It's a three-day weekend for many of us; what are you doing with your day of freedom? Here's one idea: Use it to stock up on freezer meals and earn yourself lazy, easy summer evenings — no cooking needed.
From make-ahead taco kits to chicken and rice casserole, we have 25 delicious ways to stock your freezer (or the freezer of someone you love) on this lazy Monday.
These are also wonderful little gifts for those welcoming new babies and feeding new parents, or caring for anyone else who is going through a busy time of life. Regardless of whose table these are for, it is a beautiful thing to prepare recipes that can be easily packed away in the freezer and reheated when you need them.
Do your best to keep things simple and package the meals in individual or two-serving portions. Make sure to include reheating instructions, and you'll get bonus points for packing them in containers that can go directly from freezer to oven or microwave.
Pizza night has a way of making everything better — especially when it's homemade pizza. Make a few different personal-sized pies with different toppings so there's some variety. Then all your friends have to do is unwrap and bake.
Try preparing this casserole in aluminum loaf pans instead of the full 9x13-inch casserole dish. That way the new parents won't have to worry about leftovers. You can bake it all the way before freezing it, and then it can just be heated until warm enough to serve.
Tacos might not be the first meal that comes to mind when you think of freezer meals, but these taco kits are a great thing to give. Simply prepare and package the meat, cheese, tortillas, and any sautéed veggies, and then the new parents can top with salsa, scallions, hot sauce, and more on their own.
Similar to the frozen pizza idea, calzones get bonus points here for being a meal that you can eat one-handed, which is especially important for new parents who are probably trying to multitask their way through dinner.
Instead of relying on frozen dinners, with their goopy, sweet sauce, this frozen stir-fry follows our basic recipe, but gets completely packaged up. Once you pull it out of the freezer, all you'll need to do is toss it in a wok or large skillet to cook it up and serve over rice.
Pierogis make a great lunch — especially these, which can be considered a complete meal on their own. All it takes is a bit of time in the pan to reheat them (or the microwave in a pinch!), and lunch is taken care of.
Similar to calzones, these pockets are one of the best items on this list for their ability to be eaten one-handed. Just think of them like a calzone without the red sauce or mozzarella. The lentils provide enough protein to make a hearty, energy-filled meal. Our preferred method of reheating these is in the toaster oven to keep them crisp.
Even though it's warmer outside, don't overlook soup as a great option. There will be those rainy days when comfort food is called for. Once again, freeze these in smaller portions. It's always easier to reheat a couple containers than it is to defrost and cook the whole pot only to eat one bowlful.
If you really want to be the hero, think about breakfast. So many friends with good intentions focus on bringing over meals that are more suited for lunch or dinner, but breakfasts can be just as hard. Think of these like savory homemade Pop Tarts. They're sure to win you points.
Go ahead and make these from start to finish, and then package them in individual containers with shredded cheese scattered on top. Opt for microwave-safe plastic or tinfoil pans that can go directly into the oven or toaster oven.
Don't underestimate the appeal of a good casserole. This one might feel a bit like lasagna, but it uses farfalle pasta instead of the wide noodles. This a great pasta dish for a friend who doesn't really like red sauce that much.
This soup is just as simple as it is comforting. You can make it with pretty much any vegetables you have on hand and with whatever type of stock you prefer as well. Just don't forget to add a bit of lemon juice or vinegar for some brightness at the end.
Who doesn't love a breakfast sandwich? Even better, who doesn't love one that's ready and waiting at a moment's notice? These freezer-friendly ones are the ideal treat for new parents.
Since meal times can get out of whack when there's a new little one in the house, opt for freezer meals that are hearty enough to last for several hours. These burritos are filled with rice, black beans, tofu crumbles, and roasted veggies. All you need once you've heated one up is some hot sauce.
Potstickers are always good to have in the freezer. They cook quickly and can be a snack, meal, or anything in between. Just make sure you gift those new parents some quality soy sauce so they are dipping their potstickers into something great.
Leave off the cheese and these baked potato halves can be wrapped tightly in foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to three months. You can stick with the Southwestern theme, or substitute in other spices and veggies for your own personal twist.
When freezing these enchiladas, make sure you line your pan with parchment so you can lift it out of your glass casserole dish once it's frozen and wrap it in a zippered plastic bag or aluminum foil. Then when your friends are ready to bake it, they can simply put it in their own baking dish, parchment and all.
Frittatas are one of those magical dishes that can be served for any meal of the day. This sausage and chile version is protein-packed and absolutely mouth-watering. We'd recommend including some frozen biscuits to go along with it.
These hot sandwiches are almost essential to have in your freezer. They take lunchtime from sad to stupendous. In fact, we'd recommend making an extra batch to keep in your freezer when you make some for the new parents in your life.
There's a reason so many frozen dinner brands have a version of pasta (usually fettuccine) Alfredo and broccoli. It's a classic combination that freezes well and reheats beautifully. This individual portion is made into a full meal with the addition of sliced rotisserie or leftover roast chicken.
For your vegetarian mama friends, these sweet potato patties are a welcome break from those store-bought frozen veggie burgers. The chickpeas help hold the sweet potatoes together, and the Sriracha-yogurt dip is a delightful alternative to traditional condiments.
Fried rice is a classic dish, and you might be surprised to learn that it freezes well. Simply make it like you normally would, and then freeze it in individual portions for a quick one-bowl meal.
What's the secret to this veggie burger? Beets, black beans, and a whole lot of spices. It's a great item to keep stocked — even for carnivores. In fact, make this for your new parent friends once, and they might just ask you to bring more the next time you visit.
Okay, this one isn't a meal per se, but it is a wonderful item to bring to new parents. With these pre-cooked grains, they can cut down on prep time for dinner exponentially. It's a good reminder that sometimes the things that look less impressive are the ones that are most useful.