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14 Make-Ahead Dinners to Freeze Now & Eat All Winter Long

Food52 logo Food52 1/22/2019 Katie Macdonald
a plate of food on a table © Provided by Food52

I remember when my parents decided to buy a stand-alone freezer. They rolled the enormous ice box into our garage, and my sister and I promptly began listing all the ice cream flavors we’d like to stuff inside. My parents had other ideas.

The new freezer was to be a savory-food-only zone—a place to stash my mom’s big batches of crawfish étouffée and gumbo, my dad’s steaks and stews. No more cramming containers into our fridge’s little drawer. It marked a new era, an Ice Age of freezer-friendly meals to pull out and thaw on busy weeknights.

Now, I don’t have space for an extra freezer in my tiny New York apartment (heck, I’m thankful my kitchen is big enough for a dishwasher), but that hasn’t stopped me from following in my parents’ footsteps. I like to make soups and sauces and trays of baked pastas during free weekends for effortless meals in the weeks to come. Below, I’ve gathered 14 recipes that freeze super well and make weeknight dinners a cinch. Check them out and stock up.

Homemade Freezer-Friendly Meals

a bowl of food on a table: Beef Bourguignon © Provided by Food52 Beef Bourguignon Beef Bourguignon by TasteFood

This warming beef stew tastes even better as the flavors meld. Bonus, you can easily make it in a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or multi-function cooker.

a plate of food on a table: Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi © Provided by Food52 Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi

Grandma DiLaura's Italian Ricotta Gnocchi by cdilaura

This recipe is easy enough to make on a weeknight, but make a few batches at once and you won't need to.

a plate of food on a table: Mom's New Orleans Red Beans & Rice © Provided by Food52 Mom's New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

Mom's New Orleans Red Beans & Rice by Katie Macdonald

This comforting, creamy red bean recipe gets an added zip from pickle juice and holds up in the freezer for up to 4 months.

a bowl of soup on a table: Celeriest Celery-Potato Soup © Provided by Food52 Celeriest Celery-Potato Soup

Celeriest Celery-Potato Soup by Eric Kim

The tastiest, most satisfying way to use up that stalk of celery languishing in your crisper drawer.

a plate of food on a table: Ethel Sellis' Stuffed Cabbage © Provided by Food52 Ethel Sellis' Stuffed Cabbage

Ethel Sellis' Stuffed Cabbage by Ella Quittner

A burbling, tomatoey stew from Food Writer & Recipe Developer Ella Quittner’s family recipe box.

a plate of food with a fork: Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage © Provided by Food52 Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage by Merrill Stubbs

Bake this hearty sausage pasta straight from the freezer. Warm it up at 350°F (covered in foil) for 30 minutes or so, then turn up the heat, uncover it, and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top.

a bowl of food on a plate: Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens © Provided by Food52 Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens

Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens by Medha | Farm on Plate

This warm and hearty lentil soup is perfect for any chilly winter night. Make an extra big batch because it probably won't last long.

a plate of food on a table: Aunt Alice's Stromboli © Provided by Food52 Aunt Alice's Stromboli

Aunt Alice's Stromboli by meganvt01

Like a pizza pocket but better, this meaty, cheesy stromboli is great for dinner and as an app for hungry guests.

a plate of food: Chicken Fingers © Provided by Food52 Chicken Fingers

Chicken Fingers by Merrill Stubbs

Nothing beats crispy, homemade chicken fingers. After breading the chicken (but before baking), place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and into the freezer. Freeze until frozen, then place into a freezer bag. When ready to cook, arrange on a baking rack set on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and bake at 425°F for about 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

a bunch of food sitting on a table: New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies © Provided by Food52 New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies

New Zealand-Style Beef & Cheddar Pies by Miranda Keyes

These hand pies hail from New Zealand and freeze beautifully both baked or unbaked.

a plate of food on a table: Boiled Pork Dumplings with Dad’s Awesome Hot Sauce © Provided by Food52 Boiled Pork Dumplings with Dad’s Awesome Hot Sauce

Boiled Pork Dumplings with Dad’s Awesome Hot Sauce by Tashie

According to resident Genius Kristen Miglore, “dumplings have a nasty reputation of being time-consuming, but Tashie’s simplified version of her dad’s recipe is quick to put together and incredibly flavorful—from the well-seasoned filling to the kicky but balanced dipping sauce.” What are you waiting for?

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf © Provided by Food52 Spicy Turkey Meatloaf

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf by Erin McDowell

A classic freezer-friendly dish gets a feisty spicy Sriracha kick. Serve with your favorite veggies on the side and you're good to go.

a tray of food: Grandma Clari's Empanadas © Provided by Food52 Grandma Clari's Empanadas Grandma Clari's Empanadas by nogaga

For warm little pockets of love meat anytime, simply freeze extra unbaked empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet—they go straight from the freezer to the oven.

a slice of pizza on a plate: Jennie's Homemade Manicotti © Provided by Food52 Jennie's Homemade Manicotti

Jennie's Homemade Manicotti by Jennifer Perillo

Manicotti are the weekend project you didn’t know you were looking for. Freeze them unbaked, then thaw in refrigerator the night before you want to eat.


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