I’ve had several requests lately for freezer-friendly meal ideas. It must be that time of year! With our little bambino on the way in a couple months, I’ve been making a list of meals I’m going to try to make in advance to stash away in the freezer. It will be a miracle if I can even get through a third of this list below (considering I have no working oven until late August…minor detail, hah), but I included plenty of options so you have some variety to choose from! The recipes at the top of my “must-make” list are: My Favourite Vegan Chili; Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup; Pumpkin Gingerbread Snack Bars; Summer Harvest Tortilla Soup (from OSG cookbook); Crowd-Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole (OSG cookbook); Feel Good Hearty Granola Bars; veggie burgers/balls; Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ‘Larabars’; and my Indian-Lentil Cauliflower Soup (also from OSG cookbook). That should be a good start!
First a few Q + A’s…
What to freeze in? I switched to glass, BPA-free freezer + oven-safe containers last year, so I always use those for freezing (I use these Pyrex containers). The added bonus is that you can bake thawed casseroles/enchiladas right in the very dish! Yay, for less dishes. I also use Glasslock containers, but those are not oven-safe, fyi. Lastly, I use freezer-safe zip bags for foods like granola bars, granola, and cookies. I always rinse and reuse the bags when I’m done with them to cut down on waste and save money (those things are expensive). Mason jars (for canning/freezing) also work well. Tip: We also use freezer bags for freezing bananas for smoothies. At any given moment you can find about 2 bags stuffed with peeled bananas in the freezer!
How to freeze? As for the method I use to freeze things, it’s pretty basic. I’m a big fan of what I call the wrap + seal technique (totally just made that up), meaning that I wrap the cooled food first (usually in tin foil or other freezer-safe bag) and then place the wrapped food in the glass container and lock/seal the lid. I like that it has two layers of protection from freezer burn. This method works great for single-serving foods like veggie burgers/balls, burritos, or snack bars. If it’s a liquid-based dish like soup, pesto, sauce, casserole, or chili, I will pour it into the dish and then sometimes put a layer of wrap on top of it. Press the foil/wrap down to prevent freezer burn from forming and then secure the lid as usual. It helps to leave an inch of so of space at the top to allow for any expansion. For those who don’t want to use foil or wrap, you can try wrapping with parchment paper and securing with baking twine or something similar.
How long to freeze for? Ah, the million dollar question! I find this depends on the type of food and your freezer. I’m pretty sensitive to the dreaded freezer-burn taste, so I try not to freeze things for longer than a month or two in my regular (fridge) freezer. It’s really just trial and error though. You can get more mileage out of certain dishes and less with others.
For the recipes that don’t make a very large serving, I like to double or triple the recipe whenever possible. I haven’t tried freezing every single one of the recipes below, but I’ve tried a lot of them. Generally speaking, these categories tend to freeze quite well.
I encourage you to share your freezing methods in the comments! I’m certainly not a freezing pro and welcome all your tips. Update – there are now a ton of great freezing tips in the comment section! Be sure to check them out.
Veggie Burgers + Balls
When it comes to veggie burgers and bean balls, I now prefer to cook them first, cool completely, and then use the wrap + seal freezing technique I mentioned above (wrap individually in tin foil and then place them all in a glass container). When ready to eat, thaw on the countertop or in the fridge and reheat on the skillet with some oil or in the oven on a baking sheet. I find cooking the burgers/balls first and then freezing helps the patties stay together better.
Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers
Soup + Chili
Liquids like soup and chili are freezer-friendly superstars! Most will do just fine. After cooking the soup, let it cool completely, and then place in a freezer-friendly glass container leaving a bit of space at the top for any expansion that might occur. Sometimes I add a layer of tin foil on top of the soup to prevent freezer burn.
Luxurious 7-Vegetable and ‘Cheese’ Soup
Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup
Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Red Quinoa Soup
Pasta Sauce + Pesto
Sauces and pesto’s tend to freeze nicely too. I only freeze the sauce and rarely ever freeze the sauce mixed into cooked pasta or other noodle (it tends to get soggy for many dishes). I use the same freezing method as written above for soup/chili. You can even freeze sauces/pesto’s in smaller portions (for “two” is a popular one around here!), so you don’t need to thaw the entire batch for just one meal. Try freezing pesto in silicone muffin trays for easy removal. Once they are frozen, you can pop them into a reusable freezer-safe zip bags to save freezer space.
I haven’t tried freezing these two below yet, but if you have please leave a comment!
Cauli-power Fettuccine Alfredo Sauce
Enchiladas + Burritos + Casserole
I freeze the Tex Mex Casserole in an extra large oven/freezer-safe glass dish with a layer of tin foil pressed tightly on top of the casserole to prevent freezer burn. Tips: For this specific casserole, I skipped the 15-20 minute oven cooking because I knew I would be cooking it after thawing. I let the skillet mixture cool before adding it into the container. I also waited to add the corn chip garnish until just before baking so they didn’t get soggy. When you are ready to eat it, thaw it completely (this takes well over 24 hours in the fridge – FYI), remove the tin foil, sprinkle on the corn chips, and pop it in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes. Easy! Serve it with sliced avocado, cashew sour cream, sliced green onion, salsa, etc. As for enchiladas, people have told me they had success freezing the entire lot all at once, thawing, and baking as instructed. I would wait to make + add the cilantro avocado sauce until just before serving since it’s avocado based. For burritos, you can wrap them up individually in tin foil or freezer bags and freeze for quick grab and go meals.
