We're talking homemade gifts all week at The Kitchn, since it is, after all, that time of year. We are very excited about toffee, caramels, and other sweet things, but my mind has also been wandering in a different direction. While I love pistachio brittle as much as the next girl, what I would really squeal over right now is a meal to stash in my freezer for a busy weeknight, or a pan of dinner rolls to add fresh-baked warmth to an evening meal.
If you want to take something a little different and even more nourishing to a friend this holiday season, here are ten ideas for homemade gifts to stock their freezer.
These ideas started popping up for me as I cooked like a maniac last week, getting ready for out-of-town Thanksgiving guests. I did some serious make-ahead cooking, freezing carnitas, chicken stew, and breakfast goodies ahead of time. Every time I pulled a pan of parbaked dinner rolls out of the freezer I felt like I had given myself a gift, and I thought, why not do this for others?
There are so many sweet treats this time of year, and often what would really be appreciated is a meal for later, or something warm for breakfast. It doesn't have to be a whole meal, or a 10-pound lasagna. Breakfast rolls wrapped in foil, a batch of frozen tomato sauce, or a few cubes of frozen herbs would make practical, much-appreciated gifts during the winter season. And if you want to stick with the sweets, then who would not be grateful for frozen cookie dough?
Sure, you can't wrap these things up all pretty and leave them under the tree. But you can fold brightly-colored wrapping around a package of lemon rolls, and label it with a strip of sparkly washi tape (don't forget to include baking or reheating directions). Hand it over to your host or just stash it quietly in their freezer and tell them later. When all that toffee is gone, they'll still have breakfast to look forward to.
- Dinner Rolls: See our post How To Freeze & Reheat Dinner Rolls on how to make dinner rolls ahead and freeze them, unbaked or baked. You could gift them in a disposable pan, or just put them in foil.
- Cookie Dough: Almost any cookie dough will freeze well! See our post about this here: How To Freeze Cookie Dough. Gift a bag of little frozen dough lumps, or a log of icebox cookie dough.
- Pizza Dough: Have a friend who loves homemade pizza? Gift her with a ball or two of homemade pizza dough. All she'll need to do is thaw it in the fridge overnight and presto, time for pizza. See instructions here: How To Freeze Pizza Dough
- Breakfast Sweet Rolls: This is is perhaps my favorite freezer gift. Cinnamon rolls and other sweet breakfast breads freezer beautifully. Just bake them for about half the regular baking time, let them cool, then slip them into a freezer bag. See more advice for freezing sweet rolls here: The Best Way to Freeze Cinnamon Rolls: Parbake & Freeze Sweet Rolls Now. (I recommend one of these recipes: Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze, No-Knead Pumpkin Rolls with Brown Sugar Glaze, or Kugelhopf Breakfast Rolls.)
- Homemade Stock: Do you know what I do to someone who brought me a big container of frozen homemade beef or turkey stock? KISS them. Save a pretty jar or two for sharing your post-Thanksgiving turkey stock bounty with a fellow cook. (Get a stock refresher here: How To Make Homemade Chicken Stock)
- Herbs in Olive Oil: Freeze leftover fresh herbs with olive oil for cooking later, or melting and dipping. A little bag of these would be a bright gift for a friend's freezer.
Dinners for the Freezer
- Lunch Pockets: These lentil-stuffed hand pies are the healthy answer to Hot Pockets' convenience. Make a batch and share with someone else. Get the recipe here: Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale Whole Wheat Pockets. (Or go for something a little more gooey and make Homemade Calzones!)
- Frozen Pizza: The ultimate freezer convenience food — but all glammed up since it's homemade. Get the full instructions here: How to Make Frozen Pizzas at Home
- Meatballs or Tomato Sauce: Hello! A batch of meatballs or pasta sauce for the freezer? So much better than another round of Christmas cookies.
- Chicken Pot Pies: These individual chicken pot pies are just right for one or two people. They don't take up much room in the freezer, but they would really help out on a busy weeknight. Get the recipe here: How to Make (and Freeze!) Individual Chicken Pot Pies
This is just the tip of the (freezer) iceberg! What else have you gifted (or would like to receive!) for the freezer?