9 freezer meals for easy dinners on hectic nights
The thought of having to double up on cooking during some of the busiest weeks of the year can be daunting, especially if you’re hoping to avoid takeout. So before all the craziness sets in, do yourself a favor and make a few freezer-friendly meals that can take the pressure off future you. To help, I’m offering a variety of recipes from our archives, many of which can be divided (or scaled up) to do double duty, as dinner now and then another one or two whenever you need it. As a bonus, they’re all fairly simple to assemble.
Muffin Tin Deep-Dish Pepperoni Pizza, above. This recipe makes a dozen mini pizzas, which members of your family — kids included! — can customize any way they want. Store-bought dough and marinara help with the ease factor. You can freeze the completely baked pizzas and pull them out to reheat in the oven or toaster oven as needed.
Mango-Cranberry Chicken. You can go a few ways with this quick-cooking curry. Add the sauce to the raw chicken and freeze to be cooked later, or take the dish all the way to the end and then freeze (ideally with some rice) for an even quicker dinner.
Chunky Vegetable Soup. As a rule, soups freeze extraordinarily well, and this light, fresh, flexible and fast gem from legend Jacques Pépin is no exception. Use whatever vegetables are in season or you have on hand, and let the food processor do most of the work for you.
Picadillo. Stash a batch of Daniela Galarza’s seasoned ground beef dish to use in future tacos, empanadas and more, or just serve over whatever starch you like. The same goes for her Vegan Picadillo.
Three Cheese Pasta and Vegetable Bake. This recipe from Nourish columnist Ellie Krieger is especially well-suited to now-and-later enjoyment. Instead of making the entire 9-by-13-inch pan, divide the dish in half and make two 8-by-8-inch batches, freezing one of them. See also Baked Pasta With Vegetables and Cheese.
Black Bean Breakfast Burritos. No matter the time of year, you’ll find these burritos in my freezer. Defrost in the microwave and then crisp in the skillet for breakfast-for-dinner in a snap. I love the black beans here that I make in my Instant Pot, but you can use canned beans, no problem.
Mushroom Dumplings. If you don’t mind a little meditative assembly, Aaron Hutcherson’s pantry-friendly dumplings are a great way to go. Freeze, and just pull out as many as you need for any given meal.
Mushroom and Black Bean Burgers With Balsamic-Glazed Onions. Go ahead and double another one of Aaron’s pantry-friendly recipes, which can be dressed up with your choice of condiments, even if you don’t make the accompanying onions. Freeze the patties after shaping, and then pan-fry straight from the freezer, adding more cook time as necessary.
Lemon Chicken and Rice Casserole. This comforting casserole is another to consider doubling to eat for dinner now, and then again later.