20+ Freezer Meals to Take on Vacation

By Rachel Tiemeyer
March 8, 2021

Ready to save money and time in the kitchen while on vacation? Freezer meals are the answer! I’ve rounded up the best freezer meals to take on vacation, as well as expert tips for prepping and transporting them, too.

several freezer meals that work to take on vacation

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I’ve made food ahead of time and taken it on vacation for years. Not only has it saved us hundreds of dollars by eating in our condo or cabin, but I spend very little time in the kitchen and a lot more time having fun with my people!

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Whether you’re headed to the mountains (read about our Estes Park, CO trip) or the beach (read about our Destin, FL trip), I’ve rounded up 20+ delicious freezer meals to make ahead and take on the road with you. But, first, consider our expert tips before making your freezer meals for vacation…

Tips for Making Freezer Meals for Vacation

1. Choose meals that don’t require much work on the back end.

Sometimes freezer meals are fast to prep on the front end but require more work at the end. I intentionally chose meals that have most of the work on the front end, so it will only take you minutes to prepare on vacation.

2. Package and freeze them the right way.

The best way for storing most of these vacation freezer meals is either in a rigid freezer container with a lid or in gallon-sized freezer bags that you will freeze flat for easy stacking. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that air is the enemy of good freezer meals. So wrap your meals up really tight. Make sure your meals are frozen solid before transporting them.

3. Transport them the right way.

Stack your completely frozen meals in a large cooler and cover them in ice. They will stay plenty cold and mostly frozen in the cooler for 24 hours at least. You will need to add more ice after 24 hours. Even if your meals thaw a bit, it’s not a safety issue as long as they stay super cold.

Two of my friends used their Yeti coolers (and filled them with ice) last summer on their 15 hour drive to Florida, including an overnight stay on the way. They transported a week’s worth of meals and all of it remained frozen for nearly 30 hours!

4. Thaw them the right way.

As soon as you arrive at your destination, you’ll probably want to place several or all of your meals in the refrigerator right away to begin thawing. They can take 24-48 hours to thaw. You will need to use them within about 3 days of thawing. Or, use one of these other safe thawing methods.

5. Pick up and serve easy sides.

Keep things simple on vacation when it comes to side dishes. Make a quick trip to the store once you arrive at your destination to grab some simple sides to serve with each of these meals. Here are a few side dish ideas:

  • Baby carrots, veggie sticks, and/or sugar snap peas with hummus or Ranch dip
  • Store-bought guacamole and/or salsa and tortilla chips
  • Lots of fruit to use with each meal (i.e. apples, berries, watermelon, peaches, etc)
  • Salads in a bag
  • Baked beans and coleslaw from the prepared food section
  • Applesauce
  • A loaf of bakery bread, like Sourdough or Italian, and butter to go with the casseroles
  • Prepackaged cooked rice
  • Tator tots or oven fries from the frozen food section

Freezer Meals to Take on Vacation

These freezer meals to take on vacation have been well-tested by our families and our readers over the years. Not only are they a favorite among all ages, but they require very little work for you on the back end.

1. Baked Italian Meatballs

Bake, cool, and freeze the meatballs in marinara sauce in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Then, thaw, warm, and use over spaghetti or in meatball subs (with Provolone cheese slices on top, of course).

You could even use our Double Your Dinner directions here to make two batches, so you can feed a crowd or eat on these for a few nights. #sosmart

2. Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos (or Instant Pot Taquitos)

The magic of this freezer meal is that the taquitos go directly from freezer to the oven and to the table in no time. Serve with your favorite Mexican toppings, like guacamole, sour cream, and salsa, on top. Kids love these!

We’ve also put together Double Your Dinner directions for these, as well, so you can feed a crowd or enjoy them for more than one meal.

Chicken and Cheese Taquitos piled on a serving platter with avocado lime salsa on top

3. Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Put together this crowd-pleaser casserole, do NOT bake, and then freeze. When you arrive, place in the fridge to begin thawing. Bake as directed. Serve “as is” or over your favorite pasta with a salad and some bread on the side. Super easy!

4. Baked Penne Pasta

Another easy thaw and bake casserole option. This is a HUGE and very popular recipe, so you’ll have leftovers for another meal or two. My friend, Laura, made a few of these casseroles ahead of time for her entire extended family to take to their family reunion. It was a big hit and very low stress for her when she got there.

5. Ham and Cheese Sliders

Perfect for lunch or dinner. All ages love these sliders.

6. Breakfast Casserole Muffins

A hearty, grab-and-go breakfast option. Warm up in the microwave in seconds.

7. Chicken Spaghetti

Here’s another casserole that your family will love and that only requires you to pop it in the oven after it’s thawed.

8. BBQ Beef Sandwiches (or try our Instant Pot version)

Cook and shred the meat ahead of time. Freeze it in the sauce. Then simply thaw and rewarm for a quick dinner. Corn on the cob, watermelon, baked beans, or coleslaw are all great side dish ideas for this one. Or, you may prefer our BBQ Pulled Pork instead.

