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Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Can you freeze wraps? You bet!! Freezer-friendly lunch wraps are nutritious, hearty, and completely adaptable to whatever your family might like in them!

fruit and tortilla wraps on plates

Right now during this time of quarantine, I know many of you are right where I’m at–trying to keep up with work, homeschooling your kids, feeding your family three meals/day, and trying not to gain the ‘Rona 15.

Meals have to be simple and something your kids won’t groan about. A bonus is if it’s cheap and healthy, too.

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps to the rescue, my friends.

strawberries, grapes, vegetarian burrito wrap on a plate

These Lunch Wraps were a staple in my Freezer Club many years ago and make for a healthy and quick lunch or dinner when you’re hanging by a thread.

Video Tutorial: Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

I mean really, it couldn’t be simpler to make these. Watch this short tutorial to see how to make these freezable wraps…

Why Freeze Lunch Wraps?

Yes, this question deserves an entire section. Because you NEED to know how serious I am about you trying this recipe. It might just save your sanity this week.

  1. They’re cheap.
  2. Uses up leftover rice and beans of any kind.
  3. Fast to prepare. Easy to grab and go.
  4. Healthy and will keep you satiated. Just because they lack meat doesn’t mean they won’t fill you up!
  5. Freezable! (Our favorite way to save time!)

See why my Freezer Club friends and I have made Lunch Wraps for years? Now it’s time to join the “club”.

What Are in Make Ahead Lunch Wraps?

ingredients for make ahead lunch wraps on a cutting board

All you need are 6 simple ingredients:

  • Whole wheat tortillas – Flour tortillas are preferred because they hold up best. Note: corn tortillas will not work well.
  • Brown rice – Substitute ideas: white rice or quinoa.
  • Black beans – Kidney or pinto beans work well, too.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – Or substitute your preferred shredded cheese. Here’s how to shred your own cheese.
  • Salsa – Use your favorite brand and preferred heat level.
  • Corn – Canned, frozen, or fresh will work.

Feel free to toss in anything else that floats your boat: baby spinach, sautéed bell peppers and onions, green chilis, taco meat, grilled chicken, etc.

Can You Freeze Wraps?

Absolutely! Just follow our simple freezer meal instructions…

vegetarian lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board with small bowls of corn, salsa, and rice

To Freeze Wraps for Later:

Assemble lunch wraps as recipe states. After tortillas are wrapped in foil and before baking (Step #2), place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Prepare Wraps From Frozen:

To heat from frozen, add about 10-15 minutes on to baking time (so total baking time is about 25-35 minutes). Or remove foil, wrap in a moist paper towel, and microwave in 30-60 second increments until heated through.

What to Serve with Lunch Wraps

Here are a few ideas to serve alongside this super simple recipe…

freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

Creamy Avocado Dip

creamy avocado dip

Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

If you have leftover tortillas, did you know you can freeze them? Here is the best way to freeze tortillas for later.

tortillas in a freezer bag

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps Recipe

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freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 lunch wraps 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Lunch wraps are nutritious, hearty, and completely adaptable to whatever your family might like in them! Make a batch and freeze them for a delicious lunch!


Ingredients

  • 6 (8-inch) whole wheat or multigrain tortillas (corn tortillas are not recommended)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup black or kidney beans, cooked or canned (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drained)
  • 1/2 cup salsa (your favorite kind)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (how to shred your own cheese)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay out the tortillas on a cutting board or clean surface. Evenly distribute the rice, beans, corn, salsa, and cheese among each one. Roll up like a burrito, tucking in the bottom and top and rolling tightly. Wrap each burrito in foil. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Bake directly on an oven rack for about 15-20 minutes, until hot all the way through.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1 and 2. Then, place the uncooked wraps in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: To heat from frozen, you have two options:

Option 1 (Oven): Cook according to Step 3, adding about 10-15 minutes on to baking time. So, the total baking time will be about 25-35 minutes.

Option 2 (Microwave): Remove the foil, wrap in a moist paper towel, and microwave in 30-60 second increments until heated through.

Healthy Slow Cooker Turkey Chili (with Sweet Potato and Black Beans!)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. It’s also gluten-free & dairy-free! This crockpot chili is delicious fresh but is also a great make ahead meal.

‘Tis the season for a good, healthy slow cooker recipe!

In the midst of heavy holiday meals and baked goods, this Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans is…hmmm…refreshing.

Can chili be refreshing? Well, not like refreshing in as a cold drink on a hot day. But, it definitely qualifies as a welcomed break from the overindulgent foods of late. It was a winner and will be a regular in our winter menu planning for sure. The jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day.

What Makes this Turkey Chili Healthy?


This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients.

Here are some of the powerhouse ingredients in this delicious, yet, oh-so-healthy chili:

Is it Gluten-Free & Dairy Free?

You bet! This is a great recipe for anyone trying to minimize gluten and diary in their diet. Just skip the sour cream topping at the end and you have yourself a super healthy bowl of chili!

How Long do I Cook Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker?

To make sure those sweet potatoes get cooked, this chili will need to cook on low for at least 6-8 hours. The shorter the time it cooks, the more firm the sweet potatoes will be. The longer, the softer.

You can also cook it on high for 5-6 but I prefer to cook it on low.

Turkey chili in the slow cooker

After testing hundreds of recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have narrowed down the perfect cooking times for almost all types of slow cooker meals. Be sure to download our cheat sheet below!

Can I Freeze Turkey Chili?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for an easy, healthy freezer meal. It holds up incredibly well in the freezer! It’s one of my favorite soups to make at the beginning of the week and freeze for lunches.

There are two ways to make this a freezer meal:

  1. Fully cook and cool the soup and freeze it in small containers. Use one of our safe thawing methods when you want to eat it!
  2. Prepare it so it will be ready to dump in the slow cooker later. Here’s how:

Follow step 1, but set the sweet potato aside to cool instead of transferring it to the slow cooker. Follow step 2 and let the meat mixture cool. Transfer the sweet potatoes and meat mixture to a gallon-size freezer bag or container and add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 ⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Seal, toss gently to combine, and freeze.

To prepare from frozen, thawing and transfer the chili to the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 and 5.

Pro Tip: I love using Super Cubes (like in the photo above) for freezing soups.

How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Alright, now that you are equipped with all of the turkey chili knowledge you will ever need, time to get cooking! Just follow the recipe below and let us know if you have any questions! Be sure to check out our round-up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes that feed a crowd!

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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potato and Black Beans

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This lean chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. The jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, liquid and all
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounce) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Topping for serving: hot sauce, diced avocado, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, diced onions, salsa, thinly sliced green onion, etc.

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large pan over medium to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté diced sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes, until just softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper while sautéing. Add sweet potato mixture to slow cooker insert.
  2. Turn up heat to medium-high. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the onions, jalapeño pepper, garlic and ground turkey, stirring and breaking up the meat. Cook until meat is cooked through (no longer pink) and onions softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while sautéing. Drain off any grease. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Add meat mixture and remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans) to the slow cooker insert, stirring until well combined.
  4. Slow cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  5. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts. Add hot sauce to increase heat at the end, if desired. Serve topped with your favorite chili toppings (diced avocado, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheddar, diced onions, etc.).

Freezer For Later: Complete recipe through Step 2. Add the cooked and cooled meat and vegetables to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Then, add the remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans) to the same bag. Seal, toss gently to mix, and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Cook according to instructions beginning with Step 4.


Notes

Instant Pot Instructions: Follow steps 1-2 in the recipe, sautéing the sweet potatoes, onion, jalapeño, garlic, and ground turkey directly in the Instant Pot (using the Sauté function). Press Cancel. Then, stir in the remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans). Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes with a quick release of the pressure when done.

Healthy slow cooker turkey chili being scooped out of a white bowl

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

By Polly Conner

Filled with only 6 flavorful ingredients, this Spinach and Bacon Quiche comes together quickly but won’t stick around for long. Make ahead and freeze directions included.

baked quiche in a glass dish and a slice of spinach bacon quiche on a plate

Post contains affiliate links.

Why This is a Staple in Our Home

This freezer-friendly quiche recipe has been circulating in my home for quite a while now. You guys, it is SO good. I mean, it’s got cheese, bacon, and heavy whipping cream soooo, yeah, it’s a party in your mouth.

I wish I could say it was healthy, but I can assure you it wouldn’t be on the weight watchers website. However, with the exception of a store-bought pie crust, it is made with real ingredients, so that’s a win, right? #silverlining

Some other perks about this amazing, delicious recipe is that it only requires a few ingredients and is super easy to double and freeze one for later. In fact, I never make this without doubling it.

We enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The leftovers are just as good as the first day, in my opinion, too.

If you prefer a bite-sized version of this recipe, try our Mini Bacon, Spinach, and Egg Quiches recipe instead.

How to Make Spinach and Bacon Quiche

To get started, put your pie crust in a round baking dish.

round glass freezer container with lid

Here is the baking dish that I prefer to use for this recipe, because it is deep enough for a quiche AND has a storage lid so you can store leftovers or freeze the recipe easily. 

Back to the pie crust…either make your own or use a store-bought one. I cheat and use the store-bought ones. A busy mom can only do so much. I’ll make my own crusts in like 18 years.

pie crust in a glass dish

Now, add your cooked bacon to the pie crust. Hello, beautiful. (Btw, try our no fail trick for baking bacon. It’s the ONLY way I’ll make it now.)

bacon in a bowl

If you have little hands around that you need to keep busy, this is a good task for them. Just be warned that not all of the bacon will make it into the crust.

boy's hand putting bacon in a pie crust

Now add two cups of chopped spinach. Not only does this healthy ingredient balance out all that bacony-cheesy-creamy goodness, but it adds some beautiful color to the quiche.

spinach and bacon in a pie crust in a pie dish

This may seem like a lot of spinach, but when it cooks, it wilts down quite a bit. My husband, who turns his nose up at cooked spinach in recipes, doesn’t even bat an eye at this when it’s done.

Now sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese over the top.

cheese, spinach, and bacon in a pie crust

Lastly, whisk together 6 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream in a bowl. Pour it over all of the ingredients. It will be VERY full.

(Sorry, no picture of this one. Had to deal with a sibling brawl in my kitchen. The smell of bacon brings out the animalistic qualities in all of us.)