Crowd-Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole (from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, page 149)
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas (for an updated version with a 5-minute homemade enchilada sauce (this freezes well too!), see pages 147 and 300 in the OSG cookbook)
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos
For cookies, I bake them as directed, cool completely, and then freeze in freezer-safe zip bags. Some people also have success freezing the portioned cookie dough on a baking sheet and then popping the frozen dough balls into freezer baggies. Then you can thaw on the counter and bake as usual. I’ve also included a link to my recent granola bar recipe – I tested freezing these and they lasted for over a month in the freezer which I was very happy about! They make a great snack and I love that I can thaw one bar at a time as I need them. Lastly, granola always freezes well. My favourite granola is on page 31 of my cookbook.
Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ‘Larabars’
Ultimate Nutty granola Clusters (from The Oh She Glows Cookbook, page 31)
Blissful Blueberry Banana Spelt Muffins
Heavenly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
Pumpkin Gingerbread Snack Bars
This list is by no means inclusive of all the freezer-friendly recipes on the blog over the past 6 years. If I’ve forgotten any good blog recipes that you’ve had freezing success with, be sure to let us know in the comments! The more the merrier.
Thank you so much for sharing your healthy recipes. With your stories of health and your inspirational cooking, I feel motivated to get healthy and start trying a new way of looking at food. Thank you, thank you! I’m off to the market!
wow loved that cauliflower felluicine alfredo, sauce from cauli go figure
Im wondering if you can put all the ingredients in a freezer safe container uncooked. Then freeze it, and pull it out to cook on a later day?
Has anyone tried that?
I would love some more, those balls are great with salads, Buddha bowls, veg and rice or potatoes, curries or a few on a soup, travel with a couple of roti…. Oh yes, I love those!
I love a good pie to cut pieces of and freeze (completely not suttle hint!). A good vegan, gf pastry and plenty of leftover tyoe things and sauce, you know…. But oh they do go well with all the previous.
Me? Lazy, cheap and cheerful. Do the thing and portion it (weight control working so well) and freeze. Siberian (official Irish temperatures yesterday and me post flu jab and feeling rotten) but so happy to go to store brr! And fish out HIS and hers. Some rotis (good and spicy) for me to go with raw salad and hot lime pickle, mmmm! Fruits and sunflower and pumpkin seeds, lecithin granules,(pretty too) Him? Cheese, onion, potato pie, various beany mixture and and sauce, his fruit pie (tsk!) also…. But all home made so not quite as awful as it sounds. I mind him or there is dietary STUFF that makes me shudder!
Nice recipes in vegetarian would like to try it out.
Thanks so much for this post! I am not vegan, but my beloved vegan next door neighbor fell and broke her leg badly today and is going to be on bed rest for weeks recovering. I wanted to make them a bunch of freezer meals so her husband could easily make things for her husband to cook for her. Not being a vegan, I took to the internet to find something and this was perfect! I’m going to make the veggie burgers, the black bean and butternut squash burrito filling, and at least one of the casseroles. Thanks so much!
I just wanted to say thank you for all the recipes you share on your website and your Book! Every single one I have made has been amazing!!! I look forward to all your new recipes and books! Any time I have made one of your dishes for friends and family, those are always the recipes that are loved and that are requested and of course shared!
With much gratitude!
Someone asked about alternatived to foil and plastic to help seal the containers, and it brought to mind a neighbor of mine when I was a little girl. She had a large garden and said she was “getting too old” to can the produce, so would freeze it in her canning jars. She would fill them to within about an inch or so from the top and put the lids on loosely, then freeze them overnight. She would take them back out the next day and pour about a 1/4 in of water over the frozen food, then tighten the lids and put them back in the freezer. I’ve never tried this myself, and only just remembered her doing it.
Just a comment about tomatoes. If you have an abundance from your garden you can rinse them, remove the stem attachment point and freeze them. When ready to use, just rinse and the skin will come off when you do. No blanching needed.
The chana masala from the cookbook freezes like a DREAM. I like to double the recipe and add a bag of frozen green peas. Also, I like to undercook the onions slightly as they will soften upon reheating.
meal snack is quite different .iam going to try out today .thanks for posting very health and amazing recipes.
meal snack was really good tasty and yummy recipe.thanks for the recipe.
Have you ever frozen the filling for the Broccoli & cashew cheese/ quinoa burrito, and if so how, and how well did it freeze?
YESS!!!! Thank you! I’ve been trying to look for good recipes I can cook up
In bulk and freeze ❤️
A two step freeze for casseroles will save some room in the freezer. Freeze it first in the dish you plan to bake in, lined with foil. When solid, pop it out and package as preferred, parchment lined foil, zip tops, whatever. When time to cook, unwrap and thaw in the dish.
