Make Ahead for the Freezer

A menu of some of my favorite (over 50) make ahead meals (or portions of), sides and other items that freeze well. Click on the tag “freezes well” when you see it on a recipe – it will lead you to others! Note: When storing in plastic, only fill plastic with cooled to room temperature ingredients and don’t reheat food items in plastic unless it is specially formulated to be used in such a manner.

Appetizers

Gourgere thumbnailGougere: These (and any) White Cheddar Gougere freeze, unbaked, very well. The can be baked off in 20 minutes for surprise company and are great for a party. Talk about convenience food!

Potato Skins xPotato Skins: Left over potato skins can be thrown in the freezer to make baked or fried potato skins. Freeze them solid then package, and they’re better if not thawed before being baked or fried.

Pita Chips xPita Bread: If we don’t use all of our Pita Bread, I chuck it in the freezer to make Pita Chips with later. Even if it’s stale. These marvelous chips are even better with dried out bread.

Smoked Salmon Cheesecake xSmoked Salmon Cheesecake: A savory cheesecake perfect for a party. A blend of smoked salmon & cheeses, it’s no-fuss, doable and make ahead, creamy and delish! It freezes beautifully, too.

Beverages

Fruits & Berries: I keep a Ziploc on hand in the freezer and if I have fruits that might otherwise perish, I lay them out in the freezer and then gang them up after they’re frozen. They go in smoothies.

Whipped Cream xWhipped Cream for the Freezer: Whip some up (or use extra from a dessert) and dollop onto plastic. Freeze until firm, then store. Flavor as you wish. No waste, no additives.

Frozen FrappeFrozen Coffee Frappes: While I don’t freeze the whole frappe, I make sure I have left over coffee stashed away in my freezer to make these at a moment’s notice. These are seconds to whip up and great to make anytime, but impressive.

Green Smoothies xMy Big Fat Green Smoothies: While I don’t freeze the smoothies, mine come in at a budget and I often use parts of items normally destined for the trash or compost. If I have too much, I freeze.

Pumpkin Spice Latte xPumpkin Spiced Lattes: Any left over pureed pumpkin gets put into ice-cube trays and frozen for pumpkin spice lattes when we’re ready to make them. So fantastic!

Breads

Many breads & doughs freeze very well and make great home-made convenience foods. Rolls, breads, doughs, pizza dough and so on.

Reheating or baking depends on the item. Most items fare well thawed overnight in the fridge. Small items are often best wrapped in a damp napkin or towel and microwaved.

croutons1-xStale Bread: Freeze old bread for bread crumbs, croutons, bread pudding. If it becomes too hard to work with soften in a damp towel in the microwave or feed the birds.

big beautiful muffinsBig, Beautiful Muffins: These may be frozen before being baked or after. Simply proceed with the recipe or reheat in a napkin or clean towel in the microwave. Many variations here for the best muffins.

Beer Cheese Bread3Beer Cheese Bread: Simple to make, this is also a great bread to make in multiples, bake and toss in the freezer for a rainy day. Why not double your time and effort? Reheats beautifully.

Bread Crumb1 xBread Crumbs: Often in my freezer are packages of fresh and toasted bread crumbs. They freeze very well and are so much better than Panko or Progresso. Flavor them, too, if you’d like.

Home-made Pretzel RollsPretzel Buns: These freeze very well from a pre-boiled state. While they may be frozen after they’re baked and are still delish, the lovely crunchy crust is lost. Recipe makes 16 large.

Pizza DoughPizza Dough: It’s just as easy to make two pizza doughs as one, and squirrel one away in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge and it will be ready after work the next day; making dinner’s a breeze.

My Grandmother's Pumpkin BreadPumpkin Bread: My Grandmother’s recipe makes two loaves so it’s perfect to make one to eat now and freeze another. This beautifully moist bread freezes beautifully, by the way.