If you doubled the recipe, this is the point that you will cover the uncooked quiche and freeze it. If not, continue on to baking it!

spinach and bacon quiche baking in an oven

To bake it, cover the quiche loosely with foil and put it in the oven. This keeps the top from burning. After one hour, remove the foil and cook about 15 more minutes or until the top starts to barely brown and the middle isn’t jiggly (must…refrain…from…immature…joke).

(Baking Tip: If you are using a shallow baking dish, place a baking sheet underneath the dish. You might have an overflow issue on your hands.)

Take it out and let her cool down a bit.

baked spinach and bacon quiche in a round glass dish

Slice it up and serve warm.

slice of baked quiche on a plate

How to Freeze Quiche

As authors of two popular freezer meal cookbooks, we have years and years of testing and research under our belts and have learned what it takes to turn out high-quality freezer meals.

The key to freezing quiche (really any egg-centric casserole) is to prep it, package it tightly, and freeze it BEFORE baking. You can wrap it in a layer of foil and a few layers of plastic wrap (or a tight-fitting lid). The most important factor in packaging any freezer meal is to reduce its exposure to air, which causes freezer burn and adversely affects taste and texture. Store in freezer up to 3 months.

If you want to freeze your quiche after it’s been baked, you can but it will have a soggy crust and the eggs may get overdone when rewarmed in the microwave or oven. This is not our preferred freezing method.

How to Prepare Frozen Quiche

When you’re ready to enjoy your uncooked, frozen quiche, thaw it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. This is hands-down the best way to defrost a dish like this (the microwave defrost setting could partially cook it, which is no good). After it’s fully thawed, bake it according to directions and it’ll taste just like a fresh meal!

baked quiche on a table with a pie server nearby

More Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

I love having breakfast ready to go in the freezer. Here are a few fairly simple make ahead ideas for you.

Breakfast Casserole Muffins

Smoothie Freezer Packs

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

We hope you enjoy this simple quiche for a special occasion or an easy weekday meal! Don’t forget to double the batch and freeze one for later.

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Spinach and Bacon Quiche

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French

Description

This comfort food quiche makes an easy, make ahead breakfast OR dinner. Simple ingredients and freezer friendly!


Ingredients

  • 1 uncooked pie crust
  • 1 pound of cooked bacon, chopped (try our No Fail Bacon method)
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the pie crust into a round baking dish. Layer the bacon, spinach and cheese into the dish.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture over the top of all ingredients. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the middle is set (doesn’t jiggle when you shake it).
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil and a few layers of plastic wrap (or a tight-fitting lid) and freeze. Store in freezer up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Let quiche thaw in fridge for 24-48 hours. Follow Steps 4-5.

Banana Pumpkin Bread

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This Banana Pumpkin Bread is moist, nutritious, and delicious! Learn how to freeze it for later or make it into muffins, too.

To develop this recipe, I started with a Basic Banana Bread recipe from Cooking Light Magazine and then simplified and healthified it a bit. To up the nutrition, I added pumpkin, substituted some whole wheat flour for part of the all purpose flour, used a bit less sugar, and changed up the seasoning a little.

The BEST healthy whole wheat banana pumpkin bread recipe ever! Freezer friendly too!

Let me tell you, my kids–pardon the pun–go bananas over it!

How to Turn Banana Bread Into Muffins

What’s fun is that you can easily turn this bread into muffins, too. To do so, divide the batter evenly among the cups of a greased muffin tin. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If making mini muffins, check them at 11 minutes.

banana pumpkin muffins on a cooling rack

How to Freeze Banana Pumpkin Bread

I often bake up a double batch of this bread and then freeze one to have on hand for quick school morning breakfasts.

banana pumpkin bread loaves in pans

To freeze, fully bake, fully cool, and remove the loaf from the pan. Then wrap the loaf in several layers of plastic wrap and then in a layer of foil. Label it with the recipe name and date and freeze.

When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen bread, let it thaw in on the counter, in the fridge, or using the defrost setting on your microwave. Cut a slice and warm it for about 20 seconds in the microwave.

More Baked Goods to Double and Freeze

Try doubling and freezing a few more of our favorite baked goods, using our freezing instructions in these recipes:

Banana Breakfast Cake

make ahead banana bread

Blueberry Avocado Muffins

Blueberry Avocado Muffins with Lemon Streusel Topping from "From Freezer to Table" Cookbook (copyrighted)

Cinnamon Applesauce Bread

cinnamon applesauce bread

Enjoy this tasty baked bread for breakfast, snack, or even dessert with no shame!

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The BEST healthy whole wheat banana pumpkin bread recipe ever!

Banana Pumpkin Bread (or Muffins)

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 60
  • Yield: 1 loaf or 1215 muffins 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This baked sweet bread packed with all the best flavors of fall and nutritious ingredients like whole wheat flour, flaxseed, pumpkin, and bananas. We’ve also included directions for making this into muffins and how to double the recipe and freeze one batch for later.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (about 1 banana)
  • 1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour (Sub: white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (Sub: all purpose flour or whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (or muffin tin) with cooking spray
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the bananas, pumpkin, yogurt, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar, until well combined. (Or, put all the wet ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Use a spatula to help remove it in the next step.)
  3. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flours*, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add this flour mixture to the wet mixture; stir just until blended. *Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. 
  4. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (or evenly into the muffin cups). Use a scraper to make sure all the batter gets used.
  5. For the bread, bake for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (For muffins, bake at for 15-18 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean.)
  6. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove bread or muffins from pan and cool completely. (Freezing instructions begin here.)

Freeze For Later: Bake and cool completely. Remove bread from pan and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and a layer of foil. For muffins, remove from pan, place in freezer bag in a single layer, press out all air, and seal. Freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw in fridge or on counter or use defrost setting of microwave. Warm in 15 second increments in microwave.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

By Polly Conner

This Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken recipe is easy, tasty, freezer-friendly, and made in the crock pot. Shred up those tender chicken thighs and serve it over rice for a delicious, filling dinner. For a dump and go crock pot freezer meal, it doesn’t get much better!

Slow cooker teriyaki chicken on a plate with green onion

Oh man, was this Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki good. Yes, I do repeat. This is a GREAT SLOW COOKER RECIPE. I have tried one too many slow cooker recipes that have failed to impress me, but this one is a keeper.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken?

The ingredients are simple. I bet you have most of them at home already! Here is what you’ll need…

Ingredients in slow cooker teriyaki chicken
  • Olive or avocado oil to saute the onions
  • 1/2 onion, diced – We found that this needs to be sauteed in order to be done when the chicken is done. If not, you’ll have crunchy onions!
  • Garlic cloves, minced – Shortcut: 1-2 teaspoons pre-minced garlic
  • Soy sauce Gluten-Free Option: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar 
  • Rice wine vinegar 
  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (This is where we get our favorite organic chicken*.) – You can also use boneless, skinless thighs!
  • Cornstarch – To thicken the sauce at the end.

*affiliate link

That’s it! In fact, watch this short video to see how easily Teriyaki Chicken comes together:

How Long Do I Cook Chicken Thighs in the Slow Cooker?

There is a lot of misinformation out there about how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker. After testing hundreds and hundreds of slow cooker recipes for our cookbooks, we have nailed down the perfect cooking times for all the most common cuts of meat. In fact, we created a free, printable slow cooker cooking times chart. You can download it and print it off to have on hand for the future.

When it comes to chicken thighs, we have found it’s always best to cook them on Low and only for 3-4 hours at the very most. While chicken thighs can cook a bit longer than chicken breast, they will definitely start to dry out after that amount of time cooking.

Teriyaki chicken thighs in a slow cooker

Can you freeze Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki?

Yes! This recipe makes for an awesome make ahead Crock Pot freezer meal. Here’s how:

To Freeze For Later: Place the raw chicken thighs and all of the marinade ingredients (except for the cornstarch) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

To Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and then cook as directed.

Teriyaki Chicken thighs in a freezer bag with marinade

Can I add vegetables to this meal in the slow cooker?

While you can for sure add vegetables to the recipe in the slow cooker, I’d recommend giving them a quick saute on the stove instead and then stirring them in at the very end. That way they stay fresh and crisp. When cooked in the slow cooker, vegetables can get a little soggy.

I also love to serve it over a bed of brown rice.

Teriyaki chicken on a serving platter with vegetables

Can I use other cuts of chicken instead of thighs?

You bet! Just use our cooking times chart to navigate how long to cook the chicken for in the slow cooker.

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Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Description

This fast, healthy chicken teriyaki dinner will thoroughly impress your family and friends. The best part – it’s made in the slow cooker, so you have very little work to do!


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (Shortcut: 12 teaspoons pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (Gluten-Free Option: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (This is where we get our favorite organic chicken*.)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

*affiliate link


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and saute for another 30-60 seconds. (Shortcut: Place the onions and oil in a small microwaveable bowl and microwave for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and microwave for another 30-60 seconds.) Add to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and honey to the slow cooker and whisk until combined. Nestle the chicken into the bottom and make sure it’s coated in the sauce.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, until internal temperature registers to 165°F.
  4. When chicken is done, remove it from the marinade to a serving platter*. Then, carefully pour the marinade into a medium sauce pan.
  5. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together 3 tablespoons cold water and the cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and no longer lumpy.
  6. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the teriyaki sauce mixture, and whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, and let it cook for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.
  7. Pour the sauce over the top of of the chicken until it is well coated. (This won’t take all of the marinade; you will have some remaining). Optional: Using two forks, shred the chicken and serve over rice.

Freeze For Later: Place the raw chicken thighs and all of the marinade ingredients (except for the cornstarch) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and then cook as directed in Step 3.

COOKING NOTES:

*If you want the skin on the chicken to be crispy, transfer it to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil the chicken under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, until crispy. Keep a close eye on it.

Want More Slow Cooker Freezer Meals?

We have an amazon collection of make ahead crock pot meals. Here is a great round up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes to get you started!

slow cooker and crock pot Recipes for groups of people

Southwest Chicken Tenders

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This southwest chicken recipe is sure to please all the eaters in your house. It’s easy, healthy, freezer-friendly, and full of flavor but not spicy. You can bake it or–even better–grill it!

Southwest Chicken tenders on a white plate and on the grill

These Southwest Chicken Tenders take main stage in our Southwest Chicken and Bacon Wraps and Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls recipes. However, we’ve also learned that they are delicious on a salad or a chicken sandwich. There are so many ways to use them.

How to Make Southwest Chicken Tenders

Just check out how easily this southwest chicken recipe comes together…

Do I have to use chicken tenders for this Southwest Chicken recipe?

