There’s nothing worse than ceremoniously peeling back the foil from the other night’s leftovers, ready to dive into another delicious dinner, and said dinner doesn't look quite so delicious in the harsh light of a new day. It’s off. Furry green mould, a musty, earthy smell – it’s an accidental immersive experience of everything you don’t want in your mouth. A lot of hard work went into making that meal, and oh, how it’s made a meal of you.
Cooking regularly is often seen as time consuming, a lot of effort and even more washing up, but when you have a selection of freeze-ahead meals up your sleeve, you can make it a lot easier to feed the whole hungry gang delicious, healthy meals all the time – without worrying which furry monster is going to greet you from under the lid next. Easy freezer meals can be pulled out quickly and provide plenty of nutrition. So instead of reaching for the takeaway menu, add some of these dishes to the weekly family meal plan. Packed with goodness, easy to reheat, and easy to store, try one of these 10 nutritious freezer meal ideas.
Meaty homemade freezer meals
Once prepped, all you have to do with these meat dishes is make sure they’re thoroughly reheated. Give these three easy freezer meals a try:
Cover your meals with a handy piece of Plenty kitchen paper before reheating in the microwave, so that when the food does inevitably go pop!, it’s not all over the inside of your appliance.
- Lasagne. An absolute classic not only to slop down your chin and your t-shirt, but make ahead and enjoy later too. Cook your tomato and meat base and prepare your white sauce topping before alternating layers of dried pasta, meat, and white sauce and sprinkling a hearty helping of cheese on top. Pop it in the oven and cook on full whack before letting it all cool and popping it in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, heat it up in the oven for around 20 to 30 minutes. You can choose low-fat yoghurt rather than cream for your white sauce and sprinkle the cheese sparingly if you want to make it a bit lighter.
- Meatballs. Tuck a sheet of Plenty kitchen paper into your collar, it’s another messy one! You can save even more time by pre-prepping your meatball dish alongside your freezer lasagne. Simply cook the meatballs on the side and double the lasagne sauce so there’s enough to cover the meatballs. Add a little water or passata when you’re ready to defrost it and boil some spaghetti.
- Chicken curry. Indian, Chinese or Thai, the key with this one is to make a really flavoursome sauce. Coconut milk makes a dairy-free, creamy base; and yoghurt also pairs well with curry spices. Cook a big batch, separate portions for the freezer, and reheat when needed – the sauce will help stop the chicken from drying out.
Safety warning: When re-heating meat from frozen, it’s crucial that you heat it until it’s piping hot to avoid the risk of food poisoning. After removing any frozen meat from the freezer, always consume within 24 hours.
Vegetarian freezer meals
Veggies go off very quickly when they’re left lurking in the back of the fridge or squashed at the bottom of the punnet, so having some good freezer meals packed with vegetables makes it easier to get your 5-a-day, and preserve produce that could go to waste. Give these tasty vegetarian freezer meals a whirl:
- Soup. This couldn’t be easier or more nutritious. Chunky or smooth. Whatever veg you like. Whizz it all up in a blender, ensuring the lid is firmly on to avoid peppering the ceiling and walls with squishy, sludgey tomatoh-nos. Portion up, pull out of the freezer, and add a little stock or water to cook from frozen. Done!
- Vegetarian chilli. Instead of beef, a chilli packed with beans and lentils is veggie-friendly and very satisfying. Defrost, bring to the boil and then let it simmer on the stove while you prepare some rice or tortillas on the side.
- Spinach ricotta cannelloni. Just like the lasagne, you can fill out dry cannelloni tubes with tasty ricotta, spinach and basil filling. Top it off with a tomato sauce and cook for 20-30 minutes straight from frozen. It’s also easy to choose lighter options for the ricotta if you like, such as low-fat ricotta or yoghurt!
Whether reheating from frozen or defrosting before cooking, there’s often a little bit (or a lot) of mess when dealing with freeze-ahead meals. Plenty kitchen paper is super absorbent, making it ideal for mopping up any spills and excess moisture.
Homemade freezer meals for pescatarians
There’s one thing our nostrils never want to witness – and that’s the potent, salty stench of a gone-off slimy fish. And like vegetables, fish makes for good freezer meals, so give these classic dishes a try:
- Fish pie. Undoubtedly one of the best freezer meals, you’ll first need to choose your fish. Cook the components separately, let them cool and then put together in an oven-ready dish. Freeze, and then cook the pie in the oven until piping hot when you want it. Make sure you wear oven gloves when you’re taking the hot dish out of the oven – this tasty fish pie is intended to go in your belly, not all over the floor.
- Fishcakes. This is another two-in-one option like the lasagne/meatball idea. Simply cook extra fish and mash when making your fish pie, add your herbs and seasoning, and make into fish patties. They hold together really well and you can bake them with ease when you’re ready to eat. They also make extremely satisfying splot sounds when you’re squidging them into shape.
Freezer meal ideas for dessert
The freezer is a great place for delicious and nutritious desserts as well. Try one of these two ideas:
- Frozen yoghurt. Equally dribbly when it melts and slithers down your arm in a sticky stream of goo before dropping from elbow to lap, legs and beyond… frozen yoghurt is a great healthy alternative for ice cream lovers. Place some frozen fruit in a blender with some yoghurt and blitz before portioning and freezing.
- Smoothie lollies. This healthy alternative to sugary lollies is just like a regular smoothie, but colder, and firmer! Whizz up some fruit with juice or water, pop into lolly moulds (or ice cube trays) and freeze.
There you have it – 10 of the best freezer meals to try. They’re all easy to prepare, easy to store, and easy to make in batches, so you can say goodbye to that furry food monster!