These easy and healthy freezer meals are the perfect make ahead dinners for the busy holiday season. Make a few now and your December-self will be so happy!
Do you make freezer meals in your house?
I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. While some stock their freezer with a month's worth of meals and others never stock any, I like to keep a well-stocked freezer but still cook many meals from fresh.
I typically don't have dedicated meal prep time for freezer meals. I find I can stock my freezer pretty organically by doubling a soup recipe and freezing leftovers for another week, etc.
BUT that comes with a big exception. If I know that I'm about to go into a particularly busy season, I do like to put in a little extra time in the kitchen and make sure I have a few extra healthy freezer meals ready.
I did this before we brought baby Ivan home and I think the holiday season is another perfect example of when freezer meals deserve an extra spot at the table.
Not only is the holiday season super busy for most, it is also full of all-the-treats which can leave you feeling a bit lethargic if not balanced out by some nourishing meals. I love knowing that I have a freezer stocked with super healthy meals and all I have to do is defrost and heat (frequently in the slow cooker).
Here's a roundup of some of my favorite recipes that work well as freezer meals – I hope you love them!
Healthy Freezer Meal Roundup!
Lasagna is one of my absolute favorite dishes to serve to guests. It's homey, delicious and can be completely prepped ahead! If you have family coming to stay this season, take a bit of time and pop one of these in the freezer for later.
I recommend assembling, but not baking, your lasagna before freezing. (Personally, I like making two lasagnas and freezing one for later – it takes hardly any more time to make two!)
Assemble the lasagna, let it cool and then cover tightly and freeze. To reheat, thaw in the fridge for 24 hours and bake for 60 minutes covered with foil followed by 10 minutes uncovered. Just as good as freshly made!
This baked polenta casserole has a similar flavor profile to lasagna but with a little twist. It uses polenta instead of noodles.
Cheese is totally optional in this one, so feel free to make it dairy-free.
Similar to lasagna, I like to assemble this one, but not bake, before freezing. This ensures it will taste nice and fresh when you serve it!
These meatballs are not only super healthy, they're also super versatile. They call for pork, but use whatever type of ground meat you prefer.
You actually have two choices when making meatballs for a freezer meal – freezing raw or cooking and then freezing.
To freeze raw meatballs, I recommend flash freezing to avoid the meatballs getting stuck together or getting freezer burn. Simply place frozen meatballs on a well greased baking sheet and place in the freezer for about an hour.
Once meatballs are hard, place them in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container, label with the date and place in the freezer. Thaw and cook as directed when you're ready to serve!
To freeze cooked meatballs, let them cool completely and then transfer to a labeled freezer bag or container. This is the way to go if you'd like to be able to just pop a couple out for a kid's lunch or for one dinner serving!
I have a bit of a soft spot for this recipe because it was one of Ivan's favorites when he was a baby.
Apart from my personal feelings though, this chicken is the perfect kid-friendly make ahead dinner. In general, slow cooker chicken tends to freeze really well.
Just like with the meatballs, you can freeze raw or cooked.
To freeze raw, rub spices on the chicken and add, along with the diced onion, to a freezer bag or container. Thaw and cook in the slow cooker when you're ready to serve.
OR simply cook the dish completely and store shredded chicken in a freezer container!
For more of a Tex-Mex inspired make ahead dinner, try my slow cooker chicken verde! This is delicious in tacos, rice / cauli-rice bowls, or over a salad.
You can keep it simple with just the chicken and rice, but don't be afraid to pile on the toppings! Use whatever you have on hand – avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, or even some black beans would all be delicious!
Simply follow the same instructions as Moroccan Chicken to turn this one into a healthy freezer meal!
This recipe is actually a great one to prep ahead for company. If you have family coming to stay with you this holiday season, these carnitas would be such a welcome home cooked meal when they arrive. Prep them ahead for the freezer and you can spend the evening catching up with loved ones instead of cooking in the kitchen.
These are also great for company because you can set out a build-your-own situation where everyone can create their own bowl (or taco!) with whatever toppings they like.
This is perfect when you have a variety of diets represented, or you're not sure what everyone likes.
As with the chicken, rub the spices on the pork and freeze raw, thaw and cook in the slow cooker OR fully cook the carnitas and freeze that way.
Mexican pork stew is such a hearty meal, just the thing you want to come home to on a cold day.
This recipe was designed as a freezer meal too, so it works perfectly as a make ahead dinner. It's another slow cooker one, which means your whole house will smell amazing when you walk in the door!
Pro tip – If you have a picky child, try serving stews like this deconstructed, with the pork, sweet potatoes, etc. separate. This only takes a minute and can seem less daunting to a child who's still working on trying new foods.
Looking for more make ahead dinner recipes?
Make sure to check out my YouTube video on freezer meals as well! It includes a recipe for Thai Chicken Stew, as well as a download with 5 great healthy freezer meals.