Heavens, no! We know our readers love versatility. The marinade will work for almost any cut of chicken. You can use it on:

  • Chicken breasts
  • Drumsticks
  • Thighs
  • And, of course, tenders.
southwest chicken marinade in a freezer bag with chicken breasts

What Ingredients are in the marinade?

As a mom of three younger kids, what I love about this marinade is that it’s so very flavorful but not too spicy. The resulting meal is a home run with all ages. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Avocado or olive oil – Use a fairly neutral oil keeps things moist without an overpowering flavor.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Cider vinegar adds a delicious twist on the acid component but white vinegar will work.
  • Fresh chopped cilantro (or parsley) – Adds a pop of green and fresh flavor. Use dried parsley (half the amount) as a sub.
  • Chili powder – Smoky, subtle heat from ground chilis. Flavor can vary between brands.
  • Garlic powder – This pantry staple adds big (and convenient) garlic flavor that rounds out the whole marinade.
  • Ground cumin – Love this smoky yet not spicy addition.
  • Dried oregano – Crush in your hand before adding to release the oils in this dried herb.
  • Salt – A must in any chicken marinade.
  • Ground black pepper – Gives a little bite. Add more if you’d like.
Ingredients in a southwest chicken recipe

Can I Freeze Southwest Chicken Tenders?

YES YES YES!

This recipe is one of my go-to freezer meals. It’s so easy to scale up and make multiple batches at once.

HOW TO FREEZE:

Combine all ingredients except the chicken tenders in a large freezer bag, seal, and shake. Add chicken tenders, seal tightly, and shake again. Label and freeze.

HOW TO THAW AND PREPARE:

Place the frozen chicken in the fridge and let thaw for about 24 hours. If you need your chicken defrosted sooner, use one of these safe thawing methods.

Southwest Chicken recipe in a freezer bag
 

How Should I Cook Southwest Chicken Tenders?

The two best ways to prepare southwest chicken tenders are:

Grill it!

Grill chicken tenders over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side. Chicken is done when there is no longer any pink inside or it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. (source)

Bake it!

Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time. Chicken is done when there is no longer any pink inside or it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. (source)

Southwestern Chicken on a grill

How Should I Serve Southwest Chicken Tenders?

Here are some ways to use your chicken tenders:

  1. Serve them in Southwest Chicken and Bacon Wraps. This is my personal favorite, and I make it all the time for groups.

2. Use it for Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls. We love this option, because everyone can personalize their own bowl.

3. Turn it into a chicken sandwich like the Gourmet Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

Create the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight by prepping and freezing all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads.

4. Dice the chicken and use on top of a salad, perhaps with our Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette.

However you serve it, be sure to double and freeze a batch for later. Your crew is going to love this southwest chicken recipe!

Print

Southwest Chicken Tenders

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These southwest chicken tenders are sure to please all the eaters in your house. They are full of flavor but not spicy. 


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or white vinegar (Gluten-Free: Make sure your vinegar is gluten-free.)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken tenders in a large zip top bag and shake. Add chicken tenders and shake again. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place bag in a dish and set in the refrigerator. Let chicken marinate for 2 and up to 24 hours, occasionally turning the bag to evenly distribute the marinade.
  3. Cook the chicken using one of the following two methods. Chicken is done when you cut into it and there is no more pink or it registers 165°F internally. Do not overcook. 
    1. OPTION ONE: GRILLING – Grill chicken tenders over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side. 
    2. OPTION TWO: BAKING – Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes, flipping half way through. 

Freeze For Later: Follow Step 1. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook the chicken according to Step 3.

Southwest chicken tenders after being grilled

Crowd Pleaser Mexican Soup

By Polly Conner

This is the only Mexican Soup recipe you’ll ever need. I’ve been making a variation of this soup for my family and guests for years.

Mexican soup in a white bowl with toppings

Affiliate links are used this this post.

One of the things I appreciate most about this Mexican Soup recipe is its versatility. It can be made on the stove, in the slow cooker, or in the Instant Pot. It’s also a crowd-pleaser and makes a large batch, so it’s a great recipe for groups of people or to use as a make ahead freezer meal. And get this: this soup is made with real food ingredients.

Seriously, you need this soup in your kitchen! 

How to Make Mexican Soup: You Choose!

There aren’t many soups that can be made every which way. This is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this recipe! Here’s a quick overview of your options:

MAKE MEXICAN SOUP ON THE STOVE:

After cooking the onions and the beef in a skillet, add all the ingredients into a large stockpot. Simmer for 1-2 hours.

MAKE MEXICAN SOUP IN THE SLOW COOKER:

After cooking the onions and the beef in a skillet, add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

MAKE MEXICAN SOUP IN THE INSTANT POT:

Use the sauté setting to cook the onions and beef. Add all the ingredients in, lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure.

Mexican soup in a white bowl

Can I Freeze this Mexican Soup recipe?

Yes yes yes! Mexican soup freezes and thaws beautifully BEFORE or AFTER cooking. Because it makes such a big batch, I almost always freeze it in small portions to have for lunches down the road. When frozen after cooking, it can also be a great freezer meal for 1-2 people.

TO FREEZE:

Option 1 (Before Cooking): Cook the onions and beef, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, and freezer in airtight freezer containers.

Option 2 (After Cooking): Follow all of the cooking instructions in the recipe below. Let cool and freeze in airtight freezer containers.

TO PREPARE:

Option 1 (Before Cooking): Let the soup thaw completely. Then follow the cooking instructions for whatever cooking method you choose (see options below).

Option 2 (After Cooking): Let soup thaw completely. Then just warm up in the microwave or on the stove on low until desired temp.

Mexican soup with toppings and spoon

Where to Get Ground Beef You Can Trust

A recipe is only as good as the ingredients in it. This is why we continually nudge people to use high-quality, organic produce and meat if possible.

One EASY way to have humanely raised 100% grass-fed beef delivered to your door is through ButcherBox.

What is ButcherBox?

ButcherBox has high-quality meat delivered to your door… easy and convenient. They carry humanely raised 100% grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage breed pork, and wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon all free of antibiotics and added hormones.

Polly Conner with ButcherBox

What Should I Serve with Mexican Soup?

Believe me when I say this soup is hearty. You won’t need much more to go with it other than tortilla chips or maybe some corn bread. I like to provide some optional toppings like:

Want More Recipes That Are Great for Groups?

Check out our roundup of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes for Groups of People.

Ok, ready to chow down on some Crowd Pleaser Mexican Soup? Get after it!

Print

Crowd Pleaser Mexican Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

Super easy Mexican soup recipe. Packed with flavor, very filling and makes a TON. Great recipe for large groups. Freezer friendly as well!


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (or sub ground chicken or turkey) (where to find meat you can trust)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt (Sub: 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt)
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 2 (15 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes, juices and all (Tip: Use fire-roasted tomatoes for more flavor.)
  • 2 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies, juices and all
  • 2 (15 oz) cans shoe peg white corn, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 quart of chicken broth 
  • 1 cup mild salsa (use medium if you like spice!)
  • Optional Toppings: Shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, salsa, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, squeeze of fresh lime, red onion

 


Instructions

Make It Now

Stove Top Method

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. 
  2. Add in garlic and ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat as it cooks, until the meat is cooked through (5-7 minutes.) Drain the grease from the meat.
  3. Add the meat mixture and all other ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Optional: Serve with your favorite Tex Mex toppings.

Slow Cooker Method

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. 
  2. Add in garlic and ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat as it cooks, until the meat is cooked through (5-7 minutes.) Drain the grease from the meat.
  3. Add the meat mixture and all other ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
  4. Optional: Serve with your favorite Tex Mex toppings.

Instant Pot Method

  1. Set the 6-quart Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat until shimmery. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper while they cook. 
  2. Add in garlic and ground beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat as it cooks, until the meat is cooked through (5-7 minutes.) Press cancel. Drain the grease from the meat.
  3. Add all other ingredients to the Instant Pot. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. 
  4. Optional: Serve with your favorite Tex Mex toppings.

Freeze For Later

Option 1 (Before Cooking): Cook the onions and beef, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, and freezer in airtight freezer containers.

Option 2 (After Cooking): Follow all of the cooking instructions in the recipe. Let the soup cool and then freeze in airtight freezer containers.

Prepare From Frozen

Option 1 (Before Cooking): Let the soup thaw completely. Then follow the cooking instructions for whatever cooking method you choose in the recipe above.

Option 2 (After Cooking): Let soup thaw completely. Then just warm up in the microwave, on the stove on low, or in the slow cooker on low, until warmed through.

Make Ahead Banana Breakfast Cake

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Banana Breakfast Cake is my dream breakfast. My whole family likes it, it’s full of nutritious yet simple ingredients, and it works perfectly to double the batch to make a breakfast freezer meal. 

Make Ahead Banana Breakfast Cake

I’ve been making this breakfast cake for YEARS. It’s one of my go-to make ahead breakfast recipe ideas that my whole family will devour.

Think moist, sweet banana bread but in a cake form. I love to warm it up a bit and serve with a little bit of butter.

The best part: It is filled with banana and sneaky sweet potato! YES, you can get your crew to eat sweet potato for breakfast!

What’s in Banana Breakfast Cake?

As I mentioned before, this breakfast cake is made with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Bananas – The riper the better. Pro-tip: You can freeze ripe bananas for recipes like this! Here’s how to freeze bananas.
  • Cooked sweet potato – You can also substitute canned pumpkin or cooked butternut squash for sweet potato.
  • White Whole Wheat Flour – Please note that this is not just whole wheat flour. It needs to be WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR variety. If you don’t have that, you can use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour as a substitute.
  • Coconut oil – Make sure it’s melted or substitute avocado oil.
  • Plain Greek yogurt – You can use full fat sour cream instead, if you want.
  • Mini Chocolate Chips – I’ve used dark chocolate chips before and loved it!
  • Standard baking ingredients: Eggs, vanilla, sugar (I used coconut sugar), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Slice of banana breakfast cake on a plate

One thing worth noting on this recipe is that you will need a blender. This makes the batter SUPER smooth and hides all the sneaky produce.

How do I Freeze Banana Breakfast Cake?

We are huge fans of make ahead freezer meals. Not only have we written two freezer meal cookbooks, but we have a huge collection of freezer meals that are delicious, healthy, and easy! Banana Breakfast Cake is a recipe that freezes beautifully.