Brunch

Frittata1 xFrittatas: They’re so easy to make, I often don’t bother to freeze, but I always snatch any left over, wrap well and toss in the freezer for a quick breakfast another day! Sturdy enough to travel in the car.

waffle1Marion Cunningham’s Overnight Yeasted Waffle: Interesting, but I had mixed reviews in my Belgian waffle maker. Very light and crispy after a little time in the oven. These have an almost cult following.

wafflenew6Overnight Waffles Adapted Belgian: I couldn’t let it go; I had to perfect a Belgian Waffle, and it freezes beautifully. Just heat through from the frozen state, don’t thaw first. Instant Gourmet.

Quiche xQuiche: This absolute classic freezes beautifully several ways! Freeze the filling, ready to thaw and fill a crust or freeze before or after baking. Do not thaw before cooking or reheating.

scottish-oatcakes32xxxScottish Oatmeal Pancakes: Like most pancakes, these freeze absolutely beautifully. Since the oats require an overnight soak freezing is a great way to have them instantly.

Desserts

Frozen desserts are of course a no-brainer, but many others freeze well. Brownies, cookies, cookie dough, pies. Beware of anything with pudding or custard!

brownies7 xBrownies, Rich& Chewy: Brownies are an excellent candidate for freezing – true confession? I like to eat them right from the freezer, still frozen! Layer with wax paper between, wrapped in plastic.

souf7-xxChocolate Souffles – Individual: What every you call them, these light, airy chocolate souffles with an ooey, gooey center are always a perfect dessert! These freeze beautifully.

Honey Dew Sorbet xCracked Black Pepper & Honeydew Popsicles: Knowing a few of these are in the freezer on a hot day is a wonderful thing. Honeydew is so sweet the black pepper dances off your tongue!

crepe1 xCrêpes: A fantastic recipe for this basic building block to so many dishes, make them sweet or savory. Easier than you’d think to make, considering all the mystique, They freeze beautifully.

Fresh Strawberry SorbetFresh Strawberry Sorbet: So much better than store-bought & the best Sorbet you’ll ever eat. Intense and creamy and you’ll want to make room in the freezer for multiple batches.

inner SanctumInner Sanctum Chocolate Cake: Very simple to make, it hardly seems worth freezing – and yet it does freeze very well. It’s nice to have a dessert to pull out at a moment’s notice.

Lemon Buttermilk PopsiclesLemon Thyme Popsicles: Imagine a dreamsicle but in a bright sunny, creamy lemon flavor. The thyme is best for grownups. One of the simplest things you’ll ever make!

StreuselStreusel Topping: When I make a dessert (or my Big, Beautiful Muffins) that requires a Streusel Topping, I double it and freeze. It’s actually better frozen, and then it’s ready to go!

Poultry

chicken-breasts-prepped xBone In Chicken Breast: How to buy at a great price, break down, de-bone, divvy into portion sizes – use every bit efficiently and make the most of it. Frozen portions are frugal! No waste.

Best chicken or turkey stockBest Turkey or Chicken Broth: Having this in the freezer is an asset to be sure! Home-made is a far cry from boxed. Freeze and portion in quantities that work well for you. Condense and it takes little room.

Bourbon Chicken3Bourbon Chicken: This simple recipe takes little time, but it’s nice to have some in the freezer. The sauce may be a bit thinner, but instructions on how to bring it back on post. Why crockpot a 20 minute meal?

Chicken Meatballs w Marinara xChicken & Ricotta Meatballs: If your tastes run anything like mine, you won’t be able to stop eating these fantastic little meatballs. Great in soups, sandwiches or served with a sauce.

cordon bleu xChicken Cordon Bleu: Best if made ahead, anyway, why not make extras to freeze? Can be frozen without breading and thawed in the fridge or frozen with and cooked directly from freezer.

Chipotle's Chicken Burrito thumbnailChipotle Chicken: My copycat recipe is the best out there! Portion chicken, add marinade seasonings and freeze the marinated chicken. Defrost and grill and you’re ready to go.

cajun5 xGrilled Cajun Chicken: Double (or more) the chicken, marinade and chuck in the freezer. As it thaws overnight, the marinade continues to add flavor and a quick grill gets dinner on the table.

