chicken pasta bake
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Freezer-Friendly Meals That Will Always Taste Fresh

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chicken pasta bake
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Some Pretty Chill Meals

Some days you just want to open the freezer and find a delicious homemade dish ready to heat and eat. If you plan ahead, that can happen more often than not. Capitalize on a bit of downtime to create a range of dishes, from comforting casseroles and hearty stews to stellar sides and luscious desserts. All are options that feature freezer-friendly preparations and ingredients, dishes that you make now and freeze for the future. When the time is right — or prep time tight — you'll be so glad you planned ahead. And, remember, consider freezing some foods in individual portions for solo grab-and-go eating.

Related: 20 Comfort Food Recipes That Freeze Well

bacon wrapped jalapenos
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Stuffed Jalapeños

Start any party (even if it's just your own family) off on the right foot with a tray of this zippy appetizer that's also an ideal anytime snack. These work best if you freeze them mid-production, which allows you to actually give them that "first bake," and the delicious crisp, when ready to eat. (Some like it hot. If you do, check out these 15 Hot and Spicy Recipes.)

Recipe: Happy Money Saver

mini meat pies
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Freezer Pizza Bites

If you're going to pop some store-bought pizza bites into the oven, why not skip the processed product and opt for ones you've made yourself? That way you can customize the fillings (yes, kids will eat a veggie version), use your favorite sauce, and even make these as a family project. Pass the pepperoni.

Recipe: Super Healthy Kids

Related: 19 Savory Pies From Around The World

Spinach Artichoke Dip
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Freezable Spinach Artichoke Dip

The classic favorite whips up quickly in a food processor and makes enough for a hearty helping today and one for tomorrow. Warm it up from the freezer, in the microwave or oven, for a festive treat any night, as the creamy ingredients blend well and heat up with ease.

Recipe: BakeSpace

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Mini Quiches
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Easy Freezer-Prep Mini Quiches

A tray of mini quiches can be a bit of a showstopper on the table — or simply a quick meal with a side salad. Pre-made pie crust, flexible ingredients (tomato and goat cheese or broccoli cheddar, for example) and reheating ease (a minute or so in the microwave) make these a win-win-win. 

Recipe: Tasty

Sausage Balls
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Bisquick Sausage Balls

These flavorful little orbs can be made ahead and easily baked, giving you time to prepare a fresh dipping sauce to create a combo that will seem like you spent plenty of time at the oven. And, even when frozen, the ground pork sausage retains its moist flavor particularly well. (Here are some Old-School Appetizers That We Still Secretly Love.)

Recipe: The Spruce Eats

Spinach Balls
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Vegan Spinach Balls

This make-ahead appetizer — create a batch and take out whenever you need — are dairy-free and can be made gluten-free to boot. The balls feature tofu, a freezer-friendly ingredient that adds a layer of creaminess.

Recipe: The Hidden Veggies

Dress Up Tomato Soup
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Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

This soup recipe shines with the addition of garden-fresh tomatoes, though it can be made all year round. Whirring the tomatoes in the blender brings out a smooth consistency, which freezes especially well.

Recipe: Happy Money Saver

Related: 30 Easy Soup Recipes That Last for Days

Butternut Squash Soup
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Butternut Squash Soup

A warm bowl of soup, especially a creamy one, is an ideal complement to a winter's night. This nourishing (and vegetarian) recipe gets its richness from the creamy squash, which holds its creaminess in the freezer and is designed to reheat with ease. Add some crusty bread, and there's your meal. (Make good use of squash and other fall vegetables with these Recipes That Showcase Seasonal Fruits and Veggies.)

Recipe: Love & Lemons

Chicken Meatball Soup
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Vietnamese Chicken Meatball Soup with Bok Choy

Taste of Home's extensive list of soups that freeze well include this dish that spices up an otherwise dull weeknight. Tip: The hearty soup also features a beaten egg, so, when freezing, wait to add that until you're ready to serve for the freshest flavor.

Recipe: Taste of Home

Related: 30 Hearty Fall Soups Perfect for a Chilly Day

Winter Minestrone
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Make-Ahead Freezer Minestrone

Beef broth, carrots, zucchini, spinach — and a touch of saffron for flair — form the heart of this slow-cooker meal that can easily be frozen. Pasta, a classic minestrone ingredient, is omitted as "fully cooked pasta gets mushy when frozen," but feel free to add it when reheating for the traditional Italian experience.

Recipe: Kroger

Red Lentil Soup
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Smoky Red Lentil Soup with Cilantro Swirl

Lentils are a go-to item when it comes to freezing. These little protein- and fiber-rich legumes retain their shape and flavor, gaining a layer of richness over time. This slow-cooker meal offers a deep, smoky flavor without dairy or meat. When freezing, you'll reheat and then top with a mix of oil and cilantro and dot the bowl with pumpkin seeds for that just-made finishing touch.

Recipe: Lentils.org

Lasagna
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Make Once, Eat Twice Lasagna

This double-up recipe gives you enough for two whole meals. You'll cook the one but freeze the second one unbaked, so keep in mind this oh-how-it-always-comes-together meaty, cheesy entrée will need about an hour to get to the table once thawed. It will be worth it. (Go big when cooking ahead with these 55 Big-Batch Meals That Will Last for a Week.)

Recipe: Taste of Home

Chili
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Spicy Freezer Chili

Ground beef is a freezer stalwart; it fares well in the chill, no doubt about it. This recipe takes advantage of that fact, so home cooks are encouraged to make a batch or two to always have on hand. Before serving, add a toss of shredded cheese and sliced scallions to give an "added punch of flavor." (For a little variety, check out these 13 Regional Chili Recipes, too.)