If you are already busting out all of the ingredients and utensils to make this breakfast cake, you might as well make two batches and freeze one for later. Here’s how:

TO FREEZE BREAKFAST CAKE: Bake breakfast cake just until done. Cool completely. Either cover the baking dish tightly in a few layers of foil or plastic wrap or carefully lift the cake out of the baking dish and wrap in several layers of foil or plastic wrap, pressing as much air out as you can.

TO PREPARE BREAKFAST CAKE FROM FROZEN: Thaw on the counter. Warm a slice in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Banana breakfast cake in an 8x8 dish

What Should I Serve with Banana Breakfast Cake?

Our smoothies would be a perfect pairing with breakfast cake. Choose from one of the following flavors!

Another idea would be Oven-Baked Bacon. It comes out perfectly every time using our baking method.

Print

Banana Breakfast Cake

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: one 8x8 pan 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A deliciously moist banana cake that makes a healthy snack or breakfast. You will be surprised how fast your family will empty the dish on this one!


Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (sub: 1 cup wheat flour + 1 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I often use unrefined coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about 1 cup) (sub: pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (sub: avocado oil or melted butter)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (sub: sour cream)
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I used carob chips, since they are low in sugar and dairy-free)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish (or a 9×13 baking dish, but note the shorter cooking time) with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine the bananas, sweet potato, eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, and yogurt. Blend until smooth. (If needed, add just a splash of milk to help the blender get moving.)
  4. Using a spatula to clean out the blender, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir gently with a spoon just until combined (do not over mix). Batter will be thick. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread evenly using a spatula.
  6. Bake for about 35-40 minutes (for a 9×12, bake 25-28 minutes). It’s done when a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

Freeze For Later: Bake breakfast cake just until done. Cool completely. Either cover the baking dish tightly in a few layers of foil or plastic wrap or carefully lift the cake out of the baking dish and wrap in several layers of foil or plastic wrap, pressing as much air out as you can.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw on the counter. Warm a slice in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and top with a pat of butter, if desired.

Young boy holding banana breakfast cake

Want more make ahead freezer meal breakfasts? Hop over to our freezer meal index and browse around!

Top 70+ Healthy Freezer Meals (Best of the Best by Category!)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for healthy freezer meals.

As freezer meal experts (and self-proclaimed “freezer cooking evangelists”), we’ve published TWO freezer meal cookbooks, had freezer meal recipes featured on Hallmark Home & Family, People Magazine, and many more media outlets.

We know what makes a great freezer meal and after testing hundreds and hundreds of recipes over 10 years, we’ve narrowed down the best of the best healthy freezer meals for you.

Our make ahead freezer meal recipes are easy, made with real food ingredients, and delicious. You’re going to want to pin this one, my friends!

Polly Conner & Rachel Tiemeyer cooking + collage of freezer meals

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

Why should I make freezer meals?

Freezer cooking has transformed the way we grocery shop, cook, and eat over the past 10+ years. We were both in Freezer Clubs for many years while our kids were young. Today, we cook and freeze in bulk every single week on our own. From our experience, preparing healthy freezer meals has so many benefits:

  • Saves money by buying in bulk and avoiding eating out.
  • Cuts down on time in the kitchen by prepping meals with the same ingredients at one time. Browning ground beef? Chopping veggies? Making soup? Why not double or triple it and then utilize the freezer? You save time on prep and clean up. 
  • Helps you eat wholesome, delicious meals at home regularly. 
  • Reduces dinnertime stress while bringing your family together around the table. This is what freezer cooking is really all about! 
Chicken Taquitos rolled up and in a freezer bag for a freezer meal.

What is considered a healthy freezer meal?

In these 70+ healthy freezer meal recipes below, you’ll see our real food philosophy represented. We aren’t about diets, eating low-fat foods, or cutting out food groups.

We are about cooking tasty, homemade food and eating all things in moderation. We’re also about cooking with as many unprocessed, organic and/or local ingredients as possible, including a variety of:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • whole grains
  • local, organic, and/or grass-fed meats (that’s why we’re big fans of Butcher Box*)
  • healthy fats (i.e. olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and organic dairy)

*affiliate link

By simply making homemade meals for your family, you are cutting out loads of sodium, sugar, simple carbs, and harmful trans-fats that come from fast food and store-bought convenience foods. You control what goes in your food. Plus, you’ll be motivated to grab what’s on hand rather than going out to eat.

Rachel Tiemeyer and Polly Conner

What’s the best way to store freezer meals?

The best way to store and save a freezer meal is in any method that will prevent air from getting to the food. It really depends on the recipe! If you want more detail on how to properly freeze food, we have written a whole post about the 5 Best Ways to Package and Store Freezer Meals.

Meaty marinara in a freezer container

What’s the best way to thaw a freezer meal?

Great question! There are 3 Safe Ways to Thaw Freezer Meals that we recommend.

Freezer friendly breakfast sandwiches

We are pumped to share our 70+ favorite healthy freezer meal recipes in one post. But, for some, we realize that number can be overwhelming. If you want this list narrowed down, we have a free eBook of our Top 10 Easy Freezer Meals.

70+ Healthy Freezer Meals

Freezing instructions are included at the end of each recipe.  Please share your successes, tips, or questions in the comments. We’re here to help (and genuinely love to)!

Top 10 Breakfast Freezer Meals

Top 10 make ahead breakfast freezer meals

1. Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

2. Easy Breakfast Casserole Muffins

3. Freezer Smoothie Packs: 7 Recipes + Printable Labels + Shopping List!

4. Pumpkin Muffins with Crumble Topping

5. Breakfast Burritos

6. Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

7. Double Chocolate Zucchini Waffles

8. Savory Breakfast Muffins

9. Chocolate Sweet Potato Banana Bread

10. Make-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

Bonus: 7 Overnight Oats Recipes: These aren’t a freezer meal but you can make them ahead for the week and store in the fridge!

Top 10 Chicken Freezer Meals

Top 10 Make Ahead Chicken Freezer Meals Collage

1. On the Go Chicken Burritos

2. Southwest Grilled Chicken Tenders

3. Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

4. Cheesy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

5. Chicken Parmesan Casserole

6. Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

7. Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches

8. Lemon Garlic Chicken

9. Honey Garlic Chicken Kabobs

10. Baked Chicken Spaghetti

Top 10 Beef Freezer Meals

Top 10 Make Ahead Beef Freezer Meals collage

1. Super Sloppy Joes

2. Baked Italian Meatballs

3. Beefy Baked Ravioli

4. Mini Meatloaf Muffins

5. Taco Kit Using this Seasoning

6. No Peek Beef Stew

7. Balsamic Shredded Beef

8. Hearty Baked Penne Pasta

9. Pesto Burgers

10. Crowd Pleaser Mexican Soup

Tip: This is the place where we both source our grass-fed beef (and it’s delivered to our doorsteps)

Top 10 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

Top 10 make ahead slow cooker freezer meals

1. Slow Cooker BBQ Beef

2. Slow Cooker Honey Bourbon Chicken

3. French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

4. Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

5. Cilantro Lime Chicken

6. Chicken Fiesta Soup

7. Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

8. Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup

9. Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

10. Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Bonus: Never overcook (or undercook!) a slow cooker meal again. Download our printable Slow Cooker Cooking Times Chart!

Top 10 Instant Pot Freezer Meals

Top 10 Make Ahead Instant Pot Freezer Meals

1. Instant Pot BBQ Beef Sandwiches

2. Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

3. Vegetable Soup

4. Tomato Soup

5. Crispy Carnitas

6. Chicken Parmesan Sliders

7. Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats

8. Chicken Nachos

9. BBQ Pulled Pork

10. Beef Stew

Did you know we have an Instant Pot cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker? While testing recipes for this book, we honed in on the best timing and methods for cooking different types of meals in the Instant Pot. We are excited to share this valuable information with you.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE VERSION OF OUR INSTANT POT COOKING TIMES CHART HERE.

Top 10 Vegetarian Freezer Meals

Top 10 Make Ahead Vegetarian Freezer Meals Collage

1. English Muffin Pizzas

2. Tortilla Soup

3. Hash Brown Casserole (omit bacon)

4. 20 Minute Pumpkin Chili

5. Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

6. Hearty Vegetable Soup

7. Cancer Fighting Soup

8. Autumn Chowder (omit bacon)

9. Tomato Bisque

10. Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

Top 10 Misc. Freezer Meals

10 Surprising Make Ahead Freezer meals collage

1. Chicken Burrito Bowls

2. Ham & Cheese Sliders

3. Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes (or Super Stuffed Potatoes)

4. Turkey Pesto Paninis

5. Mediterranean Shrimp

6. Asian Lettuce Wraps

7. Powerball Cookies

8. Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

9. Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub

10. Chocolate Oatmeal Energy Bites

We hope our monster list of healthy freezer meals helps your home run just a little smoother!

Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

By Polly Conner

Who doesn’t love a simple BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich with moist shredded meat? After a day in the slow cooker, this shredded pork is a total crowd pleaser. Not only is it an easy dump and go meal for the Crockpot but it also makes a great make-ahead freezer meal!

Slow cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches on a yellow plate
Image Credit: Hélène Dujardin in From Freezer to Cooker

Why We Love Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This BBQ Pulled Pork has been a regular around our house. It’s SUPER easy, freezes beautifully, and makes a lot of servings. Since we used rolls to turn the last batch into pulled pork sandwiches, it was enough to feed 10+ people!

A butcher will tell you to plan for 1/2 pound per person but I find that to be pretty generous. I guess it just depends on the appetites of those you are feeding.

How to Make Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (A short video tutorial)

This crock pot pulled pork recipe is hard to screw up. Watch and see how easy it comes together!

What Ingredients do I need to make Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork?

The ingredients are SO simple! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1, 3-4 lb. pork shoulder (also known as Boston butt)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (Here is our homemade recipe)
Ingredients for slow cooker bbq pulled pork

How Long Do I Cook Pork Shoulder in the Slow Cooker?

After testing hundreds of recipes for our slow cooker cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we found that cooking a 3-4 pound pork shoulder should take 7-9 hours depending on your slow cooker.

Oftentimes, people take the pork out too early because it appears to be tough and dry. However, the pork needs lots of time to break down the fibers holding the meat together. When cooked correctly, pork in the slow cooker should be tender and juicy.

Cooked pulled pork on a wooden spoon coming out of the slow cooker

After years of testing slow cooker recipes for our website and cookbooks, we’ve developed a reliable cooking times chart for all different types of recipes. Never overcook or undercook a recipe in the slow cooker again!

