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!
join the conversation
15+ Freezer Meals to Make Before Having a Baby or Surgery - A Patient Exchange 08.27.2018
[…] couple years ago I wrote a big, comprehensive post on 50+ Gluten-Free Freezer-Friendly Recipes that you may want to check out as well. Not only does this post contain, yep, 50+ GF/FF […]
Hi! Also having baby #3 in a few weeks! I have a question, when you say “freeze on a baking sheet, then transfer to ziplock freezer bag” do you mean place it directly in the freezer, on a baking sheet, UNCOVERED? Not trying to yell-haha. Just thinking freezer burn would set in if uncovered on a sheet. Making sure I understand.
Also I LOVE your website, recently discovered it and it makes me feel like I can cook when I really am not a cook! Hoping I can use the next two weeks to make some fantastic freezer meals to feed my family when baby arrives!
Hey Kristin! I recently found a Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe that I wanted to try freezing. It contains a bit of greek yogurt though. Do you think it would still be freezable, or would the dairy prevent it from freezing well?
Hi Kristi! I think a little bit of Greek yogurt is ok. GY has a tendency to “curdle” a little bit when frozen but if you whip the potatoes really well after thawing they should be just fine!
Celiac Disease Friendly Recipes 10.05.2016
[…] 50+ Freezer-Friendly Recipes – Here are 50+ gluten-free freezer-friendly recipes, plus tips on how to freeze foods … This time will be even harder as I can’t accept meals from friends on account of my Celiac Disease, so I … […]
Sarah C 09.28.2016
Ah, thank-you for this. I’ve wanted to prep some frozen meals each time I have a baby, but never have. I think with #3 coming in November I’ll give it a try this time. Between these and Hy-Vee’s Grocery Delivery (mama’s new best friend!), we should be covered!
Congrats on boy #2! Having multiple boys is super fun!
Lisa B 09.27.2016
This is a great recipe collection! I’m doing freezer meals on weekends to try (try try try) and make weeknights a little less hectic. Thanks for putting them together!
I also wanted to suggest that you COULD still accept meals from friends- if you have big-hearted friends who don’t mind coming to your house! I get that contamination is your big worry, so what if Ben provided the groceries, you provided the recipes, and you had a few girlfriends or family over to do a few meal assemblies for you? You’d get some social time out of it as well, your friends would feel happy to have helped, and you’d get a freezer of meals that you didn’t have to lift a finger for. And isn’t that the goal of every new momma?? :) Just an idea I had!
That is an awesome idea, Lisa!! Definitely might have to get a little assembly line action going over here! ;)
When my sister had a surprise baby 12 years after her first 3, we made freezer meals for her baby shower. Instead of playing games, I had collected her family’s favorite recipes. Each station had the recipe and ingredients and teams put together meals for their family. The recipes were marked with which family member chose it and left space for the preparers to leave notes for my sister’s family for later. They loved it, the guests loved it too.
Hi, Kristin! My DIL Carolina (your friend!) told me about your blog. It is gorgeous, and I’ve pinned and printed at least 20 recipes today at work… cooking is one of my very favorite things to do; my latest love is all things Inspiralizer (inspiralized.com). Keep up the great work. I’ll be checking back, I’m sure of it!!
Thank you so much for the nice note, Jill! Yes – totally addicted to spiralizing over here, too! My current favorite is spiralized sweet potato rice sauteed with chorizo then topped with a fried egg. Sooo yummy. :)
Oh thank you so much for this! I’m a part of a Freezer Dinner Club and this is going to be helpful and useful for future dinner ideas.
Oh how fun! I hope your group gets some good ideas from it! :)
Kelly K 09.23.2016
I try to tell as many expectant mothers I know as possible that the best thing I did in preparing for the birth of our son was fill the freezer!
In the weeks leading up to my due date, I would double recipes – macaroni and cheese, enchiladas and, one of our favorites, a sloppy joe mixture topped with cornbread – and freeze half in a disposable foil pan. Tackling just one or two a week made it less overwhelming, time-wise and budget-wise.
I also made snacks for myself, as I heard I would be starving all the time while nursing. I made your Baked Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Bars, cut and wrapped them individually in plastic wrap, then placed all the bars in a freezer bag. They froze beautifully, and I loved them – lying in bed, on the car ride to our first doctor’s appointment, everywhere! My husband would pull some out at night, so I would have lots to snack on during the following day.
Just for fun, I froze balls of chocolate chip cookie dough, too, so we could have warm, homemade cookies whenever we needed a pick-me-up. I would also throw a few in the oven when family and friends visited.
Thanks for this post! I love it! … And I’m so excited for your family! :-)
Thank you so much, Kelly! Much appreciated!! :)
carla valpeoz 09.23.2016
these recepies are making my mouth water. I am not huge on meat, but I have been leaning a lot towards gluton free foods and it’s amazing how your body feels when your diet changes. I say, if I have enough protein for the day and my daily intake of fruits and vegetables, I should have the right amount of energy to keep going. Oh, and I love carrot cake so I am excited to try this new recipe out!
Those cookies are awesome – I hope you love them, Carla!
This is being saved! I’m expecting my first little bundle of joy in March and will definitely be putting these tips to use as all my husband can handle is reheating food. Thank you!
Hehehehe… ;) Congrats, Ashley!!
Thank you thank you thank you!! I have recently been searching for freezer-friendly recipes and this post was PERFECT! As a broke grad student, this is much appreciated :)
You bet, Kristi, I’m so glad it’ll be able to help you! :D
I just made a double batch of your smokey chili this week and froze half…love that recipe!!
So glad to hear it! It’s on the agenda to make >> freeze this weekend! :)