Food To Make Ahead And Freeze

Food to make ahead and freeze from
The key to cutting down time spent cooking in the kitchen is knowing what food to make ahead and freeze. You can often make these foods as you’re cooking something else, then set part aside to freeze for later use.

Brown ground beef in bulk: When ground beef goes on sale, buy as much as you can afford and cook it immediately. Portion family serving-sizes into reseablable bags, flatten them for easy storage, and freeze — or vacuum seal them for longer freezer storage. To serve: Reheat on the stove and mix with taco seasoning, spaghetti sauce, or Sloppy Joe mix.

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Grill once, eat twice (or more): Next time you’re grilling burgers or chicken, make extra. Arrange burger patties and chicken parts on a baking sheet to freeze then transfer them to containers for future dinners that will still have that yummy grilled taste. Extra grilled steaks and pork chops freeze well, too. Grilled vegetables freeze well, too, or stash them in your fridge to use that week as a side dishes. To serve: Defrost, then reheat in a low oven or slice for use in casseroles.

Use your noodle: Make extra-large batches of pasta and remove some at the al dente stage. Drain well then transfer servings to air-tight containers and freeze. To serve: Dunk frozen in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to thaw and finish cooking then toss with sauce. Add leftover grilled vegetables or cooked meat and top with cheese, or bake as a casserole.

Quick kebab prep: Cut sirloin, pork chops, or boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch chunks and put them in a freezer bag. Add Italian salad dressing. Remove as much air as you can and freeze. To serve: When you’re ready for kebabs, add chopped zucchini, onions, peppers, and mushrooms to the bag then let it defrost and skewer. The meat and veggies will have marinated during the defrost, saving you time and clean-up.

Plan for pizza night: Homemade pizza dough is easy to make, and you can find recipes all over the internet. (We love Mark Bittman’s recipe because it’s so easy.) Double the recipe, make two balls of dough, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and stash them in your freezer. To serve: Defrost the dough at room temperature, shape, then let rise under a towel on a floured surface for 20 minutes. Top with your favorite ingredients, heat a cookie sheet in a 425°F oven and slide your pizza on to it. Bake 10-12 minutes until crust is golden. (You can even shape and top the unbaked dough then wrap it tightly for future cooking, too.)

Once you know what food to make ahead and freeze, speeding up dinner prep is a breeze. Combine this with buying meat in bulk when it’s on sale and you’ll not only save time, you’ll save quite a bit of money, too.

Equipment I’ve Used For This:


  1. says

    Bring home your uneaten fries (yeah, I know, but it happens!), freeze them, and you’ve got quick hash browns for brekky. Way faster than starting from scratch.

    I always say that if I can bring leftovers home from a meal out I’m getting two noshes for the price of one!

    • Katie B. says

      You have a smaller appetite (and no doubt a smaller waistline) than I do, because I never have leftovers when I go out to eat, unless we’re eating Chinese food. Then everyone in the family has leftover rice. I bring it home and make fried rice a couple of days later, which lets me use up any veggies and meat in the fridge, too.

  2. says

    i love anything that can be frozen for future nomming – great post! i really need to get some freezer meals made this week because it’s already getting uncomfortably hot in Nashville, so cooking every night is getting less appealing. question – is the Mark Bittman pizza dough more of a thin-crust style dough? or thicker? i’m planning our week’s dinners + would love to make homemade pizza one night – i prefer a thin-crust style. thanks, lady!

    • says

      It all depends on how you roll it out, and whether you preheat the pan you’ll bake it on. I don’t bother with preheating, because I don’t have a pizza stone. (It’s on my birthday Wish List, though!) I just roll it out as thin as I can, let it rest (it’ll shrink a bit) and roll it out some more to get a thinner one, since I need to cut the calories wherever I can.

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