Similar to my post on how to eat healthy on a budget, one of the most requested posts OF. ALL. TIME. here on IGE is one that’s all about freezer cooking! So many of you are parents to young and busy children, are busy professionals, cooking for one of two, and/or like to stay ahead of the game, which means freezer cooking is perfect for you.
First let’s talk about foods that freeze well – I’m looking at you, non-dairy-based soups, stews, and chilis, pasta and meat sauces, all kinds of raw and cooked meat and meat-based dishes, some casseroles, baked goods, and bites and snacks – whew! I’ve got sections for all these foods below with links to recipes that are freezer-friendly, as well as instructions on how to freeze, thaw, then serve them. When I’m making a freezer-friendly recipe, I like to buy double or triple the ingredients so I can make double or triple the recipe to freeze.
Let’s also chat real quick about the best materials for freezing foods and recipes, freezer cooking tips, tips to avoid freezer burn (the worst!) foods that freeze well and, equally as important, foods that don’t freeze well.
Materials needed for freezer cooking:
You can get away with freezing a ton of foods and recipes in Ziplock freezer bags, though some won’t fit inside so you’ll want to first wrap those in plastic wrap and then foil. Instead of tying up glass bakeware, assemble casseroles inside disposable foil pans then cover with foil, label, and freeze.
- Ziplock Freezer Bags
- Plastic wrap
- Disposable foil pans
Freezer cooking tips:
- Chill foods completely in the refrigerator before freezing them. This will not only prevent ice crystals from forming on top, but will help keep the temperature of the freezer from drastically dropping when adding unfrozen foods to it.
- Freeze foods FLAT in Ziplock bags to avoid clumping and so they can stack in the freezer.
- Chop raw ingredients like fruits, vegetables, etc. before freezing flat in a Ziplock freezer bag.
- Label bags/packaging with date frozen, enjoy-by date, contents, and reheating instructions.
- Click here for recommendations on how long to store frozen foods.
Tips to avoid freezer burn:
My two best tips for preventing freezer burn is to never freeze warm or hot foods, and wrap as airtight as possible! More on that…
- Never put hot or warm foods into the freezer. Chill completely before packaging.
- Remove as much air as possible from freezer bags before freezing (sometimes I stick a straw in the corner of the Ziplock bag to suck all the air out.)
- Wrap foods that don’t fit in freezer bags, like quick breads, first in plastic wrap and then foil.
- If using plastic or glass containers to freeze liquids like broth or soup, leave room at the top for liquid to expand once frozen.
- Don’t overload the freezer with a ton of unfrozen foods at once, which will bring down the temperature of the freezer. Freeze unfrozen, chilled foods in batches.
Foods that freeze well:
- Chicken breasts (cooked or raw)
- Ground meat (cooked or raw)
- Salmon filets (raw)
- Bacon (I prefer raw)
- Shredded cheese
- Berries (slice larger berries like strawberries first)
- Chopped fruit: bananas, pineapple, mango, peaches, pitted cherries
- Vegetables: peas, chopped carrots, sweet corn kernels, chopped onions
- Chopped squash (for pureeing once thawed)
- Lemon/lime juice
- Marinara sauce
- Baby spinach and chopped kale (throw directly into smoothies)
- Chopped fresh herbs (freeze in ice cube trays in extra virgin olive oil)
- Prepared mashed potatoes
- Prepared waffles/pancakes
- Cooked brown rice
- Cooked wild rice
- Uncooked gnocchi
- Cooked or dried beans
- Ground flax seed
Foods that don’t freeze well:
- Cooked gluten-free pasta (for this reason I don’t recommend freezing casseroles made with GF pasta)
- Previously fried foods – freeze breaded foods un-fried then thaw before frying
- Cheesy/milk-based soups
- Fruits or vegetables with high water content – watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, celery
- Recipes with cooked white rice (cooked wild rice freezes fine)
Alrighty, let’s get to stocking that freezer with these 50+ gluten-free, freezer-friendly recipes!
Soups, Stews, and Chili
Prepare then chill completely, scoop into gallon Ziplock bags, and freeze flat. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then heat in a soup pot or in individual portions in bowls.
- Signature Spicy, Smoky, Sweet Chili
- Roasted Tomato Soup
- Best-Ever Black Bean Soup – prepare rice the day you eat.
- Crock Pot White Chicken Chili
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Smoky Roasted Chickpeas and Bacon
- Crock Pot Sweet Potato and Quinoa Turkey Chili
- Spicy Tomato and Turkey Soup
- Ben’s Beef Stew
- Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Smoked Sausage and Chicken Gumbo
- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup – prepare noodles the day you eat.
Prepare then chill completely, scoop into gallon Ziplock bags, and freeze flat. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in a saucepan and serve.
You can freeze burgers, meatloaves, and meatballs cooked or uncooked. I prefer to freeze meat raw on a baking sheet then transfer to a Ziplock freezer bag once frozen. Thaw meat in the refrigerator then bake/prepare according to recipe instructions. In the case of freezing cooked ground meat, cool cooked meat completely then transfer to a freezer bag and freeze flat.
- Incredible Italian Meatballs
- Honey Balsamic BBQ Meatballs – make sauce the day you eat.
- Mini Mediterranean Turkey Meatloaves
- Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves
- Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloaves
- Chili Lime Chicken Burgers
- Crock Pot Mojo Pork – make beans, rice, and toppings the day you eat.
- Crock Pot Sausage and Peppers – prepare pasta the day you eat.
- Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
- Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork
- Crock Pot Ranchero Chicken
- Pulled Pork Taquitos
- PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps
- Crock Pot Loose Meat
- Chick-fil-A Bites
- Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers – make sauce the day you eat.
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Browned ground beef/sausage – use in Cheeseburger Quesadillas, tacos, combine with a jar of marinara, breakfast scrambles, etc.
Assemble casseroles up to the baking step then chill, cover tightly with plastic wrap and then foil, and then freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then bake according to recipe instructions. You can bake casseroles directly from the freezer but there is a bit of guesswork involved in timing and temperature.
- Crock Pot Shredded Beef Enchiladas
- Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce
- Roasted Poblano Salsa Chicken Enchiladas
- Gluten-Free Party Potatoes Deluxe
- Lazy Girl’s Ravioli Lasagna (use GF ravioli) – bake from frozen at 350 degrees for 20 minutes then turn heat up to 400 and bake according to directions.
Quick breads, muffins, cupcakes, and cookies are perfect for freezing! Cool completely then, in the case of muffins, cupcakes, and cookies, transfer to a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze. Cool quick breads completely then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze in a Ziplock freezer bag or wrap in foil if they won’t fit in a bag. Thaw in the refrigerator, on the counter, or wrap in paper towels while frozen and microwave at 50% power until warm.
- Gluten-Free Zucchini Coffee Cake
- Healthier Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- Apple Crisp Muffins
- Fresh Apple Cake
- Soft Batch Apple Cider Gingersnap Cookies
Bites and Snacks
Chill bites and snacks completely then freeze on a baking sheet and transfer to a Ziplock freezer bag once frozen. All of these recipes (except granola and Puppy Chow which don’t need to be thawed!) can be reheated in the microwave at 50% power from frozen.
- Mini Pizza Quinoa Bites
- Mini Ham and Cheese Quinoa Cups
- Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Quinoa Bites
- Mini Corn Dog Muffins
- Crunchy Quinoa Granola
- Puppy Chow
- No-Bake Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Each recipe contains freezing instructions so refer to the post when making and freezing these gluten-free breakfast recipes!