7 Kid-Tested Freezer Meals That'll Change Your Life
Every afternoon was the same at my house: tired kids running around, alternately asking for snacks, playing and fighting. I was distracted in the kitchen trying to get a fresh meal on the table — something that didn't come out of a sack and something that would nourish us. Then I discovered how to use my freezer to cook dinner.
Now when I’m prepping dinner, I can double (or split) it into two portions, one for now and one for later. Not every recipe will cooperate, but these family-friendly dishes work beautifully for just such a job:
Honey-Mustard Chicken: If you try nothing else, try this one that our kids love. Chicken thighs (or breasts) bake in a simple sweet sauce; double the recipe and throw half into a baking dish for dinner and the other serving into a zip-top bag bound for the freezer. Serve both over your favorite grain to soak up all that juice.
Giada De Laurentiis' Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables: A one-pot meal brimming with fresh veggies like zucchini, summer squash and peppers sounds perfect for spring, but Giada’s penne goes the extra kid-friendly mile with two kinds of cheeses. Prep the entire recipe and pour into two pans (or double it for large groups); cook one pan and cover the other with foil for the freezer.
Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala: This is beginner masala. It's not too spicy, but every bite is still full of flavor. And best of all, you can prep two batches; throw one in the slow cooker and pour the other (uncooked) into a zip-top bag and freeze.
Ina Garten’s Mac and Cheese: No boxed stuff here. Ina’s five-star mac and cheese oozes with gooey Gruyère and freshly grated cheddar, and it's perfect topped with slivers of juicy tomatoes. It’s a big, rich recipe, and you can easily freeze half.
Zucchini, Rice & Sausage Bake: Another one-pot meal with a built-in veggie, this Italian casserole is our go-to potluck dish or the one we always bring to a friend in need. I usually have one in the freezer — unless we eat it first!
Food Network Magazine's Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Cook the entire pork roast first, then divvy it up, freezing half the meat for later. For tonight, mix up your BBQ sauce and set out all the fixings: buns, pickles and even crunchy coleslaw for a topping kids can add themselves.
Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole with Quinoa: This is basically an assembled casserole with everything already precooked, so you don’t need to bake it ahead of time to freeze. Just use two small pans; bake one and freeze the other.