14 Make-Ahead Dinners to Freeze Now & Eat All Winter Long

Stock up your freezer with these homemade meals.

January 22, 2019

I remember when my parents decided to buy a stand-alone freezer. They rolled the enormous ice box into our garage, and my sister and I promptly began listing all the ice cream flavors we’d like to stuff inside. My parents had other ideas.

The new freezer was to be a savory-food-only zone—a place to stash my mom’s big batches of crawfish étouffée and gumbo, my dad’s steaks and stews. No more cramming containers into our fridge’s little drawer. It marked a new era, an Ice Age of freezer-friendly meals to pull out and thaw on busy weeknights.

Now, I don’t have space for an extra freezer in my tiny New York apartment (heck, I’m thankful my kitchen is big enough for a dishwasher), but that hasn’t stopped me from following in my parents’ footsteps. I like to make soups and sauces and trays of baked pastas during free weekends for effortless meals in the weeks to come. Below, I’ve gathered 14 recipes that freeze super well and make weeknight dinners a cinch. Check them out and stock up.

Homemade Freezer-Friendly Meals

This warming beef stew tastes even better as the flavors meld. Bonus, you can easily make it in a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or multi-function cooker.

This recipe is easy enough to make on a weeknight, but make a few batches at once and you won't need to.

This comforting, creamy red bean recipe gets an added zip from pickle juice and holds up in the freezer for up to 4 months.

The tastiest, most satisfying way to use up that stalk of celery languishing in your crisper drawer.

A burbling, tomatoey stew from Food Writer & Recipe Developer Ella Quittner’s family recipe box.

Bake this hearty sausage pasta straight from the freezer. Warm it up at 350°F (covered in foil) for 30 minutes or so, then turn up the heat, uncover it, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top.

This warm and hearty lentil soup is perfect for any chilly winter night. Make an extra big batch because it probably won't last long.

Like a pizza pocket but better, this meaty, cheesy stromboli is great for dinner and as an app for hungry guests.

Nothing beats crispy, homemade chicken fingers. After breading the chicken (but before baking), place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and into the freezer. Freeze until frozen, then place into a freezer bag. When ready to cook, arrange on a baking rack set on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and bake at 425°F for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

These hand pies hail from New Zealand and freeze beautifully both baked or unbaked.

According to resident Genius Kristen Miglore, “dumplings have a nasty reputation of being time-consuming, but Tashie’s simplified version of her dad’s recipe is quick to put together and incredibly flavorful—from the well-seasoned filling to the kicky but balanced dipping sauce.” What are you waiting for?

A classic freezer-friendly dish gets a feisty spicy Sriracha kick. Serve with your favorite veggies on the side and you're good to go.

For warm little pockets of love meat anytime, simply freeze extra unbaked empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet—they go straight from the freezer to the oven.

Manicotti are the weekend project you didn’t know you were looking for. Freeze them unbaked, then thaw in refrigerator the night before you want to eat.

What are your favorite freezer-friendly foods? Share 'em all in the comments!
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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Audrey January 22, 2019
What’s the best way to freeze meatloaf? After it’s cooked, and then just defrost overnight? Thanks!
Syl January 31, 2019
I find one inch slices of turkey meatloaf, frozen in Saran Wrap handy for sandwiches or entree or I cut in one inch squares and twist each so I can cut several for spaghetti and meatballs and still leave the rest in the freezer... the (square) meatballs quickly defrost when I heat the tomato sauce !