BBQ shredded beef sandwich on a plate with corn and grapes

9. Grilled Pork Tenderloin

If you have access to a grill, this is an easy and tasty one to prepare ahead and to grill later. Simply season your pork tenderloin(s) and place in a freezer bag according to the recipe. Thaw and grill at your destination. My kids love this! Leftovers are great on sandwiches with some BBQ sauce, too.

10. Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders (or this Instant Pot version)

If you have a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, this is a super simple recipe to prep head and make on vacation. Every age enjoys it, too. You’ll need mini buns, grated Parmesan, and Provolone slices on hand to complete the meal.

11. Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

Budget-friendly, vegetarian, and goes straight from the freezer to the oven or microwave. Enjoy for lunch or dinner.

freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

12. Cheesy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Enjoy a Tex-Mex night at your home away from home with this irresistible enchiladas! Grab some pre-made Mexican rice and some guac and chips at the store to complete your meal.

Cheesy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

13. Chocolate Banana Muffins

Great for grab-and-go breakfasts. Everyone will love these healthy, chocolaty muffins. Thaw in the microwave in 15 second increments or on the counter for a few minutes.

14. Smoothie Freezer Packs

Perfect for healthy breakfasts and snacks! We’ve developed 7 delicious smoothie recipes to make ahead and freeze. Just add liquid to the blender, dump in your pack ingredients, and blend. Another one of my friends, Kelly S, made a week’s worth of these, packed them in the cooler, and hauled them to our beach vacation last summer. Brilliant!

Plus, you can download and print all the recipes, shopping lists, and freezer labels for free.

15. Super Sloppy Joes

This homemade veggie-rich Sloppy Joes recipe with a tangy-sweet tomato sauce is a family favorite. Double and freeze extras for later!

16. Freezer Breakfast Burritos

I love that these go directly from freezer to oven! Absolutely delicious for any meal.

17. Totally Tasty Taco Bar Kit

Make some homemade seasoned taco meat and freeze it along with cheese and tortillas. When you arrive to your destination, grab your favorite taco toppings. When ready to eat, warm the meat and set up your taco bar. So easy and everyone’s happy!

18. Sweet and Savory Baked Pork Chops

A kid fave and so easy to bake. Serve with simple sides for a healthy dinner. Gluten-free options and naturally dairy-free.

19. Crispy Carnitas

A crowd favorite! Serve in tortillas with Mexican toppings of you choice. You can make these either in the slow cooker or Instant Pot once you arrive at your destination, OR cook them ahead of time and freeze the shredded pork in the sauce. This is gluten-free and dairy-free (if you serve without cheese).

20. 7 Chicken Marinades

Here’s a really easy meal to prep ahead–chicken breasts in your favorite marinade. We’ve given you 7 options of tasty marinades, several methods for cooking the chicken, and several ideas for how to use your cooked chicken.

chicken breasts in marinades in freezer bags

21. Spinach and Bacon Quiche

This one works for breakfast or dinner, and it’s absolutely cheesy, bacony, and unforgettable. Make ahead and freeze before baking. Then, thaw and bake when ready to eat.

22. Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

One reader suggested breakfast burritos or these because you can warm them in the microwave in a hotel room for a quick and hearty breakfast or lunch. Love that idea!

make ahead breakfast sandwiches on a cutting board

23. Cheesy Chive Burgers

If you’ll have access to a grill, make these flavor-packed burgers ahead of time and freeze the patties. Buy some frozen fries and a bag of salad as easy side dishes at the store, throw these burgers on the grill, and you’ll have a delicious, cheap, and easy dinner!

grilled burger on a bun with oven fries on the side

Want to Make 6 Freezer Meals in Just 1 Hour for Vacay?

Here’s possibly the best vacation solution of all! Grab one (or several) of our 1 Hour Freezer Prep Sessions and throw together 6 DELICIOUS, family-friendly meals in just 1 hour!

Friends, we’ve taken all the guesswork out of batch cooking for you. We give you everything you need, including simple instructions, an organized shopping and equipment list, dairy-free and gluten-free substitutions, and even pre-filled freezer labels. Check out what one session includes…

Vacationing with friends? Here’s an idea. What if each of you made a different 1 Hour Freezer Prep Session and then swapped some meals so everyone had a variety to choose from?

Family Vacation Ideas

Polly and I have written about several of our vacations over the years. Feel free to grab ideas for your own family from our reviews and tips.

Family Vacation to Estes Park, Colorado

This was Rachel’s family’s favorite vacation so far! Read about what we did and our recommendations.

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Rachel’s family hit the beach one year and it rained almost the entire week. But, here are 10 things I’m so glad we did together no matter what!

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Rachel and her husband get away to Kansas City every few years and have found some great local places to hit.

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4 replies
  1. Donna C says:

    I wish I had found this post before now since it’s the night before we’re leaving on vacation. However, t am definitely going to look into making some of these recipes while we visit my mother’s home since she’s depending on us to do the cooking/baking!
    Thanks so much for all the time and work you put into this amazing list!!!