Tinga de Pollo xPueblan Chicken, Chicken Tinga: A beautifully flavored, but not hot shredded Mexican style  chicken. 3 1/2 pounds of chicken makes about 9 cups, 3/4 cup per serving, wrap well!

grilled southwestern xSouthwestern Lime Chicken: Just as easy to marinate one batch as several, stash a few in your freezer for easy no-brainer meals later. Great as a main, a sandwich or in salad.

 Beef

Many items made with beef freeze well, as does beef itself for short term. One caveat! Try not to ever refreeze. It’s not a safety issue, but a quality one. Buy roasts and break down. Buy family packs, too and portion out.

Slow Cooker Bolognese5 xBolognese: Deep, rich, winey sauce that’s hands off – done in the slow cooker. A large batch is the base for other meals – serve over noodles and make Lasagna Bolognese. Freezes very well.

Oven Roasted Hamburgers xDa Bomb Oven Roasted Hamburgers: Why not make your own hamburger patties some day when you’ve a bit extra time and bulk hamburger? Save money over buying premade frozen!

taco xPicadillo Tacos: Double or triple this fun little taco filling – it’s moist enough to spend a bit of time in the freezer and thaws easily for an “instant” dinner. Think short-term here.

kaltenbach farms zesty sloppy joesxZesty Sloppy Joes: This recipe makes about 25 sloppy joes, so it’s a no brainer freezer item. Divide in portions your family needs for a meal and throw dinner together in no time.

Old Fashioned Swiss SteakSwiss Steak, Old Fashioned: This is really a down home, simple recipe, comfort food, to be sure. It relies on little more than the simple ingredients and time. An easy, slow braise perfect for fall.

Fish

tuna cakes1 xTuna Cakes: Since it’s as easy to make many as a few and they bread so much better from a frozen state, why not have them on hand and ready to go? Don’t thaw. Just quickly bread and pan fry.

Vegetarian

Pesto xPesto: Freezes very well and is a wonderful way to preserve a bounty of basil. The rich olive oil protects the delicate basil in the freezer. Taste summer all winter long when ever you pull out a packet.

Quick Marinara1xQuick Marinara: A rich, full-bodied Marinara that’s out of this world fantastic, and best of all fresh tasting! A little wine, a few herbs and a couple cans of tomato! You’ll look like a genius!

ratatouille xRatatouille: Bursting with flavor and tons of veggies, this Provencal stew freezes very well. The vegetables may become a bit softer but the taste doesn’t suffer at all! A wonderful main meal or side.

Sparrow Tavern's Veggie Burger1 xSparrow Tavern’s Veggie Burger: A burger even carnivores love, ripped off from Diner’s, Drive-Ins & Dive’s. Freeze by wrapping each patty well and then ganging up in a Ziploc.

Stuffed VegetablesxStuffed Vegetables: When zucchini is at its most prolific, make a huge batch of stuffed. Portion in individual or family sizes and you’ll have healthy food on hand for a quick meal anytime.

Quick Tomato Sauce xSimple, Quick Tomato Sauce: A no brainer, any spaghetti sauce is an excellent candidate for the freezer. Eliminate waste by portioning in sizes your family uses and have a quick dinner in no time.

White Bean Ragout xWhite Bean Ragout over Garlic Toasts: Freezes beautifully. Reheats like a dream. Great to portion in family sizes or lunch sizes. Packed with protein vegetarian!

Pork

pork 1 xBoston Butt, Pork Shoulder: How to buy at a great price, break down for meals and save time & money. Many recipes made with pork shoulder freeze well, too, as do the roasts.

Lentils with ChorizoLentils with Chorizo & Carrots: This stew is smack in your face with flavor and is pretty much a no brainer for the freezer! Pull it out and serve with mashed potatoes or on its own.

chorizo xChorizo, home-made: Super simple to make in the food processor, I started making my own when it was impossible to find at the store, but I kept making it because it is so much more inexpensive.

