How To Make Your Favorite Meals Freezer Ready

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Hi everyone, I’m going on a trip to California this week for the DOLE Salad’tude Summit! Please welcome my guest, Once A Month Mom! 

Once A Month Mom is a website that helps you fill your freezer by creating monthly menus using seasonal recipes. And what greater help to someone trying to stay on track in the health and weight department than to have homemade, ready-made meals awaiting them in their freezer? It is the next best thing to fresh! Once a Month mom will show you how to take a few popular Skinnytaste classics and get them freezer ready!

One walk down your grocer’s freezer case and you will find a multitude of items awaiting you. Low-calorie options are available, but even those can be full of preservatives and ingredients that can be unhealthy and add unnecessary calories. Making the food yourself, especially tasty food like you find here on Skinnytaste, ensures that you know the ingredients going into your food and control those ingredients.

And don’t worry! Just because you freeze it, doesn’t mean you zap all the flavor out of it. Freezing your food also doesn’t mean that you have to stick to just casseroles and pastas. There are a world of things that you can prepare easily and freeze just fine. And the food keeps for 1-3 months, so if life gets busy, you don’t waste your efforts.
 
Day in and day out I hear from my readers that one of the most challenging aspects of staying on track with a healthy diet is having healthy meals at the ready when the hunger pangs hit. Isn’t this the greatest moment of weakness? When you pull open the drawer, the refrigerator or your purse and find that there is nothing healthy that is going to satisfy your hunger. What happens next? Usually it’s a trip to the vending machine, the “snack cupboard,” the drive-thru or your favorite local restaurant. This solves the immediate problem but does nothing for your waistline.

Let’s take a few recipes for example…

 

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

These are great for freezing because you can choose to individually freeze them or freeze them as a finished dish ready for the oven.

  1. Individually frozen – Follow the assembly directions but instead of preparing it in a 9×13 pan, skip to assembling the rolls and then flash freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them gently in a freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Place 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan (or adjust if making a smaller portion), place frozen lasagna rolls in the dish. Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake at 350 for 60 minutes (1.5x the originally listed bake time), or until cheese melts.
  2.  Casserole-style freezingFollow the assembly directions completely but do not preheat the oven. Once covered with foil, instead of baking the dish, place it in the freezer to freeze. To serve: Thaw in the refrigerator for 36-48 hours before serving, and follow the baking directions exactly. OR leave frozen and bake dish for 60 minutes (1.5x the originally listed bake time), or until cheese melts.

    Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets

    Chicken Nuggets are great to have on hand for a quick lunch, for yourself of for your kids. I prefer freezing them already baked so that you can simply reheat them in the microwave or in the oven when you desire them.

    To freeze – Follow the directions given to completion, baking the chicken nuggets. Allow them to cool and then transfer them to a cookie sheet or large surface covered in wax paper and flash freeze. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), place them gently in a freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Place chicken nuggets on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until warmed through. OR microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through.

    Turkey Zucchini Burgers

    This is another great recipe that has two options for freezing, uncooked and cooked. My preference for freshness would be to freeze them raw and then cook/grill them on the day you want them, but if you are looking to have a Skinnytaste meal on the go, cooking/grilling them beforehand is also a great method.

    1. UncookedPrepare burger patties as directed. Instead of cooking them as directed, stack them placing a small piece of wax paper between each one or individually wrap them in plastic wrap. Place stacked/wrapped burgers in a gallon freezer bag and freeze. To serve: Thaw. Remove wax paper or plastic wrap. Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, lightly spray oil. Add burgers to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook on one side until browned, then flip. Flip over a few times to prevent burning and to make sure the burgers are cooked all the way through. If grilling, clean grill well before cooking and spray with oil spray to prevent sticking.
    2. CookedPrepare as directed to completion. Allow them to cool and then transfer them to a cookie sheet or large surface covered in wax paper and flash freeze. Once they are mostly frozen (30 minutes to 1 hour), stack them with a piece of wax paper in between or wrap them in platic wrap and place them gently in a freezer bag and freeze. To Serve: Reheat in microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

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    104 comments

    1. I am getting to do some meal prep in anticipation of our first baby being born. I’ve flagged and bookmarked mostly soups and casserole recipes of yours. Just wanted to clarify – I would follow the instructions of prep but just not cook them correct? Before cooking I would put them in freezer friendly containers and then when ready thaw and bake according to the recipe? Thanks so much! Love your recipes and this is my first time freezing meals in advance!

    2. My question is about the lasagna rolls.  The receipt calls for frozen chopped spinach.  However, the picture looks like fresh spinach.  Is it ok to thaw frozen spinach and then refreeze it without cooking first?

    3. So, my question is this: I just made a list of your freezer friendly meals that included recipes like the sicilian rice casserole and chili mac. Would I want to make these as directed and then instead of baking in the over, freeze them instead once any cooked ingredients have cooled? Then bake in oven either from frozen state or thawed from freezer? I appreciate the guidance because I am about to have a baby and want my freezer stocked full of your delicious, macro friendly meals.

    4. Hi – with the lasagne rolls, if i freeze them individually and then only use 3 in a dish to cook – how long should they be in the oven for? will the smaller sized oven dish change the time?

    5. I know this is an old thread but I have a whole turkey from work and wonder if anyone has any ideas of prep ahead healthy meals I can make with a whole turkey.

    6. can you freeze a meatloaf raw

    7. Am I correct in thinking you used fresh spinach in the freezable lasagna rolls?

    8. I love this recipe. Found this from Pinterest. I love freezing home cook meal. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    9. I missed this one – thank goodness for Pinterest 🙂 what a great post!! I never thought to make lasagna rolls & freeze like that – so smart!

    10. Such a genius and helpful post Gina!

    11. Love your site, Gina. Would love to see more ideas for making your recipes freezer-ready. I know OAMM has tons, but can't afford to pay for it, and also don't always like all of them in the meal plans.

    12. WOW this site is amazing!!

    13. I baked this from frozen and it took one hour at 350 and another hour at 375 before it was barely warm.

    14. I love to make your white bean chicken stuffed peppers and freeze them. I steam the peppers until halfway tender, stuff and set in a small baking dish. Put in the freezer until solid, then stick the peppers in a freezer bag until I need them. To reheat, I lay them in a baking dish in an inch or two of ff chicken broth, cover with foil and bake. Its the easiest weeknight dinner and its a great time saver for me! I also do your cuban pork and package in smaller freezer bags. My husband loves those cuban quesadillas for lunches so we pull a bag out to thaw for the week and he can have his cubans when he wants them 🙂

    15. This entry is so helpful. I'm always confused on the proper way to freeze food. If you only one spinach roll, how long should you bake it?

    16. any way to freeze those banging shirmp?

    17. Great tips, and so fun to have two of my favorite blogs in one post!

    18. LOVED THIS!!! Thank you, Gina!

    19. I look forward to seeing more of these posts. I've always wantd to know how to properly freeze homemade food. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

    20. I've just started on Weight Watchers and was looking for some good lower calorie, healthy recipes and am thrilled to find your website. A brief look so far and I've identified several recipes that I will definitely try. All the recipes look delicious and satisfying and make it seem that its not diet food at all. Thanks so much for coming up with and sharing all these great recipes and ideas.