Make It Now, Freeze It for Later: 5 Recipes to Get You Through Back-to-School Madness

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With ever-mounting homework assignments and after-school activities, who has time to figure out weeknight dinners? A family’s gotta eat, though, and several weeks of takeout and delivery pizzas can get tiresome, not to mention costly. Getting ahead of schedule is key to surviving back-to-school chaos with your wallet (and sanity) in tact, and that’s where your freezer comes into play.

Start stockpiling quick, flavorsome and balanced meals to thaw and serve as needed. Soups, stews and casseroles are ideal on those cool evenings that signal the transition from summer to fall. And when they’re stored in airtight containers, these dishes will stay fresh in your freezer for weeks or even months at a time. Here are five freezer-friendly recipes you can count on in the throes of back-to-school madness.

Turkey-and-Artichoke-Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce (pictured above)

Giada De Laurentiis reinvents this classic casserole with an artichoke-studded ricotta filling and a zesty red sauce that’s got the whole family covered. Once you’ve assembled the shells in your baking dish, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and freeze up to one month.

Chicken Cacciatore

Pull off Ellie Krieger’s lighter version of this traditional Italian dish by cooking chicken breasts to tender perfection in a garlicky stew of herbs and wine. Make a double batch so you can enjoy a plate warm, and freeze the rest for later.

Spinach Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu

This make-ahead, freeze-for-later dish is exactly the kind of comforting meal you’ll want to come home to once the school year begins. Assemble the lasagna and freeze — or make it a day ahead and simply pop it into the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature 30 minutes before baking and you’ll be good to go.

Chicken Stew

Giada’s stew is quick and easy to prepare because it doesn’t require cooking a whole chicken. Using only chicken breasts cuts down on cook time and prep work. Enjoy a warm bowlful once it’s ready, then freeze the rest for later.

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Make-Ahead Deep-Dish Apple Pie

Make the transition from summer to fall a little sweeter with Food Network Kitchen’s freezer-friendly apple pie. This is the perfect baking project for a weekend afternoon, and best of all, it requires only 30 minutes of prep. When you’re ready for a slice, simply thaw the pie in the fridge overnight, then pop it into the oven right before serving to take the chill off.

Worried about freezer burn or improper food storage? Master the art of fresh freezer dinners with these tips .