How to serve Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

My favorite way to eat it is as a sandwich. If you want to go gluten-free, eat it without a bun. I serve it with more Killer Homemade BBQ Sauce on the side. Some side dishes that go well with Slow Cooker Pulled Pork are:

BBQ Pulled Pork on a plate with asian slaw

Can I freeze pulled pork?

YES! Like so many of our freezer meal recipes, BBQ Pulled Pork works great as a make-ahead freezer meal. To make this recipe into a freezer meal, follow these instructions:

TO FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the seasoned pork and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. Place the remaining 1 ⁄2 cup BBQ sauce in a small freezer bag or container and the buns in a separate freezer bag. Seal and freeze them alongside the pork.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Thaw. Place the pork in the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 through 6.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich on a white plate

This is a great recipe to stock up on when pork goes on sale! Such an easy freezer meal and a great meal to take to others.

Print

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 810 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This pulled pork recipe is a cinch to make when you whip it up in the crockpot. Add some BBQ sauce and your dinner is done!


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 (3- to 4-pound) pork shoulder (also known as Boston butt), trimmed

  • 1.5 cups BBQ sauce, homemade or your favorite all-natural store-bought BBQ sauce


Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pat the pork shoulder dry with paper towels and rub it with the seasoning mix to coat all sides. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Place the seasoned pork in the slow cooker and top with 1 cup of the BBQ sauce.
  4. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 9 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat easily shreds.
  5. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and shred the meat. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir it into the sauce.
  6. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to the toasted buns and top with the remaining BBQ sauce as desired. Serve.

FREEZE FOR LATER:

Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the seasoned pork and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce in a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze. Place the remaining 1 2 cup BBQ sauce in a small freezer bag or container and the buns in a separate freezer bag. Seal and freeze them alongside the pork.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN:

Thaw. Place the pork in the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 through 6.

Making this for a group of people? Here are more recipe ideas for large groups if you need some! You can also check out our 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes for a Crowd if you want more ideas.

Collage image of 20+ meal ideas for groups of people

Oatmeal Pancake Mix

By Polly Conner

Oatmeal pancakes are hearty, flavorful, and full of grains that won’t leave you hungry hours later. You’ll never go back to boxed pancake mix after seeing how easy it is to make to make your own oatmeal mix at home.

Oatmeal pancakes

Why Oatmeal Pancakes are Amazing

Broadly speaking, making food from scratch usually tastes better and is healthier than packaged food. You’re avoiding additives and preservatives and using real food ingredients.

Traditional pancakes are mostly a combination of refined flour and sugar. That means that while delicious, they’re a simple carb that will cause your blood sugar to spike — giving you a quick burst of energy but leaving you hungry shortly after.

I am far too familiar with the sugar crashes of a high-carb breakfast. No fun! The good news is, adding a whole grain counters this problem. Oats are full of fiber and are a surprisingly good source of protein

The addition of blended up oats to the mix also gives these pancakes a hearty, yet still light and fluffy, texture.

Oatmeal pancakes on a plate

What’s in Oatmeal Pancake Mix?

Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need to make your oatmeal pancake mix:

  • Oats – quick or rolled work.
  • Whole wheat flour
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable/canola oil or melted coconut oil

This mix will make about 10 cups all said and done.

Oatmeal Pancake Mix

Do I need a food processor for the oats?

Yes.

Glad we had this chat.

OK, but for real, you’ll need to blend up the oats in a food processor in order to turn them into a course, flour-like texture. That’s what helps them blend into the mix so well.

Oatmeal pancakes

Can I Freeze Oatmeal Pancake Mix?

YES!

After making the mix, simply store it in an airtight container and stick it in your refrigerator or freezer. The mix will be great for 3-6 months (maybe even longer if packaged well.)

How to Make Oatmeal Pancakes

When you want to make some pancakes, whisk together 1 cup of mix, about 3/4 cup of milk and one egg. The mixture may seem thin at first but the oats will soak up the milk and it thickens as it stands. If it seems too thick, just add more milk. If it seems too thin, just add more mix. It’s hard to mess up!

Oatmeal pancakes

Pair these pancakes with one of our smoothies and you’ll have one healthy & delicious breakfast!

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I LOVE this oatmeal pancake recipe. After this hearty, flavorful recipe for pancake mix, I will never go back to plain pancakes again. It's also packed with good ingredients that keep you fuller longer.

Oatmeal Pancake Mix

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: about 10 cups (enough to make 6070 4-inch pancakes) 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This oatmeal pancake recipe is packed with high quality ingredients that will satisfy all your hungry eaters. Make a batch to throw in the freezer and pull out for a fantastic homemade breakfast!


Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups oats
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable/canola oil or melted coconut oil

Instructions

To make dry mix:

  1. Grind oats up in a blender or food processor.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixer with a paddle (or by hand).
  3. With mixer on slow speed (or gently by hand), drizzle the oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

To make the pancakes:

  1. Note: 1 cup of dry mix will make about 6-7 four-inch pancakes.
  2. Whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1/2-1 cup of milk and one egg. The mixture may seem thin at first but the oats will soak up the milk as it stands while the griddle preheats.
  3. Heat a griddle and drop the batter onto it. When edges start to look dry, give them a flip! Cook until desired consistency.

Notes

Freezer Meal Instructions:
To Freeze: Make the mix as directed. Place into an airtight container (or gallon-sized freezer bag) and freeze.
To Prepare: Pull out desired about of mix to make pancakes. Put remaining mix back in freezer.

Make sure to serve it with our perfectly cooked bacon!

cooked bacon

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These salmon and sweet potato cakes are packed with nutrition and flavor! Enjoy them as a sandwich or a la carte. Freezing instructions included!

salmon cakes on a plate with lettuce and tartar sauce

I love cooking shows. And, there’s one Food Network star who will always have a special place in my heart. Can you guess who?

Rach, of course! I watched 30 Minute Meals pretty consistently for over 10 years. Honestly, a large majority of what I know in the kitchen, from tips to ingredients to technique, I learned directly from her.

I saw Rachael Ray make a similar version of these Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes on her show and knew I had to try them. Over the years, I’ve made these few times and tweaked the recipe to make it a little more user-friendly.

Why I Love These Salmon Cakes

I love them because they are super nutritious, my kids will actually eat them(!), and they freeze nicely so I can make a big batch for later. Don’t worry, there’s no fishy-ness in these cakes. All the different flavors and textures make them absolutely great, in my opinion.

How to Make Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

Check out how easily this recipe comes together!

What Ingredients are in Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes?

This delicious recipe uses two of the best super foods on the planet!

Wild Salmon Filets – The big gun ingredient is the Omega 3-rich wild salmon which the American diet is sorely lacking in. The salmon provides heart-healthy fat and lots of protein.

Note: Be sure to buy WILD salmon, NOT farm-raised salmon. That’s because many studies have shown there are 10 times as many PCBs in farmed fish. Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an article here says,

Basically, that’s a reflection of how much pesticides, antibiotics, other contaminants are used in raising these farmed fish. There’s higher pesticide levels in the farmed fish….They actually raise these farmed fish (with large numbers in pens) … You actually have to give them antibiotics. And a lot of the PCBs and toxins are all part of the farming process that are used to try and keep these fish free of disease….sometimes even inject fish like salmon with red dye or pink dye to make them look more pink, more like their wild counterparts.

– Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Wild Salmon is readily available and affordable in most grocery stores now, but the tastiest Wild salmon I’ve had is from ButcherBox. It’s where I get all of my meat, because they offer affordable, healthy (and delicious!) meat from small farmers that is delivered to my doorstep on my schedule. (Cancel any time.)

Sweet Potato Puree – One of the top super foods in the world, packed with plenty of minerals, fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients that help both your body and mind.  The sweet potato helps as a binder (instead of mayo!) and lends a slightly sweet taste.

You can find sweet potato puree in a can or you can easily make your own. Simply poke some holes in a few sweet potatoes using a knife. Place them in the microwave and cook in 2 minute increments. Turn the potatoes between increments and cook until soft and tender all the way through. Use a knife to check. Mine usually take about 5 minutes.

Other Ingredients:

  • Seafood seasoning – Recommended: Old Bay Seasoning.
  • Whole wheat crackers – Panko breadcrumbs would work instead.
  • Egg – Helps to bind the mixture.
  • Fresh thyme leaves and fresh parsley – These fresh herbs add depth of flavor.
  • Scallions or green onions – Adds a little pungent flavor
  • Hot sauce – Optional, but lends a touch of heat.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Another heart-healthy oil that you’ll use to grease the pan.

How to Serve Salmon Cakes

First of all, I’d highly recommend making our Avocado Aioli sauce to top these cakes. The creaminess and beautiful color of the sauce contrasts well with the warm, crispy salmon patties. You can also use an all-natural Tartar Sauce for serving, if you want.

My kids liked them on mini buns with a slice of cheese on top, like a burger. I ate these Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes a la carte with some of the Avocado Aioli sauce on top. Delicious!

With these salmon cakes as the center piece of your meal, all you need are a few simple, healthy sides. Here are a few ideas:

How to Freeze Salmon Cakes

It’s easy to freeze salmon cakes. They turn out tasting just like you made them fresh, if you freeze them this way:

Freeze For Later: Put the salmon cakes together, but do not cook them. Freeze in a freezer bag or container in a single layer. If stacking patties, divide single layers with parchment paper.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw completely in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Then cook according to the directions.

More Salmon Recipes:

Here are few more salmon recipes from our collection you might enjoy…

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes Recipe

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Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 24 mins
  • Cook Time: 6 mins
  • Total Time: 26 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Skillet
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Description

These salmon and sweet potato cakes are packed with nutrition and flavor! Enjoy them as a sandwich or a la carte. With a small amount of effort, you’ll make a meal your family is sure to love.


Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed* (about 1 cup)
  • 3 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth (sub: water)
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat crackers, crushed into crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 scallions or green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Bring the broth to a boil in a large skillet or pot over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. 
  2. Season salmon fillets lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully lower them down into the liquid, making sure they are submerged. (Note: If the broth doesn’t cover the top of the filets, add just enough water to make sure they are covered.) Poach until the salmon is opaque, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the salmon to a mixing bowl and flake the fish with a fork. Add in the mashed sweet potatoes, seafood seasoning, half of the cracker crumbs, the egg, thyme, hot sauce, scallions, and parsley. Using your hands or a fork, combine until the mixture is firm enough to mold into cakes. (If it’s too wet, add a few more cracker crumbs.)
  4. Add the remaining cracker crumbs to a plate. Form the salmon mixture into four (4-inch) patties or eight (2-inch) patties and coat in the cracker crumbs on both sides. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  5. Discard the liquid from the skillet and wipe it clean. In that same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmery.
  6. Cook the fish cakes until light golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  7. Serving suggestion: Serve with tartar sauce for dipping or serve on buns with cheese on top, like a burger.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-4. Freeze in a freezer bag or container in a single layer. If stacking patties, divide single layers with parchment paper.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw completely. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Follow Steps 5-7.


