We’ve all reached for frozen dinners at the grocery store because we didn’t have time to cook, but this is rarely ever a healthy option. Instead, why not try making your own freezer meals? Freezer meals can be absolute life-savers during a busy week and if you make them yourself, you know that they’re healthy and nutritious. We’ve rounded up some recipes that are super easy to freeze so you can make them on a slow day and enjoy them on a busy night.
This healthy, simple recipe from Regal Springs is a great option for a light freezer meal. The flavors from the garlic, hot sauce and pepper add a kick to the crunchy crust surrounding the tender Tilapia.
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 (6-ounce) Tilapia fillets
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
- 4 lemon wedges
- Combine the first five ingredients in a shallow dish. In another, mix buttermilk and hot sauce. Place flour in a shallow dish.
- Dredge one fillet in flour. Dip it in the buttermilk mixture, then dredge it in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining fillets, flour, buttermilk mixture and breadcrumb mixture.
- Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add two fillets, then cook three minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and fillets.
- Serve with lemon wedges or a sweet salsa.
To freeze this dish, let the Tilapia cool after cooking and then individually place the fillets in freezer-safe bags. To reheat, simply pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, place the fish on a baking sheet and bake for about 14 minutes.
Greek Baked Ziti
This Greek-inspired pasta casserole is a delicious comfort food that uses fresh and flavorful ingredients. A tasty medley of cheese, onions, ground beef, tomatoes and spices come together in this easy-to-freeze meal.
- 12 ounces ziti pasta
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 (15-oz.) cans tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 1 (8-oz.) package shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
- Cook pasta in a Dutch oven according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté onion in a large pan with some hot oil over medium-high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the beef and stir occasionally for another 5 minutes, until the beef is no longer pink. Drain the juices from the pan and then return to the stove.
- Add the tomato sauce, lemon juice, dried oregano, sugar, cinnamon and salt to the pan with the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook while stirring occasionally for 2 minutes before removing the pan from the stove.
- In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Once melted, add in the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, then increase the heat to medium. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, whisking constantly, then add the parmesan cheese, pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir until all the noodles are coated.
- Transfer the pasta to a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with the beef mixture, mozzarella cheese, and breadcrumbs.
To freeze this dish, cover tightly with a casserole dish lid or tin foil and place in freezer after cooling. To defrost, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, let the dish stand 30 minutes before baking and then bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Chicken Pot Pie
This chicken pot pie recipe from Taste of Home is filled with chicken, potatoes, peas and corn, so it’s sure to satisfy. This is the perfect frozen meal to keep on hand for the times that guests come over unexpectedly and you don’t know what to cook. Plus, this recipe makes two chicken pot pies, so it saves you even more time!
- 2 cups diced peeled potatoes
- 1-3/4 cups sliced carrots
- 1 cup butter, cubed
- 2/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 4 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 packages (14.1 ounces each) refrigerated pie pastry
- Place the potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan over high heat, adding enough water to ensure the vegetables are covered. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot and let the potatoes and carrots cook for 8–10 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir until the onion is tender. Then, stir in the flour, salt, thyme and pepper until the mixture is well blended. Gradually add the broth and milk, stirring constantly. Keep stirring as you bring the mixture to a boil, then cook for another 2 minutes before adding the chicken, peas, corn and potato mixture. Stir for another minute and then remove from heat.
- Unroll a pastry sheet into each of the two pie plates, then trim the pastry to ensure it is even with the rims. Add the chicken mixture, then place the remaining pastry over the filling. Trim and seal the edges and then cut slits in the top.
To freeze this meal, cover the pies tightly in tinfoil after they’ve cooled. When you’re ready to eat them, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the pies from the freezer 30 minutes before baking, then place on baking sheets with the edges covered loosely in foil. Bake for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees to cook for another 70–80 minutes.
Mexican Fish Stew
This hearty stew from the Food Network features all sorts of delicious ingredients, including potatoes, corn, fire-roasted tomatoes and cilantro. It’s a great dinner that will keep you full throughout the night without weighing you down with heavy meats or lots of carbs.
- 4 6-ounce Tilapia fillets, each cut into four pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 limes (2 juiced, 1 cut into wedges)
- 1/2 pound new potatoes, thickly sliced
- 4 small pieces frozen corn on the cob
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ancho or New Mexico chile powder
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems coarsely chopped
- 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- Season the Tilapia with salt and pepper and place it in a shallow dish. Add the lime juice to the fish and toss before setting aside. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan over high heat and cover with water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and then add the corn. Cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Save 1 cup of the cooking water and then drain.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add all but 1/3 cup of the chopped onion to the pan along with the thyme and cook for about 2 minutes.. Add the garlic, chile powder and half of the cilantro and cook while stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, corn and reserved cooking water to the skillet.
- Add the Tilapia and lime marinade to the skillet and simmer, spooning the sauce over the fish, for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
To freeze this delicious dinner, let the stew cool and then pour it into either a container (such as a washed yogurt container) or a few pint-sized freezer bags. To defrost the stew, fill your sink with cold water and put the containers or bags of stew in the sink. Once the stew has become liquid, reheat it on the stove until it has reached your desired temperature.
Finding time to cook when you’re trying to balance your family, friends, work life and relaxation time can be tough, which is why these freezer meals are a great way to save you from stress. The best part is, since you made them, you know that they’re delicious and good for you!