These easy freezer meals are perfect for make ahead family dinners. Use these recipes, tips, and ideas to prepare homemade freezer-friendly meals for a month or more in advance. Just prep, freeze, reheat, and enjoy!
Make Ahead Freezer Meals
I’ve always been a big fan of freezer meals and make ahead meals. Being able to prepare food ahead of time, freeze it, and then reheat it when I need a quick family dinner on the table has been a lifesaver during busy times.
There are so many reasons to make meals ahead of time. Sometimes it’s nice to make something for friends or family that they can keep in the freezer until they need it. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to be making full dinners every night, or every week. Or maybe you just got on the meal prep trend and you need some recipe ideas.
These easy freezer meal ideas can help you prep for a month of dinners, or even longer as many recipes last for up to 3 months (or more) in the freezer. Make casseroles, soups, and even some healthy dinners to freeze and reheat. There are Crock Pot and Instant Pot recipes too, so you can make the meal prep or reheating process even easier.
This is a great time to use up your fresh foods and produce and make some freezer-friendly meals to save for later!
What You’ll Need
Here are a few tools and items that can help with preparing and storing your freezer meals:
- Freezer-friendly bags
- Durable food storage containers
- Cling wrap
- Slow cooker (great for preparing soups)
- Foil casserole pans
- Aluminum foil
How to Freeze and Store Meals
These are my top tips for turning regular recipes into freezer meals, and how to store make ahead meals in the freezer.
- Make easy to freeze meals. Casseroles, soups & chili, and baked dishes are really easy to make ahead and freeze.
- Freeze meals in individual portions. If you are preparing large portions for one or two people, portion out your food before freezing. This makes it easy to reheat food as needed. You don’t want to continuously reheat and refreeze food (it’s a hassle, plus it can cause contamination in some foods).
- Make freezer to oven casseroles. If you’re feeding a whole family, prepare casseroles and keep them in a dish, so they’re ready to go straight to the oven for reheating.
- Freeze recipes in freezer-friendly bags instead of rigid containers. You can freeze food flat (which helps it freeze and reheat more evenly), and it is easier to make room, arrange things, and keep your freezer organized.
- Don’t freeze foods while they’re still hot. Let them cool to room temperature, and/or place them in the fridge overnight before moving to the freezer.
- Portion, cut and chop up foods and ingredients the way you want to serve them. For example, chop and slice bananas and fruit, portion ground beef and meat into serving sizes. Otherwise you’ll end up with large amounts of frozen food that can’t be separated until reheated.
- Remove as much air as possible from bags and containers before sealing and freezing. This prevents freezer burn and helps food last longer.
- Label your containers so you can easily identify the food you want to reheat. Use a permanent marker and freezer tape to write recipe names on bags and containers. Otherwise you might end up with a lot of soups and casseroles that you can’t tell apart.
92+ Easy Freezer-Friendly Meals
These casseroles, soups, bakes, and other recipes can help you prepare freezer meals for a month or more in advance. Meal prep for a whole family and enjoy these easy make ahead meal ideas. You can even use your Crock Pot or Instant Pot to help make the meal prep or reheating even easier!
These casseroles are perfect to make and freeze ahead of time. They’re easy to make, easy to reheat, and they can feed a whole family!
Make Ahead Pasta Meals
These classic Italian dishes and pastas are so comforting! Make these and freeze them for easy dinners later on.
Freezer-Friendly Soups & Chili
Soups and chilis are one of the best freezer meals. You can easily make these dishes in large batches, then freeze and save for months!
Crockpot Freezer Meals
These recipes can be prepped in the slow cooker ahead of time, frozen for months, and then reheated in your crock pot to serve. Such an easy way to make freezer-friendly meals!
Instant Pot Freezer Meals
You can make all kinds of freezer-friendly meals with an Instant Pot, including soups, chilis, pastas, and more. Get your meals prepped and ready to freeze in a flash!
More Meals to Freeze
Just a few more super easy and delicious meal ideas you can make ahead and keep in the freezer.
Do you cook freezer meals before freezing?
This depends on the recipe and what you’re making. Check through the recipe you’re using to see if it mentions special freezing instructions and follow that.
If instructions aren’t included, here are some things to keep in mind before deciding to cook before or after freezing.
- Soups will usually be cooked and heated through before freezing.
- Casseroles are often best prepared and frozen BEFORE baking. However, if there’s no meat, you can usually get away with not cooking it first.
- If the recipe includes meat, you should cook the meat before freezing. So if ingredients are all combined before you place it in the freezer, make sure the meat has been cooked through.
- If you want freezer meals that just require reheating instead of cooking, you’ll want to make sure it’s been cooked before freezing.
How to Reheat Freezer Meals
When you’re ready to reheat any of your freezer meals, it’s best to thaw them first. So if you plan a bit ahead, move the meals you want to eat into the fridge, and let them defrost for 24-48 hours. Then you can simply cook or reheat each one before serving.
Reheated foods (previously cooked) should generally be heated to an internal temp of 165F. If you are cooking an uncooked casserole/meal, follow the original recipe instructions.
If you don’t have time to thaw, you can defrost in the microwave, or just add some extra cooking time when heating in the oven. Make sure everything is cooked through before serving (the middle is usually the last to defrost).
What foods don’t freeze well?
There are a few ingredients that don’t freeze/reheat particularly well on their own. Cheese, cream and dairy, cooked rice or pasta…these are typically considered “bad for freezing”.
Luckily, any potential problems can be solved with some simple tweaks to the recipe. And I’ve generally found that when foods are cooked into a casserole or bake, the quality issues aren’t noticeable. Here are a few things you can do.
- Things like cheese and cream can be mixed into a recipe upon cooking/reheating. If a recipe calls for shredded cheese as a final layer, add it afterwards. If a soup calls for cream, stir it in as you reheat.
- Slightly undercook any rice or pasta (cook it al dente) so that it doesn’t get soggy when reheating.
- If it makes sense for the recipe, freeze it before cooking, and you can avoid those reheating issues.
How long do these freezer meals last?
Most freezer meals will keep for about 3 months. Any longer than that, and the quality starts to degrade quickly. I recommend eating within 2 months for the best quality!
I really hope these easy freezer meals can help you in the upcoming weeks and months. It’s always good to have some make ahead dinner recipes on hand no matter the circumstances, but I hope these can be extra useful right now for you and your families!
Make Ahead Meal Prep
Find more recipes, meal prep ideas, and cooking tips to help make meal time easy!