Notes

*To cook and mash the sweet potato: Wash and dry it. Poke several holes around it using a knife, so steam can release while it cooks. Microwave it for 2 minutes. Flip it over and microwave another 2-3 minutes, until soft all the way through. Test doneness by inserting a knife into the middle. It should give easily.

Super Sloppy Joes

By Rachel Tiemeyer

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

Sloppy Joes in a bun on a plate with salad

After polling dozens of my friends and family, I learned that Sloppy Joes are quite the divisive meal. People either love them or hate them.

I counted myself as a hater until just a few years ago because I always envisioned the canned version from childhood. Yuck!

sloppy joes mixture in a pan

However, I decided to give this poor man’s entree a try again, albeit the non-canned, non-processed, veggie-rich, grass-fed beef version.

Why? Simply, my husband loves them and my kids will eat them.

ingredients for sloppy joes recipe including red pepper, garlic, ground beef, tomato sauce

And I was won over by this particular recipe; the tangy-sweet tomato sauce surprised me in a good way. Plus, you know I love any recipe where I can sneak in more vegetables for my family.

Now these are the only Sloppy Joes my family (and Polly’s family) likes!

How to Make Super Sloppy Joes

Watch this 1 minute video tutorial to see just how easy it is to make sloppy joes from scratch…

How to Freeze Sloppy Joes for Later

sloppy joes mixture in small freezer containers

A smart idea is to package up any of the leftovers into individual serving sizes and freeze them for easy lunches in the future. Or, of course, you can always double this recipe and freeze an entire batch for another family meal, another night.

How to Freeze for Later: To make sloppy joes into a freezer meal, fully cook an then let the sloppy joe mixture cool. Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing. Here are our favorite freezer containers.

How to Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Serve as directed in the recipe.

Serving Suggestions for Super Sloppy Joes

We served our sloppy joe mixture on whole wheat hamburger buns. Tip: Toast the insides of the buns under the broiler for a minute, so they hold up well.

We like to serve them with Oven Steak Fries and a simple green salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing.

Two plates with forks and sloppy joes, fries, and salad

Sloppy Joes Recipe

Full of veggies and flavor, you’ll love our freezer-friendly Super Sloppy Joes recipe…

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Super Sloppy Joes

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This homemade version of Sloppy Joes is packed with veggies and has such great flavor! Your family will never ask for the canned variety again.


Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed; we get ours here)
  • 2 teaspoons all-natural steak seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans unsalted tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns (or 8 mini buns), toasted (Gluten-Free Option: Use GF buns.)
  • Optional: cheddar cheese slices (Omit this for the Dairy-Free Option.)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, until shimmery. Add the ground beef* to the pan and begin to break it up while it browns. Sprinkle the brown sugar and steak seasoning evenly over the meat and continue to stir and break it up until it has browned completely. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and place it over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. When the oil is shimmery, add the carrot, onion, red peppers to the skillet. Cook until veggies are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire during the last 30-60 seconds of cook time.
  3. Stir in the cooked meat, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and maple syrup to the veggies until combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Taste and season with salt, if needed. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile meat mixture onto toasted bun bottoms**. Add a slice of cheese, if desired, and top with bun.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3 and let the Sloppy Joes mixture cool (see our tips for doing this quickly here). Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Follow Step 4.


Notes

*You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the ground beef, if desired.

**To toast the hamburger buns, place them on a sheet pan with the insides facing up. Preheat the oven’s broiler to high and broil them on the top rack for about a minute or until golden brown. Watch closely so they don’t burn!

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

Check out our Top 10 Ground Beef Freezer Meals!

Ground Beef Freezer Meals

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This pantry staple Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe is a meatless “one pot wonder” that I’ve been making and freezing for years for my family. Filled with beans, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and more, it only gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Photo Credit: Hélène Dejardin: From Freezer to Cooker

Why Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup?

Years ago I implemented a small goal of having at least one day a week be meatless for our family. This is for three reasons: it’s cheap, it’s often healthier, and it’s better for the environment (raising animals utilizes much more of our natural resources than raising crops).

The great thing about Vegetarian Tortilla Soup is that it’s hearty enough for any meat eater in your family and makes a big batch for a crowd or just to have on hand all week long.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup in a large stock pot

Another benefit is the flexibility of this soup. You can prepare it on the stove, in the Instant pot, or in the slow cooker. Plus, we also include instructions for how to make it ahead and freeze a batch for later.

Not only that, but you can use up what you have on hand with this “kitchen sink”-type soup. Don’t have green chilis? Add a little more salsa. Don’t have rice? Try quinoa. Have fresh veggies on hand? I’ve thrown in chopped zucchini, spinach, and diced bell pepper before with great results (just cook until they are soft).

Ingredients for Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

While I typically stick to the ingredients below, feel free to use up what you have on hand with this “kitchen sink”-type soup. Don’t have green chilis? Add a little more salsa. Don’t have rice? Try quinoa. Have fresh veggies on hand? I’ve thrown in chopped zucchini, spinach, and diced bell pepper before with great results. They will all cook just fine. Here is where to start though:

  • Vegetable broth or chicken broth (make your own chicken broth here)
  • Vegetarian refried beans
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Petite diced tomatoes
  • Diced green chilis
  • Mild or medium salsa
  • Taco seasoning (Use our homemade taco seasoning here)
  • Cooked brown rice (or throw cauliflower rice in with all the ingredients and cook with all the other ingredients!)

Keep these pantry staple ingredients on hand all the time, and you’ll always have a delicious, healthy meal ready to go in minutes.

Can I Make this Soup in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

Yep!

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: We have written a whole post on how to make Instant Pot Tortilla Soup here. Hop on over!

How to Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

It’s hard to mess up Vegetarian Tortilla Soup! Just follow this simple recipe using either the stovetop or slow cooker instructions. You can also freeze it! Freezer meal instructions are in the recipe.

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This one-pot wonder is packed with flavor but is also vegetarian! This winning combination of ingredients and flavors is sure to impress your family and friends.


Ingredients

  • 1 (32 ounce) box vegetable stock (Sub: chicken stock or broth)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can vegetarian refried beans* (Sub: drained pinto beans that have been smashed with a fork)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (Sub: kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained (Sub: 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (juice and all) (Tip: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are delicious!)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles (Sub: 1/2 cup salsa)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural taco seasoning mix
  • 12 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked quinoa)
  • Optional Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, diced avocado

Instructions

Make It Now:

Stovetop Method: In a large pot, combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Bring to a boil and quickly reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while it cooks. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Uncooked): Combine all ingredients in a pot/bowl, except rice and optional toppings. (Don’t worry if the refried beans aren’t completely integrated.) Carefully ladle the soup into gallon-sized freezer bags or containers and seal. Package the cooked rice in a small freezer bag and freeze alongside the soup.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook the soup according to instructions. Stir in the rice. Let cool. Freeze in freezer bags or containers, as individual servings or one full meal. Freeze until ready to use.

Prepare From Frozen: 

Method 1 (Uncooked): Fully thaw the soup. Cook according to instructions.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked):

Stove or Slow Cooker: Warm over low heat on the stove or in the slow cooker.

Instant Pot: Turn on Saute button and warm over low, stirring frequently.*


Notes

*If you want to cook the soup from frozen in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to freeze it in a round container that is smaller than the diameter of the pot. When ready to cook, turn on the “Saute” function and saute the frozen block of soup for 5-10 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel”. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 12-17 minutes with a quick release.

Gluten-Free: If using a taco seasoning packet from the store, be sure to buy one that is gluten-free.

Dairy-Free: Omit using any cheese or sour cream on top.

Powerball Cookies

By Rachel Tiemeyer
Powerball cookies have been a longtime favorite in my home. Look no further for a great make-ahead, freezer-friendly snack. 
 
No Bake Powerball Cookies on a plate

What’s in these no-bake Powerball Cookies?

With a few simple pantry ingredients, you can whip these up in no time! The beauty of this recipe is the ingredients are somewhat fluid. Add or subtract based on what you like or what you have on hand. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Honey
  • Old-fashioned oats
  • Flax seed (Why eat flaxseed?)
  • Dark chocolate chips (or 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup any combination of these add-ins:
    • chopped nuts (i.e. chopped pecans, sliced almonds, etc.)
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • chia seed
    • soft dried fruits (i.e. raisins, dried cranberries, etc)
Powerball cookie ingredients in white bowls

Once you’ve gotten all of your ingredients beautifully placed in nice, neat, white bowls like above … (JUST KIDDING! No one actually does that unless they are a food blogger, right?!)

Anywhoo, once you’ve rounded up all of the ingredients you want in your powerball cookies, you’ll add them all into a big ‘ol mixing bowl.

Tip: I’ve found that if I warm the peanut butter and honey just a tad it makes it easier to stir all of the ingredients together.

Powerball cookie ingredients being mixed together

Watch How Easily Powerball Cookies Come Together…

How do I store Powerball Cookies?

Here’s the fun part. Using wet hands and/or a small ice cream scoop, form small balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

You’ll freeze them this way so that they hold their form. Once they are frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer container and store them in the freezer.

Be sure to train the kids to know where they are at. They’ll be asking!

A hand holding a powerball cookie

Make sure to make a double batch too. Not only do these make a great afternoon snack, they can also be a great breakfast!

Closeup of powerball cookies
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Powerball Cookies

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3035 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Powerball Cookies are a healthy, real-food snack. Careful, it’s hard to stop at just one!


Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-natural peanut butter or almond butter (crunchy peanut butter is really yummy!)
  • 1 cup honey (I often cut this back to 3/4 cup and make up the 1/4 cup with more nut butter)
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats (quick-cooking works fine)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed (Why eat flaxseed?)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup any combination of these add-ins:
    • chopped nuts (i.e. chopped pecans, sliced almonds, etc)
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • chia seeds
    • soft dried fruits (i.e. raisins, dried cranberries, etc)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the peanut butter and honey until smooth. (Tip: You may want to warm them in the microwave first to make this step easier.)
  2. Stir in oats and flaxseed.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and your 1 cup of preferred add-ins. Stir until well combined.
  4. Using wet hands or a wet cookie scoop, shape the mixture into 30-35 balls. Use a heaping tablespoon of mixture per cookie.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-4. Place the rolled cookies on a sheet pan (line with parchment paper for easier clean up). Place in the freezer for an hour or so, until hardened. Place them into a freezer bag or airtight freezer container for up to 3 months. Prepare From Frozen: Either set cookies out on the counter to thaw slightly or warm in the microwave for about 15 seconds.