Old fashioned ham loafOld Fashioned Ham Loaf: My Grandmother’s recipe makes two modest or one huge ham loaf. I often bake one for the family and freeze the other for a later no brainer meal.

pulledpork1 xPulled Pork in the Slow Cooker: When you can’t smoke, consider making this lovely dish in the Southern way – use a rub! This set it and forget it method is so good, so easy.

Red Beans & Rice xRed Beans & Rice: If there was ever a better candidate for the freezer, I don’t know what it could be! I often portion half for the freezer upfront since it makes so much; no need to let this languish in the fridge.

Mexican Shredded Pork1Shredded Mexican Style Pork: Double or triple and freeze and you’ll always have gorgeous slowly braised flavor at a moment’s notice! Tacos, burritos, tostadas whenever you wish.

12 days ham xTwelve Days of Ham: Although cooked ham only freezes short-term, divide it into sizes for your favorite recipes. Well wrapped, this will buy you time.  Over a dozen recipes for ham.

Sandwiches

Cornish Pasty XCornish Pasty: These little pastry pockets of love freeze beautifully – it’s essentially a pie. Freeze individually, thaw overnight and then bake as directed. A great dish to mulitply out.

Falafel4 xFalafel: Falafel need to be made a bit ahead of time so they’re ideal to make and freeze and have at the ready. Freeze the formed falafel or cook and freeze ready to use. Cook from the frozen state.

Runza3 xRunza: The forerunner of the Hot Pocket! But much more delicious. Get the mess over at once, bake and freeze – these reheat beautifully in the oven or microwave.

Casseroles

Many casseroles freeze well. A trick is to line your casserole dish with plastic wrap, then freeze the casserole. Remove and wrap well. When ready to bake, remove plastic and plop into the original dish. A few other casseroles, Turkey Tetrazzini and my Tuna Casseroles freeze well, too. See my Casserole Menu.

Cheesy Chicken2Cheesy Chicken or Turkey Casserole: My favorite to freeze, this makes one large or two modest casseroles. Freeze the crumb topping in a small bag and wrap along with the casserole.

Chicken Enchiladas xChicken Enchiladas: Double your recipe and freeze one. Make sure every bit of tortilla is covered with sauce & put cheese into a separate packet to add a few minutes before they are finished.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls xStuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sweet & Sour Sauce: Every family with an Eastern European heritage and southward probably has their own recipe – this one is particularly good!

Taco Night Casserole xTaco Night Casserole: A hearty casserole with the taste we all love, plus a few more vegetables and healthy beans. Freeze the cheese and topping on their own.

Building Blocks

Make long cooking “parts” of meals ahead in quantity and stash part of it away in the freezer. Your own convenience food, additive free.

onion 8 xCaramelized Onions: Like gold in your freezer! When I need some, I always make extra so that I can stash some in the freezer for “instant” caramelized onions whenever I want.

crepe1 xCrêpes: A fantastic recipe for this basic building block to so many dishes, make them sweet or savory. Easier than you’d think to make, considering all the mystique, They freeze beautifully.

Red Roux xDark or Red Roux: Roux takes time and patience, but it freezes wonderfully making all that work worth your while. Have authentic Jambalaya in minutes, with the help of your freezer.

Egg Noodles9 xHome-made Egg Noodles: Freeze these on their own if using shortly or in a bit of broth for longer term. Your own convenience food and better than you can buy. They’ll make the meal.

nutcracker xNuts and Seeds: All my nuts are kept in the freezer where they’ll last for an amazing amount of time and still stay fresh. The same goes for any seeds such as poppy or sesame.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad2 xQuinoa: Here are the simple basics to cook a light, fluffy Quinoa; how you modify it and what you do to it is up to you. Freeze for short-term; it’s a blank slate to use in almost anything.

red-onion-marmalade-thumbnailRed Onion Marmalade: A batch of this in your freezer, portioned in small amounts will make you look like a gourmand at a minute’s notice. Maximize your time & no waste.

ranchero xRanchero Sauce: A favorite sauce over omelettes, eggs or Mexican food, this is a simple, fresh garden sauce with just a bit of a sweet/sour twang. Quick & easy to make, but a freezer stash is great!