I froze your strawberry granola bars and they did great! I made the batter for it a little too runny one time so the freezing them actually helped it stay together better.
Thanks for the feedback, Chelsey!
That was just the article I was looking for!! Thank you so much for sharing this – I actually froze your green warrior smoothie in an ice cube tray to have in the mornings :) Allows me sleep in another few minutes. Cheers!
Hi. For the soups and casseroles, what’s the best way to defrost? Can you microwave straight from frozen, or does it need to thaw overnight?
Hey Alan, I don’t have a microwave so my method is to thaw sightly on the counter (only long enough so that I can get it out of the container), and then I plunk it into a pot on the stovetop to gently simmer until warmed throughout. I hope this helps! I can’t see why a microwave wouldn’t work too though.
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Hey Jen! You can sign up for our In the Glow newsletter here: http://ohsheglows.com/newsletter/ Hope you enjoy the next issue when it comes out!
I’m currently just entering my second trimester. My goal is to make at least one freezer meal a week. If you have a food saver it extends freezer length by at least 5 times. It does this by absorbing all the oxygen out of the plastic before t seals it for you. So if you have something that should keep for 6 months in freezer regularly… a food saver will keep it for a few years in freezer. If you food save dried foods and store in a cool and dark place it can keep for like 15 years (depending on food) without any nutritional degradation.
You can also get attachments to food saver wine bottles and mason jars.
I read the black bean butternut squash recipe and I’d like to try making and freezing those, but what would I put inside of them – just the mixture? Not the spinach or the avocado or salsa right? would we have to stuff those things in later after thawing??
Hi Stacy, Yes, I’d say just add the filling mixture and leave off the extra toppings like avocado and salsa when preparing your burritos for freezing. They’d be better added fresh, after thawing & reheating. As for the spinach, feel free to add it with the filling if you’d like.
Thank you! We have actually been making these regularly now. They are delicious ^_^
Hi, I have a vegan friend coming back from.a long trip, I am going to pick her up to the airport and would like to buy her some things to.put in the fridge just for the first day that she is at home…please any suggestion?for the moment I can only think to soy/ almond milk…thankI youu
Hi Veronica, That’s so thoughtful of you! I’m sure she’ll appreciate it. The simplest thing may be to simply ask her about what she usually keeps on hand, if you’re not sure what kind of particular foods she likes (and if she potentially has any food sensitivities). I would hate to suggest things that she isn’t a fan of! But if you’d like it to be a bit of a surprise as well, you could always bake a vegan recipe to bring to the airport with you, like my Glo Bars (they pack easy) for a long trip pick-me-up. :)
My current freezing tip is to chop up onions, green peppers, carrots, celery etc and freeze them in glass or plastic containers. When I made scrambled eggs the green peppers and onions were already chopped and ready to go. These chopped veggies work best when cooking. Thanks for all the ideas on freezing meals. I am working my way up to whole meals.
I love that tip Debby…totally makes sense to keep the “must-cook” veggies all together! I’ll have to try this. Do you know if you can freeze minced garlic? My guess would be no, but I haven’t tried it before.
I haven’t tried myself but I know Trader Joe’s has frozen garlic cubes – and Basil cubes too (whether you want to just buy the garlic this way or as inspiration that freezing garlic should work). I know this is a year later than when you wrote this, but hope it might be helpful!
Thanks for all you do!
Thanks Sasha! :)
Hi Angela, I have your cookbook and like to make the Crowdpleasing Tex Mex Casserole. But I have been confused by what you mean by chili powder. Do you mean the premixed chili spice mix or do you mean hot peppers? What do you use? Thanks! Melissa
Hey Melissa, I mean the premixed chili spice mix :) And in all of my recipes when this term is used. Thanks for clarifying!
Ah! Thanks Angela. That’s what I thought. I’m originally from South Africa and my mom and I always get into a debate about what recipes mean when they call for chili powder ?Thanks again for clarifying. Melissa
haha you certainly aren’t alone as I’ve been asked this a few times over the years. ;) Happy to help!
Hi Angela, Do you think your lentil walnut meatloaf can freeze well? I like it so much, so I woud like to make a triple batch to prevent any cravings ;) Thank you! :)
I like the way you think! Yes it does freeze well. :)
I have your cookbook and love it. I am going on a week long river trip with 18 other people and my husband and I are the only vegans. On past rivers trips, this hasn’t been a problem, but on this trip the permit holder doesn’t want to have to ask the other 16 people to accommodate us 2 vegans, so we are going to be on our own for all of our food. On the plus side, I don’t have to cook a breakfast lunch and dinner for 18! I am searching for 6 recipes to make ahead and freeze, preferably things you can just put in ziplock bags and dump into a pot and heat up….so soups and stews I guess. Kale and cabbage keeps well in coolers, so I could always add stuff like that. Any of your recipes jump to mind that would be easy to reheat without a microwave?? Help would be appreciated!!