For a long time, I thought of the freezer as the enemy. It seemed like it was only good for storing my binge-worthy ice cream and disappointing and unsatisfying pre-made meals. Recently, though, I've had a change of heart. I've made some pretty damn good healthy freezer meals, and using the freezer as an extension of my pantry has helped me put homemade dinners on the table in a pinch.
All of this has got me thinking, though: is the food I throw in the freezer good indefinitely? I know that freezing food slows the bacteria growth, but the quality of that food probably degenerates over time, right? Exactly! Thanks to our friends over at PopSugar, this infographic breaks it down and demystifies exactly how long you can keep those foods in the freezer.
Stay tuned after the image for some great meals you can cook that make the best healthy freezer meals!
Recommended Storage Times of Frozen Food
Our favorite healthy freezer meals
All you need to do with these healthy freezer meals is make them, pop them in the freezer, and reheat. They'll be ready to serve as soon as they're warmed through, so it's the easiest way to get a healthy home-cooked meal on the dinner table.
1. Roasted Chili Verde Chicken Enchiladas
This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts to create a super juicy, protein packed casserole dinner. Make an extra one of these freezer friendly meals to pop in the freezer and you'll only need to go to the grocery store to get fresh cilantro and sour cream to serve it up!
A little insiders secret: make this in an aluminum foil baking dish. That way, you can pop it straight into the freezer without having to change it out into a zip-top bag or airtight freezer-safe container. It'll save you a step when you're freezing it, and one when you reheat it, too!
2. Slow Cooker Chicken & Black Bean Burrito Bowls
You could use white beans or kidney beans if you like, but there's something about black beans that makes the burrito bowl! It will taste even better when you know how easy it is to make in the slow cooker. No one else will know, though, because the flavors will be so nuanced they'll swear you sweated over the stove all day.
All you need to do to make this freezer friendly is cook the rice separately. Pop a serving in a freezer bag and you'll have individual portions ready to go. Lunch, dinner - you choose! Just cook up some brown rice in the rice cooker the day of and you'll be ready to go. Find the recipe here.
3. All-American Meatloaf
Meal prep couldn't be easier when you have a meatloaf in the freezer. This is freezer cooking at its finest! There are so many ways you can go with it. Stick to the classic meatloaf and mashed potatoes meal, or serve it up on a sandwich bun with some pesto. I've even made stuffed shells with leftover meatloaf and I bet it would be good on pizza, too!
The best way to freeze meatloaf is in whole portions, so resist slicing individual servings and wrapping them up if you can. If you want to break a whole meatloaf into a few different freezer meals, cut the meatloaf into thirds. Then, you can make individual slices after you've reheated it. Find the recipe here.
4. Roasted Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese
Wait, we said healthy freezer meals, didn't we? Why are we including a macaroni and cheese? Because this one is filled with nutrient-dense butternut squash! The creaminess in this dish mostly comes from being chock full of roasted veggies, but it'll taste decadent and rich. Better yet, this is one of those freezer-friendly recipes that certainly won't taste like frozen food.
This is one of those comfort food favorites that's great to have on-hand for emergencies. Popping a tray of this delicious mac and cheese is so much better than going out for fast food in a pinch! Find the recipe here.
5. Sweet Potato Hash
Don't forget about breakfast when preparing your favorite freezer meals! Sometimes it's hard to get breakfast for a crowd on the table, especially when you have overnight guests. This sweet potato hash is super nutrient dense (and it doesn't hurt that it's a paleo recipe, either!). You'll love how the savory flavors fill you up and keep you full for hours.
All you'll need to do to reheat this breakfast is dump the contents of the freezer-safe bag into a cast iron. Pop it in the oven until everything is warmed through. Then, crack on a couple eggs and bake until their finished. Voila, it's that easy!