5 Easy Freezer Meals That Are Great For Making Ahead Of Time

Saving money on your meals whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle is made easier with freezer meals that you can simply heat up whenever you'd like. Freezer meals are also perfect options for those who are time-constrained and don't have sufficient time to cook on a daily basis. All you have to do is to make bulk quantities of your favourite freezer meals over the weekends and you'll be good for the rest of the week. Freezer meals are also great for those days where you're too lazy to spend time deciding on what to cook or eat. 

Here are 5 easy freezer meals that are perfect for making ahead of time! 

1. Bolognese 

Bolognese pasta served on floral plate

Recipe adapted from: Jamie Oliver 

Things you'll need: 

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. 
  2. Using a Chef's knife and cutting board, peel and finely chop the garlic and onions. Pick and finely chop the rosemary, then finely slice the bacon.
  3. Heat a splash of oil in a casserole pan on a medium heat, add the bacon, rosemary, garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the minced beef, breaking it apart with the back of a spoon, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until starting to brown, then pour in the wine. Leave to bubble and cook away.
  5. Meanwhile, drain and tip the sun-dried tomatoes into a food processor (or blender), blitz to a paste, then add to the pan with the tomatoes. Stir well, break the plum tomatoes apart a little.
  6. Cover with a lid then place in the oven for 1 hour, removing the lid and giving it a stir after 30 minutes – if it looks a little dry at this stage, add a splash of water to help it along.
  7. Once your sauce is ready to go, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool completely.
  8. Portion your sauce accordingly, based on how many portions you normally use as a time and simply store them in freezer-safe bags (TIP: Flatten your bags into neat, stackable 'pillow' shapes to optimise space in your freezer).
  9. To reheat, either defrost overnight in the fridge or cook from frozen, making sure it’s piping hot before you serve along with your pasta of choice. 

2. Beef stew 

Beef stew

Recipe adapted from: Jamie Oliver 

What you'll need: 

Method: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC. 
  2. Peel and roughly chop the onion and, peel and halve the carrots. Deseed and roughly dice the squash. Pick the sage leaves.
  3. Heat a little oil and the butter in a casserole pan on a medium heat, add the onion and sage leaves, then fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toss the meat in a little seasoned flour, then add it to the pan with all the vegetables, the tomato purée, wine and stock, then gently stir together. Season generously with black pepper and just a little sea salt.
  5. Bring to the boil, place a lid on top, then place in the oven until the meat is tender – sometimes this takes 3 hours, sometimes 4 – it depends on what cut of meat you’re using and how fresh it is. The only way to test is to mash up a piece of meat and if it falls apart easily it’s ready.
  6. Once cooked, take the pot out of the oven and let it cool completely. 
  7. Beef stew can be stored in any food container or freezer bag you like. Simply portion your sauce accordingly, based on how many portions you normally use as a time and store them in your food containers or freezer bags (TIP: Flatten your bags into neat, stackable 'pillow' shapes to optimise space in your freezer).
  8. To reheat, simply reheat it gently in the oven or microwave, or on your hob until it’s piping hot.

3. Minestrone soup 

Bowl of minestrone soup

Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

What you'll need: 

  • Slow cooker 
  • Peeler 
  • Chef's knife 
  • Cutting board 
  • Wooden Spoon 
  • Measuring cups 
  • Measuring spoons
  • Food container or freezer bag 
  • 950ml vegetable or chicken stock 
  • 3 cups of tomato juice 
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) cut green beans, drained
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked ditalini or other small pasta

Method: 

  1. Combine the first 13 ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in beans, zucchini and pasta. Cook, covered, on high about 30 minutes longer, until pasta is tender. Discard bay leaves.
  4. Let soup cool completely before portioning it out and storing into individual food containers or freezer bags.
  5. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally; add water if necessary.

4. Meatballs

Meatballs baked in oven on sheet pan

Recipe adapted from: Pinch of Yum 

What you'll need: 

Method: 

  1. In a big bowl, simply mix all the ingredients together. 
  2. Once they're thoroughly mixed, portion out your mixture into approximately 30 meatballs. 
  3. If you'd like, you could freeze the raw meatballs. Simply store them in food containers or freezer bags before placing in the freezer. From frozen, bake at 205°C degrees for 25-30 minutes OR  Bake at 205°C for approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing them in food containers or freezer bags and placing in the freezer.

5. Cheesy Vegetarian Baked Rice Casserole 

Cheesy vegetarian baked rice casserole out of the oven

Recipe adapted from: Kalyn's Kitchen 

What you'll need: 

Method: 

  1. Cook rice in rice cooker. 
  2. Spread hot rice out on a cookie sheet to cool while you prep other ingredients.  As soon as rice is cool, transfer it to a large bowl (big enough to hold all the ingredients.)
  3. While rice cooks, put the stock into a small saucepan and simmer to reduce the amount to 1 cup.  (This concentrates the flavor, don’t skip this step.)  Let stock cool.
  4. Chop mushrooms into pieces about 1/2 inch big, and chop onion into small pieces.
  5. Cut up the broccoli, chopping stems and cutting flowerets into small bite-sized pieces so you have 4 cups chopped broccoli.
  6. Preheat oven to 190C.
  7. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until they’re lightly browned and all liquid is evaporated, about 5-6 minutes. Put mushrooms in the bowl with the cooled rice.
  8. Heat the other 2 tsp. olive oil, add onions, and cook over medium-high heat until the onions are starting to brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add Italian herb blend and cook 1 minute more. Add the seasoned onions to the bowl with the rice.
  9. Saute the broccoli for 2-3 minutes in the pan before adding to the rice.
  10. Gently combine the rice, mushrooms, onions, and broccoli in the bowl.
  11. Whisk together the sour cream and cooled stock; then stir in 1 cup grated sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup Four Cheese Mexican Blend. Gently stir the sauce and cheese mixture into the rice mixture and combine until all the ingredients are coated with sauce.
  12. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray and spread the casserole mixture into the dish, patting it down  so it’s even.  Sprinkle with the other 1/2 cup Four Cheese Mexican Blend and the 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella.
  13. Bake casserole uncovered until it’s bubbling and the top is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Let it cool completely before portioning out and storing into your food containers or freezer bags.
  14. To reheat, first let this defrost in the refrigerator before placing it, covered, in a baking dish in the oven or toaster oven (a microwave works too).

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