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Easy Make Ahead Meals for the Freezer

freezer meals

Question: I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy and want to stock my freezer with some healthy dishes for after the baby comes. Can you recommend some of your recipes that are freezer-friendly and tasty when reheated?  Also, any tips on store-bought freezer food that’s not gross and/or unhealthy?

Answer: Good news! You can freeze almost any meal but salad.  Here are some of my favorite freezer-friendly meals:

  1. Soups and stews. This is the most obvious answer, but the wide variety of soups and stews you can make could keep you happy and satisfied for months.  My favorites: Chickpea Stew with Chicken Sausage, Mushroom Barley Stew, Healthy Cream of Mushroom Soup, and Barley Stew with Lemon, Fennel, and Dill.  This Root Veggie & Ginger Soup, pictured above, is also fantastic for fall.
  2. Braised meats. Pulled chicken, pulled pork, and ground beef in sauce, are great freezing options, because you can spoon them over noodles, a baked (or microwaved) potato, or scoop them onto a bun for a hearty sandwich.  My favorite healthier version of pulled meat is Rosemary Pulled Chicken.  You can also just brown lean ground beef or turkey with chopped onion, then add BBQ sauce and chopped fresh pineapple and canned diced tomatoes, for a unique take on a Sloppy Joe.
  3. Shrimp with Roasted Peppers and Feta. This dish takes virtually no time to prepare, can be put directly into the oven from the freezer, and is still ready in 20 minutes.  Plus, it’s low-cal and delicious.  Thank you, Real Simple.
  4. Enchiladas and Ready-to-Bake Pasta. Any enchilada recipe (like this yummy one) can be prepped in a baking dish, covered with plastic wrap and foil, and frozen right in the dish.  Just remove from the freezer, uncover, and bake until heated through.  The same goes for any pasta in sauce.  Make pasta with marinara sauce loaded with veggies, pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, then cover and freeze.  When you’re ready to enjoy, pop it into the oven.
  5. Homemade Frozen Burritos. Load a large whole wheat tortilla with your favorite burrito fixin’s, like chicken breast, rice, beans, salsa, and cheese.  Roll into a burrito and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place burritos in a large Ziploc bag.  When you need a quick lunch or dinner, unwrap and pop a burrito into the microwave.  Add avocado and sour cream/yogurt after freezing.

Tasty, Healthy Freezer Aisle Options

Kashi Frozen Meals: single serving meals for quick lunches or meals in a hurry

American Flatbread Frozen Pizzas: the tastiest frozen pizza made with eco-friendly ingredients

Kashi Frozen Pizzas: higher fiber than all other frozen pizzas

Amy’s frozen pizzas and meals: Lots of great-tasting options, vegetarian and made from organic ingredients

Trader Joe’s frozen meals: So many options here. Some are healthy, some are not. Make sure to read Nutrition Facts Labels so you’re aware of what you’re buying.  Look for meals with lots of veggies (or add more frozen veggies of your own) that have under 300 calories and 10g fat per serving.

Lean Cuisine Spa Cuisine: some varieties are tastier than others, but at least these all have 2X the veggies

Remember, all frozen meals or pizzas should be served with veggies of some sort to make a balanced meal — a simple green salad, a side of sauteed broccoli, sliced tomatoes drizzled with balsamic, or even carrot & celery sticks with hummus.

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