and best practices. She supports all levels of fitness. Definitely worth a try!
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My wife and I decided to give Balance Barre Fitness a try and we were not disappointed. We thought the classes would be pretty easy but were surprised at how rigorous they were. The class was great for working on our coordination and core strength. I don't get to many ...