Hand grabbing a powerball cookie
 

More Healthy Snacks You Might Like:

 

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This chicken burger recipe is a kid and adult fave! Make ahead and freeze a batch for later or make them tonight for a delicious and healthy dinner.

chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Why Are These the BEST?

I’ve been making these Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs for well over a decade now. In fact, my Freezer Club deemed them a “home run” recipe and it became one that we made for our group several times per year!

Here’s the deal. These miniature patties of ground chicken goodness fit every value I have for a family meal:

Tasty? Check.
Kids like them? Check.
Easy to make? Check.
Healthy? Check.
Freezable? Check.

mini chicken burger recipe

They take just minutes to cook on the stovetop and the taste is out of this world, thanks to fresh garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and the seasoning. The bread crumb coating get toasted on the outside and forms a nice crust that seals in all the juices, too.

Bottom line: No complaints from my crew when I make these. #winnerdinner

How to Make Chicken Burgers

Watch this 1 minute video tutorial to see just how easy it is to make these Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs…

How Do I Freeze Chicken Burgers?

A super smart use of time is to double (or triple) the batch and freeze chicken burgers for later. If you’re already getting your kitchen, bowls, and utensils dirty, why not spend just a few more minutes putting together an extra batch or two for a future dinner?

To freeze for later, place the burgers on a sheet pan and flash freeze them for an hour or so. Once they are hard, toss them in a gallon-sized freezer bag or container and seal well. Freeze for up to 3 months.

How Should I Serve Chicken Burgers?

white plate with chicken burger on bun, sweet potato fries, and grapes

We have two suggestions for how to serve chicken burgers.

  1. Serve them a la carte with Avocado Aioli on top or on the side. Dipping each bite of my mini chicken burger in the avocado aioli is my hands-down favorite way to eat them! The sauce is super easy to whip up.
  2. Serve them on a bun, topped with your favorite cheese if you want. I would suggest Provolone or Havarti cheese over the top, but pick whatever kind you love. Kids especially love the burgers served this way. You can also top them with lettuce (or arugula), tomato slices, and that amazing Avocado Aioli I mentioned.

As for side dish ideas, we enjoy sweet potato fries or Oven Fries and some fruit for a simple weeknight meal.

More Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

Looking for more easy, kid-friendly freezer meals like this one? We have a whole round-up of 30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals here or get started with a few of these favorites…

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Italian Meatballs

Baked Penne Pasta

Easy Ham and Cheese Sliders

Make or Print This Chicken Burger Recipe

You and your family are going to love this tasty yet light chicken burger recipe! Be sure to Pin it, share it, or print it now.

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chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings (2 mini burgers per person) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs are kid-friendly, healthy and tasty! Freezer meal instructions included. This meal is a winner dinner again and again!


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chicken (sub: ground turkey)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (recommend: whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs) (*For Gluten-free option see note below.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • Optional: cheese slices (i.e. provolone, cheddar, mozzarella)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large bowl, use a fork or your hands to gently combine the ground chicken, garlic, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 16 small patties.
  2. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Coat each patty in the crumbs on both sides; set aside. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Add some of the patties (try not to overcrowd the pan) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. They are cooked through when there is no longer any pink inside or they reach 165°F internally. (Note: If the patties brown before they’re cooked through, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and continue to cook for a few minutes more.) Repeat this step with the remaining oil and patties.
  4. Serve the chicken burgers a la carte or on mini buns with a cheese slice on top, if desired.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-2. Place the patties on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet in a single layer and set in the freezer to flash freeze for about an hour. After they are frozen, transfer to a large resealable bag and store for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the patties overnight in the refrigerator. Follow Steps 3-4.


Notes

*For a Gluten-Free Option: Coat the mini chicken burgers in almond flour or gluten-free breadcrumbs. If serving on buns, use gluten-free buns.

Baked Italian Meatballs

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Look no further for a delicious baked meatball recipe. Our Baked Italian Meatballs are a 30 minute meal staple in our house! The ingredients are simple but they are still packed with flavor. They make a great freezer meal because you can easily double the batch to freeze meatballs for later!

Baked meatballs on a white plate with marinara sauce

Easiest Baked Meatballs… EVER

Everybody loves a good meatball, right? Well, at least everyone in my crew does. And, as my mom friends out there know, it’s no small feat to prepare a meal that everyone eats and enjoys. These delicious, moist, Baked Italian Meatballs may get eaten before they ever make it atop whole wheat spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce or a Meatball Sandwich.

The ingredients in our baked meatballs are simple:

You likely have all of the ingredients for these easy baked meatballs in your pantry!

Baked italian meatball

Perhaps the best part: Skip the stove top mess and bake these away in the oven for only 20 minutes. They come out perfect every time. And, like so many of our recipes, you can make these meatballs ahead of time and freeze them for a quick, healthy meal later. Check out the freezer meal instructions in the recipe.

Here is a short video of how Baked Italian Meatballs come together

How to Freeze Baked Meatballs

One of the best parts about this meatball recipe is that it is freezer friendly. Meatballs work beautifully to assemble and then freeze before baking for a meal down the road. I’d suggest rolling them up and placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet to freeze.

How to freeze baked italian meatballs

After they are frozen enough to hold together, place them in an airtight container or freezer storage bag.

The beauty of freezing meatballs is that you can now pop out as many as you need for future meals. No need to bake them all at once. These can be a great freezer meal for 1-2 people.

Ways to Use Baked Meatballs

Baked meatballs are incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas on ways to use them!

  • Serve them over whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce
  • Bake them and then assemble them as Meatball Sandwiches
  • Eat them plain! They can be a great appetizer.
  • Lighten up but don’t miss out on flavor by serving them over zoodles.
Baked italian meatball on a fork

What to serve with Baked Italian Meatballs

Here are some ideas that baked meatballs would go well with:

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Baked Italian Meatballs {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings (about 24 11/2 inch meatballs) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Everybody loves a good meatball! These delicious, moist ones may get eaten before they ever make it atop spaghetti or a sub sandwich. You’ll want to make this baked version of meatballs again and again.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef (This is where we get our favorite grass-fed ground beef.*)
  • 1 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

*affiliate link


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Using clean hands, gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Use a medium dough scooper or a spoon to scoop and then roll about 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Line up meatballs on the sheet pan, leaving room between each.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside (160 degrees internal temperature).
  5. Optional: Serve with marinara sauce over pasta or on a sub sandwich.

Freeze For Later:

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Then, complete Steps 2 and 3. At this point, flash freeze uncooked meatballs by placing on the sheet pan (or in a baking dish) in the freezer for about an hour or so. Once frozen, dump meatballs in a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and place in freezer.

Prepare From Frozen:

Thaw meatballs using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook according to instructions, beginning with Step 4.

Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Beefy Baked Ravioli: An Easy Fake-Out Lasagna

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This fake-out lasagna is a dinnertime favorite in my home. Beefy Baked Ravioli is very easy to make too! It’s super filling and makes a great beef freezer meal. My kids love it.

Beef baked ravioli

Some affiliate links included.

Since my grass-fed, organic beef was delivered a few weeks ago, I’ve been thumbing through some “oldies but goodies” beef recipes and came upon Beefy Baked Ravioli. This recipe is one that my freezer club–that’s my small group of friends who cook and swap healthy freezer meals for each other once a month–has been making for years. I don’t know a man, woman or child alive who wouldn’t like this lasagna of sorts.

Beefy Baked Ravioli in a baking dish

What Makes Beefy Baked Ravioli a Winner Dinner

There are several things I think you’ll love about this recipe, besides that it’s comfort food at its best…

1 – Using the cheese ravioli enables you to skip the ricotta cheese/egg mixture step which saves time and mess. I buy the fresh or dried cheese ravioli at Trader Joe’s because there are no additives or preservatives unlike many of the frozen varieties. The ingredients are simple, pantry ingredients that you likely already have.

Ingredients for Beefy Baked Ravioli in  while bowls

2 – You can easily transform Beefy Baked Ravioli into a cheaper, easier, and vegetarian meal by leaving out the meat and adding in some chopped spinach, thus making it similar to my Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups. You might need to rename it, though. 🙂

3 – It makes a great freezer meal!! That means it’s easy to make in bulk for your own family or to share with a friend, neighbor, or new mom who could benefit from a meal.

How to Make Beefy Baked Ravioli a Freezer Meal

Turning this recipe into a freezer meal is a cinch. Simple follow the cooking instructions right up until the point you bake it but STOP. DON’T BAKE IT! Wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to 6 months (even longer if you are able to package it correctly.) When you want to make it, use one of our safe thawing instructions to prepare it.

It may have to thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Baking time may take longer because it will be so cold, so factor in another 20-30 minutes to the cooking timeBoom, you now have a fabulous ground beef freezer meal ready to roll on a busy night.

How to Assemble Beefy Baked Ravioli

Like to see things before you do them? Here is a layout of the steps you’ll be doing to make this yummy dinner.

Step by step images for beefy baked ravioli

Here’s a shot of our Beefy Baked Ravioli after we devoured most of it for dinner…

What Storage Container to Freeze Beefy Baked Ravioli In

We recommend using a freezer-friendly, resealable glass container or dish. While it may be easier to buy the disposable plastic containers, it really makes sense to stock up on some quality, safe dishes that you can bake AND store in. After searching long and hard, here are the freezer storage containers we recommend. We both have collected a huge stash of them over the years!

Freezer containers for beefy baked ravioli

A Short Video on How to Make Beefy Baked Ravioli

Make life simpler with this easy, fake-out lasagna tonight. Your family will thank you for this one.

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Baked Beef Ravioli Recipe: An Easy Fake-Out Lasagna

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 810 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

This fake-out lasagna is a dinner time favorite in my home. Very easy to make, super filling and is freezer friendly. My kids love this meal!