Recipe: The Spruce Eats

Chicken Stew
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Chicken Stew

Tender chicken joins fresh vegetables, a seasoned broth and optional cream to combine for a comforting combination. For freezing, it's recommended that you opt for the thickening agent flour instead of cornstarch to prevent a lumpy surprise. (Take advantage of chicken's budget-friendly price with these 50 Cheap and Easy Chicken Recipes.)

Recipe: Spend with Pennies

Pot Roast
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Crockpot Pot Roast

This recipe featuring well-seasoned chuck roast, potatoes and carrots is billed as "tender, flavorful and meal-in-one perfection." Good, right? It can also be frozen to warm the belly on a hectic evening, though the carrots and potatoes don't always stay firm. You might consider omitting all together then adding a side or salad.

Recipe: Carlsbad Cravings

Gumbo
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'Big Easy' Gumbo

A flavorful roux, chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp add up to a classic taste of New Orleans in a dish that freezes well enough to be picked as a Southern Living list of "Easy Freezer Recipes That Reheat Beautifully." Black-eyed peas, which hold up to the cold storage, add even more substance.

Recipe: Southern Living

Roy Rogers Stuffing
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Breakfast Casserole

This featured "make-ahead meal" allows you to elevate breakfast for a dinner showcase — or simply serve for its intended breakfast or brunch. Sausage, vegetables and eggs make this a comfort-food classic, one that can easily be frozen (unbaked) for up to two months thanks to eggs' propensity to stay flavorful during freezing. (Need more inspiration? Here are 25 Indulgent Brunch Recipes for a Weekend Feast at Home.)

Recipe: Fresh April Flours

Tuna Casserole
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Easy Tuna Casserole Freezer Meal

This economical, make-ahead option assures the home chef that "tuna casserole freezes beautifully" — and as proof, offers three different approaches so you can pick what method works best for you. Each yields the end result of a classic tray of retro-inspired comfort food.

Recipe: FreezerMeals 101

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
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Plan Ahead Freezer Friendly Macaroni and Cheese

You had us at the array of cheeses that go into this dish, not to mention the inclusion of half and half, buttermilk and sour cream. The use of disposable tin pans sealed the deal. This recipe features a prep, freeze and bake later approach that looks so rich and gooey we are already counting on it becoming a family favorite.

Recipe: Savory Spicerack

black bean burritos
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Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Black Beans and Rice

Slip a store-bought frozen burrito out of its plastic wrap no more – this recipe offers a way to make your own "fast food," a prep-ahead method that you freeze then microwave or crisp in a skillet. We're thinking breakfast, lunch, dinner…

Recipe: The Kitchn

chicken pasta bake
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Chicken Tuscan Pasta Bake

Dining without the guilt is the focus of this dish that "freezes well" and is "the epitome of comfort without being overly rich or fattening." That's thanks to whole-wheat pasta, chicken breast, and kale all tied together into a warming entrée.

Recipe: Rachel Cooks


Bolognese
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Bolognese Sauce

This freezer-friendly "bulk recipe" is ideal for advance prep, especially since Bolognese sauce is known to get richer in flavor in the freezer (you know how that goes with some leftovers). Freeze in portions then defrost and serve over the pasta of your choice.

Recipe: Food.com

Butterless Mashed Potatoes
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Mashed Potatoes

Yukon Gold potatoes are the spud of choice for this creamy "Simple Side" that's quickly thawed and hits the table after a pop in the microwave. (Ever versatile, here are 27 Ways to Enjoy Spuds.)

Recipe: Once A Month Meals

Root Vegetable Casserole
Delicious on a Dime

Root Vegetable Casserole

Parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots … you decide the vegetables you want to use. A touch of cream and cheese add depth to this hearty dish that retains its richness in the freezer. Add breadcrumb topping when reheating.

Recipe: Delicious on a Dime

Stuffed Tomatoes
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Vegetarian-Friendly Stuffed Tomatoes

This Instagram-ideal recipe creates a side dish that's "sweet, creamy, crunchy, and imbued with faint whispers of garlic and fresh basil." Its boldness holds up in the freezer, with its rich and cheesy stuffing perfect to stand up to a quick re-heat.

Recipe: Eat This, Not That!

Garlic Green Bean
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Garlic Green Bean Recipe

So you're putting a steak on the grill or tossing a turkey burger into the skillet? The main dish may be simple, but you want some well-flavored veggies on the side. Opt for this simple freeze-ahead side to add a jolt of flavor; the beans' lack of a high moisture content keeps them tasting quite fresh.

Recipe: FavoriteFreezerFoods.com

blueberry muffins
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Freezer-Friendly Apple Vanilla and Blueberry Mini Muffins

A snack, dessert, or part of the breakfast table, these wholesome little snacks feature fresh fruit, are naturally sweetened and yes, freeze quite well with reheating almost a given.

Recipe: Whole Food Bellies

chocolate mousse cake
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Creamy Mocha Frozen Dessert

This is a make-ahead dessert as impressive in appearance as it is in taste. You'll be able to make it ahead and serve it the next day … or a little further down the line. The cream cheese that binds it together is known to freeze well. In fact, it all combines for a smooth and refreshing treat.

Recipe: Taste of Home

ice cream sandwich cookies
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The Best Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

You'll be impressing those gathered at the table when you pull out a homemade ice cream sandwich cookie. A trick in the cookie prep (think refrigerating the dough) creates a cookie that stands up to its time in the freezer … which likely won't be long. Once you break these out, requests for seconds will likely follow.

Recipe: Broma Bakery

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas
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Chocolate-Covered Banana Bites

Um, these feature bananas, so they must be healthy, right? Frozen bananas dipped in chocolate are a classic carnival or boardwalk treat. This make-at-home version features little nibbles of banana that also please chocolate lovers of any age. You dip them and then watch them disappear.

Recipe: Pillsbury