7 Kid-Tested Freezer Meals That'll Change Your Life

Find out how one mom guarantees go-to dinners with the help of make-ahead meals.
By: Foodlets

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.

Charity Curley Mathews is a mother of four kids under six and the founder of Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. She’s a contributor to The Huffington Post and POPSUGAR. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Keep Reading

Next Up

7 Recipes That'll Make Tomato Lovers Out of Your Kids

Find out which tomato-focused recipes one mom of four serves to her little ones.

How to Put Your Freezer to Work, Plus Frozen Meals Made Fresh

Learn how to safely freeze food, plus find Food Network Kitchens' easy recipes for kid-friendly dinners that can be made ahead, frozen and baked later.

Embrace the Freezer Aisle: 3 Frozen Foods to Always Have on Hand

Learn how to shop the freeze aisle, and find out what three frozen foods you shouldn’t be without.

How to Keep the Kids' Snack Time from Ruining Your Life

Find out how one mom keeps her kids' snack time simple and streamlined with go-to eats for her little ones.

One Recipe, Two Meals: Chicken Burritos

It's winter and you really need these in your life.

One Recipe, Two Meals: Creamy, Cheesy Potato Soup

There's nothing better than a carb you can slurp. Let's look at a yumz potato soup that will make every face in your house super-duper giddy.

One Recipe, Two Meals: Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

If you feel like your face has been lacking the presence of gnocchi in it, no fear! This post is for you — and your face.

Meals to Make With Your Wallet in Mind

Check out Food Network's favorite money-saving tips, plus can-do, kid-friendly recipes that are easy to prepare on a budget.

Cook Once, Eat Twice: Meals That Do Double Duty

One mom shares her secrets for making meals that can transform from one dish into another with fresh flavors all their own.