Ingredients

  • 25 ounces fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
  • olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 23 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed, organic)
  • 1/2 lb pork sausage (here’s where we get ours from)
  • 2 (24-28 ounce) jars marinara sauce (or 6 cups Homemade Marinara Sauce)
  • 1 1/22 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/22 cups shredded Italian mix cheese (or more shredded mozzarella)
  • grated Parmesan cheese, optional for serving

*Note: Our original recipe called for 1 can (15 ounce) crushed Italian tomatoes, but in further tests we found it to be too saucy. We removed this ingredient.


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. If using frozen ravioli, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the ravioli according to package instructions, just until al dente. (Note: If using fresh ravioli from the refrigerator section, skip this step. No need to cook it in advance.) 
  2. While the ravioli cooks, preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13 inch pan (or two 8×8 inch pans) with cooking spray.
  3. Drain the ravioli in a colander, gently toss with a little oil to keep from sticking, and set aside.
  4. In large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute but don’t let it burn. Next, add beef and sausage to the onion mixture and turn up the heat to medium-high. Cook until browned and no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain off the grease, then stir in the sauce and remove from heat.
  5. In the baking dish(es), spread a thin layer of the meat sauce into the bottom. Arrange a layer of half the ravioli over the sauce. Sprinkle about 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and about 1 cup of the Italian cheese over the ravioli. Pour half of the remaining sauce over the cheese and spread it with the back of a spoon. Repeat layers, ending with the rest of the sauce on top. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  6. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes until hot throughout. Take foil off and bake about 15 minutes more or until bubbly at edges.
  7. Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.

Freeze For Later:

Prepare the casserole through Step 5, but do not bake. Wrap the unbaked casserole(s) tightly with plastic wrap and foil before putting in the freezer, making sure to squeeze out any excess air.

Prepare From Frozen:

Thaw in the fridge (may take up to 48 hours) or thaw in the microwave on defrost setting. Bake according to instructions, beginning with Step 6.

If cooking directly from frozen state, baking time will increase.

A bite of beefy baked ravioli

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

Check out our Top 10 Ground Beef Freezer Meals!

Ground Beef Freezer Meals

*Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your costs will be the same but Thriving Home will receive a small commission. This helps cover some of the costs for this site. We appreciate your support!

Easy No-Peek Beef Stew

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Friends, making beef stew gets NO EASIER than this recipe. My mother-in-law taught me this one when I first got married, and I’ve been serving it up to big crowds ever since. Make ahead and freeze to have on hand for busy nights or when hosting a big group.

What Ingredients are in an Easy Beef Stew?

We took some shortcuts in this recipe so you can get dinner on the table with very little effort. If you’d like to make a whole foods version, try our Instant Pot Beef Stew recipe that’s still pretty darn simple to put together.

Bowls of easy beef stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, and stew meat in it. On a wooden table.

For this version, you’ll start with some chopped onions, carrots, and potatoes. Then, throw in some beef stew meat. I use grass-fed beef (here’s a round-up of our favorite grass-fed beef recipes and where we get our meat from), as it will get nice and tender during the long baking time. The final three ingredients just require a can opener: a can of green beans, a can of organic tomato soup, and a can of organic cream of mushroom soup.

Easy beef stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, and stew meat

Now, you’ll notice this recipe does include some canned, pre-made items, which I normally avoid. But, sometimes it’s nice to take some help from the store. So, I just do my best to find organic, BPA-free options. Definitely read labels and find the canned items with the most recognizable and fewest ingredients.

How Do You Make an Easy Beef Stew?

The beauty of this stew recipe is that you simple dump everything in the casserole dish that it bakes in, stir it up, and bake. You’ll end up with a tasty meal at the end of the day and only ONE dirty dish. Nice.

Uncooked Beef Stew in a casserole dish with stew meat, onions, carrots, green beans, and cream of mushroom soup

Throw all the ingredients in the oven around lunch time (or in the slow cooker in the morning), DO NOT PEEK, and you’ve got a hearty and tasty dinner ready later in the day!

Finished easy beef stew cooked in a casserole dish

If you can chop vegetables and open cans, you can do this! This dump and go, one-dish-wonder meal really is a cinch to pull together. Watch our 1 minute tutorial here…

This recipe makes 6-8 servings easily, so it’s great for a large family or for serving a crowd. Be sure to pin this image for later, so you can make it for your family anytime.

Process shot of Easy Beef Stew recipe.

How to Make Ahead and Freeze Beef Stew

Easy beef stew in a casserole dish covered in foil and ready to be frozen.

Our easy No-Peek Stew can easily be made ahead of time and frozen for later. We’ve included freezer meal instructions for preparing it uncooked or fully cooked in the recipe below. Pro Tip: If you’re making one No-Peek Stew for tonight, go ahead and double the recipe and freeze one for later.

Bowls of easy beef stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, and stew meat in it. On a wooden table.

When it comes to packaging and storing any Beef Stew as a freezer meal, selecting the right container can make all the difference. Packaging and storing it the right way in the freezer means your make-ahead meal will taste fresh on the other end of its stay in the freezer! Yes, it’s true.

Read our article about the 5 Best Ways to Package and Store Freezer Meals here and stock up on some great freezer storage containers.

I think you’re going to love my mother-in-law’s No-Peek Stew recipe. It’s nearly impossible to mess up and makes your whole home smell amazing! Whether you’re serving a group or want dinner plus leftovers, this delicious dump-and-go meal is a winner dinner.

A bowl of easy beef stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, and stew meat in it. On a wooden table.
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Finished easy beef stew cooked in a casserole dish

No-Peek Stew Recipe

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Making beef stew doesn’t get easier than this recipe! Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning or in oven around lunch time, DO NOT PEEK, and you’ll end up with a hearty and tasty dinner for a crowd.


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of beef stew meat (or chuck roast, trimmed and cut-up in about 1-inch chunks)
  • 23 baking potatoes, peeled and cut up into about 1-inch chunks
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut up into about 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut up into about 1-inch chunks
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, or more to your preference
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of green beans, liquid and all
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of tomato soup (preferably organic)
  • 1 (15 ounces) can of cream of mushroom soup (preferably organic)

Instructions

Make It Now:

Oven Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 275° F.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Add stew meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions to the casserole dish. Season with the pepper and gently stir together.
  3. Dump the can of green beans, liquid and all, over the top of meat and vegetables. Then, pour the tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup over the top. Gently combine with a spoon if you want, but not necessary. Tightly cover with foil.
  4. Place casserole dish on a cookie sheet with sides, in case of overflow. Bake for 5 hours. Don’t peek!

Slow Cooker Method: Stir together all the ingredients in a 6 quart slow cooker. Place the lid on and set to LOW for 8-10 hours. (Do not peek!)

Freeze For Later:

Option 1 (Uncooked): Follow Steps 2-3, except cover tightly with a few layers of plastic wrap and foil, squeezing out any excess air. Freeze.

Option 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook and cool the stew (do not leave outside of refrigerator or freezer more than 2 hours!). Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal and/or wrap it well before placing in the freezer.

Prepare From Frozen:

Option 1 (Uncooked): Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Remove the plastic wrap and cover tightly with one layer of foil. Bake as directed in Step 4 (or use the slow cooker method).

Option 2 (Fully Cooked): To reheat, thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator (preferred method) or in the microwave using the defrost setting. Then, warm over low heat on the stove or in the slow cooker, gently stirring occasionally until warmed through.

Try our Instant Pot Beef Stew for another quick meal the whole family will love.

bowl of stew in white bowl with napkin

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

One of our easiest freezer meals: Chicken Parmesan Sliders. Just put a few ingredients into the crockpot and you’ll have one of your favorite meals for a busy night. Great meal idea for large groups too!

Slow cooker chicken parmesan sliders on a cutting board

“I need more recipes like this in my life,” I told my husband, as he and the kids scarfed down slider after slider. When I don’t have to touch raw meat (can I get an amen?), I can just dump a few ingredients in a slow cooker, and a healthy and kid-friendly meal magically appears at dinner time…I’M IN!

Why are Chicken Parmesan Sliders SO Easy?

Look no further for a slow cooker, chicken dump-and-go meal idea. The simplicity of getting dinner done will have you doing victory laps around your house. There isn’t any prep before placing the very few ingredients in the slow cooker either.

Here’s all you really need from the store:

  • chicken breasts, fresh or frozen
  • a jar of your favorite marinara (or make your own)
  • some mini whole wheat buns or rolls (or make your own)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella or Provolone cheese slices

Just dump in your chicken, marinara sauce and a few choice seasonings and press a button. Gotta love that!

Ingredients for slow cooker chicken parmesan sliders

How Long do I Cook Chicken Parmesan Sliders in the Slow Cooker?

After you dump all of your ingredients into the slow cooker, how long do you have to wait until dinner? You might be surprised at the answer. In fact, we wrote an entire post about how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker because so many people are doing it wrong! After loads of recipe testing, we have found that chicken breast is done after 3-4 hours in the slow cooker. This will vary on the type of slow cooker but it’s done quicker than you think!

Chicken parmesan sliders in slow cooker

Can I Make Chicken Parmesan Sliders in the Instant Pot?

Let’s say you aren’t home around the time these Chicken Parmesan Sliders need to go into the slow cooker. You can have Chicken Parmesan Sliders done in minutes using your Instant Pot! In fact, we have done the work and converted the recipe for you. Hop over to our Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan Sliders recipe here.

Slow cooker parmesan sliders on a white plate

How do I make Chicken Parmesan Sliders a Freezer Meal?

As with so many of our recipes, Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders freeze well. (Find all our Freezer Meal recipes here.) You have some options on how to make this a freezer meal too.

Option One: Prepare and freeze it before cooking

To Freeze:

Place raw chicken and marinara (and any optional seasonings) into a freezer-safe container or zip top bag and freeze. You can also wrap up the cheese slices and rolls tightly and freeze. Keep all ingredients in a grocery sack in the freezer, so the meal components are together.

To Prepare:

When ready to cook, thaw everything in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Place chicken & marinara into the slow cooker and follow steps 2-3.

Option Two: Freeze after cooking

To Freeze:

Fully cook and cool the chicken. Place in a freezer-safe container or zip top bag. You can also wrap up the cheese slices and rolls tightly and freeze. Keep all ingredients in a grocery sack in the freezer, so the meal components are together.


To Prepare:

When ready to cook, thaw everything in the fridge for 24-48 hours. If chicken is still partially frozen, use the defrost setting on the microwave. Warm chicken mixture over medium-low on the stove stirring occasionally, in a slow cooker on low setting, or in the microwave. Serve according to the instructions in Step 3 above.

Slow cooker parmesan sliders on a wooden cutting board

Video Tutorial for Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

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