Like many busy parents, I sometimes dread the hour before dinner. It can be such a chaotic time, racing home from after-school activities, supervising homework, and trying to get a decent meal on the table before everyone in the house gets hangry.
Sure, I try my best to make a weekly menu plan but, like cleaning the house, sometimes my plans take a backseat to real life.
That’s when I turn to my freezer, which I’ve learned to stock with these five foods you should make and freeze for times when life overcomes your best intentions.
5 Foods to Make And Freeze
1. Cooked Ground Beef
When ground beef goes on sale, buy as much as you can afford and cook it immediately. Portion family-sized serving into resealable bags, flatten them for easy storage and freeze. (Here’s how to save money on meat.)
Since they’re pre-cooked and flattened, it takes just minutes to defrost a bag in a sink of warm (not hot) water or the microwave. Now you’ve got a jump start on several easy meals like tacos, spaghetti, or Sloppy Joes.
2. Grilled Foods
Anything you can grill (aside from fish or fruit) will be almost as good the second time around. So the next time you’re doing a cookout, double what you’re grilling and freeze half.
I particularly like to make extra Tangy Curry Chicken Kebabs then slide them off the skewers before freezing. You can do the same with burger patties, steaks, chops, even chicken — just freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop them into resealable bags.
Remove them from the bag and defrost in the microwave for a fast, easy weeknight meal.
Who doesn’t wind up cooking too much pasta every time they make it? I do it on purpose because pasta-based meals come together even faster when you’ve got pre-cooked bags of it in the freezer.
To reheat it just bring a covered pot of water to boil, remove the lid, and add your pasta for 2 to 3 minutes then drain. Now you can top it with a quick marinara sauce and a little freshly grated cheese for a quick meal.
Or in a greased baking dish, combine it with the sauce and some of those grilled vegetables and meat you froze. Scatter cheese on top and pop it into a 350°F oven for 20 minutes to make a hearty casserole.
4. Beans or Legumes
Beans really are the magical fruit, especially when you make extras to freeze. After cooking a pot of beans, spread them in a layer on a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Freezing them on a sheet before transferring them to a resealable bag prevents clumps, so you can scoop frozen beans straight from the bag to use in recipes as needed.
Add them straight from the freezer to soups and stews, or put them in a colander and run warm water over them for a minute to use in casseroles.
5. Homemade Pizza
We make a dozen personal-sized pizzas at a time using our favorite homemade dough and partially cooking the crusts in a 450°F oven for 4 minutes then letting them cool. Turn them into frozen homemade pizza in just a few more steps.
- Add your favorite toppings — pepperoni, cheese, even homemade marinated artichoke hearts.
- Wrap them in plastic then again in aluminum foil and freeze them.
- When you’re craving pizza, preheat the oven to 550°F, unwrap a frozen one, and slide it right onto the center rack to bake for 8 or so minutes.
You’ll be eating homemade pizza long before any delivery service could get to your house!