Roasted Jalapenos xRoasted Jalapenos or other peppers: Freeze beautifully and are great to have on hand for Salsa (or other dishes) at a moment’s notice. Roast extra & control the heat, then freeze what’s left.

sofrito4xSofrito: Can be used as a more flavorful tomato paste in a lot of dishes or added to any dish that starts out: Onion, Garlic, Peppers & Tomatoes. It’s a fantastic way to get a leg up on a dish.

Wild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder2 xWild Rice: This is a long cooking grain, and takes about 40 minutes. It freezes beautifully, though, and I freeze any cooking liquid, too, to add deep, earthy flavors to some soups.

Soups

Of all the things I love to freeze, soup tops the list. They’re easy to make huge pots of and divvy up. Stay away from freezing “cream” soups if they contain dairy, or make them up to the point of adding the dairy, freeze, with instructions of how much to add after the soup has thawed.

beef-barley-soup xBeef Barley Soup: A healthy, hearty go to soup after a pot roast, I make a huge batch and squirrel away part of it in the freezer. Truly a family favorite, it freezes like a dream.

Chicken Chowder Chipotle xChicken Chowder with Chipotle: Freezes like a dream, leave out the cream and add when reheating. Make a pot of this streamlined version. Add a few garnishes and it’s fresh as can be!

classic-chicken-noodle-soupTurkey or Chicken Noodle Soup: So perfect to have two or three or four containers of this fantastic soup to pull out on a winter day! Make it with left over Thanksgiving Turkey!

Classic Vegetable Soup, Perfected xClassic Vegetable Soup, Perfected: Super healthy, it’s rare to peek in my freezer and not see a container or two of this gorgeous and easy soup. You won’t even miss the meat!

Connemara Soup3Connemara Soup: Adapted from the Simon Pearce Restaurant in Vermont, this is an amped up Tomato Soup. A little Corned Beef (or a touch of bacon) lends flavor, but it could be Vegetarian.

Cuban Black Bean xCuban Black Bean Soup: Hope you have a huge pot because you’ll want to have a lot of this stashed in your freezer. It’s nice and hearty and filling! Everyone will think you’ve cooked all day!

Elegant Mushroom Lemon Basil SoupElegant Mushroom Basil Soup: So fresh, so bright and lemony, no one will guess it was pulled from your freezer. Double or triple this recipe and freeze it before it’s all lapped up!

French Onion Soup1 xFrench Onion Soup: Yeah, it takes a long time to make – but this is CI’s method, short-cutted – still might as well make the most of your time & double for the freezer.

Italian Wedding Soup4 xItalian Wedding Soup: Chock full of healthy ingredients these have a very special Chicken & Ricotta meatball that just makes the soup. So good you’ll never know its good for you.

minestrone xMinestrone: An easy soup, perfect to double – we like it best (and freeze it) with no noodles! It’s an asset waiting to be pulled out on a busy day, and this one is jumping with flavor.

Navy Bean with Bacon xNavy Bean Soup: This is a gussied up version of Senate Navy Bean Soup and a perfect freezer candidate! You’ll want to have a cauldron of it to portion and freeze. freeze the bacon by itself.

Chili xOld-Fashioned American Chili: You can’t go wrong with some of this stashed away in the freezer – a perfect make ahead for a football party, too. Mild enough for the whole family.

Posole5 xPozole – A hearty, slow cooked dish of Chile, Hominy & Pork, not so much hot as it is rich & flavorful. Just like Pho, it’s the garnishes that really make the meal. This soup has all the flavors of a tamale.

Split Pea SoupSplit Pea Soup: A classic, but this one is better than ever – no dull Grandma soup here. Plus it’s a hearty meal. Make a double batch after a ham dinner & pat yourself on the back for being so smart.

Red Lentil SoupRed Lentil Soup: Unlike cream soups, this soup uses coconut milk & freezes well. Just about as healthy as a soup can be. A personal favorite, I use it as a soup & a healthy dip.

Chipotle Chicken Chili xWhite Bean & Chipotle Chili: This serious Chili freezes like a dream! Cut back the spice if serving the “littles” but you can’t go wrong freezing this by the gallon for football parties!

bean soup2xWhite Bean & Kale Soup: A healthy & lovely soup that fares very well in the freezer. I often freeze in small containers for lunches. Filling but full of good healthy ingredients and tastes so good.

Wild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder3xWild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder: An unusually delicious and perfectly healthy soup – I often freeze it, the wild rice and the vegetable medley that makes the soup!

Vegetables & Sides

rustic-chunky-applesauceApplesauce, Rustic and  Chunky: Not just for kids, anymore. A bit homely, but don’t let that fool you. So dense I don’t can it, it does stand up very well to the freezer, and a little goes far.

bomb potato xBomb Baked Potato Wedges: While some oven fries don’t live up to expectation, not so with these. Take them to the par cooked stage, lay on a sheet & freeze. Cook them up any old weeknight.

Glazed Carrots xGlazed Carrots with variations: A simple way to dress up a simple vegetable, these flavors bring out the best in carrots. Often overlooked, a carrot is a beautiful thing when done well.

Wild Rice & Smoked Turkey Chowder1 xSweet Potato, Bell Pepper and Corn Sauté: With wild rice or without, this is the vegetable portion of my Wild Rice and Smoked Turkey Chowder. I freeze a short-term for a gourmet side!

Irish Potato Cakes xTraditional Irish Potato Cakes: When I was a child and these appeared on the menu, I knew it was going to be a good night! These prove just how good a left over can be and freeze well.

twice-baked-potatoes1xTwiced Baked Potatoes for the Freezer: These delicious little stuffed potatoes freeze beautifully, and can be pulled out for a quick side. Just portion them up in quantities your family will use.

16 thoughts on “Make Ahead for the Freezer”

  1. I love this! I was against freezer food for a while, but now I’m so into it! It makes life so much easier – especially for work lunches.

  2. You’ve such wealth of information along with amazing dishes. I’ve to visit your blog a bit more to grasp and enjoy your work. I’m so impressed. Wonderful blog!
    Cheers!

  3. I’m a big believer in making big batches of something when I have time and storing it away for busy time or when I’m tired at the end of a day. It’s especially useful for a single person and saves a lot of time. I don’t usually cook more than a couple of days a week … barring making a batch of mashed potatoes or prepping romaine for salad. Even some kinds of cooked rice freeze well.

    It helps that I have two freezers, one off my pantry for cooked dishes and the other one in the freezer for staples ie. frozen whole turkey, ham etc.

    1. It sounds like we’re kindred spirits! As my family has dwindled, I think I use my freezer even more!

      Just today my son and his g/f came over and I was lucky to have a batch of my Vegetable Soup to heat up! So I’m “Making Dinner” right now! 🙂

      1. Recently I’ve been making soup and freezing it in 2 serving batches because it’s a great accompaniment to any meal. My frugal mom, who had to cook on a budget when we were young, always made soups to fill us up before putting stews, pork chops, roast chicken etc. on the table.

        These days, I make Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Tex-Mex soups, as well as the more traditional chicken noodle, matzoh ball and bean soups. I have 3 different kinds in the freezer right now and am going to make a batch of broccoli cheese soup tomorrow.

        http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/tag/soup

    1. Homemade bread at a minutes notice! 🙂 I double wrap bread and thaw it overnight in the fridge so if any ice crystals form they slowly absorb back in. I’m curious if that’s the same method you use?

    1. I know exactly what you mean! I have a larger freezer in the laundry room which stays pretty neat. My fridge in the kitchen has the small upper freezer which gets all the little somethings! It’s usually a mess. When I last sorted through it I found a ziploc full of brownies – how did I forget those…

      Probably hid them from Child number 2, the human vacuum! Normally I try to keep like things together, which helps.

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