Preparing batches of freezer-friendly meals cuts down on the day-to-day work of feeding a family. With one trip to the store, one round of cooking, and one simple, make-ahead strategy, you can cut meal prep off your to-do list for days. We’ve got seven easy, big-batch bites that are quick to prepare and designed to last all week, and beyond.
First, here are a few tips:
1. Designate time to cook. Rather than a chore, think of big-batch cooking as a fun activity. Get the family involved, listen to music, and enjoy the time together.
2. Keep recipes simple. Stick with dishes that require a minimum of prep and ingredients to maximize your productivity in the kitchen and cut down on cleanup. One-pot meals are a great option that allow for cooking multiple recipes at the same time.
3. Portion as needed. Freeze and refrigerate leftovers as you plan to eat them later. Reheating only one individual or family-sized portion is quicker and safer than thawing an entire batch. Be sure to label leftovers with a name and date to keep things organized.
4. Let leftovers shine. To optimize your meals down the road, allow them to cool completely before refrigerating or freezing. This will help food reach a safe storage temp (40 F or below) faster, and prevent condensation, which can lead to freezer burn. Repurpose leftovers into new meals by changing up the sides and serving vessels. Turn Sunday’s Game Day black bean chili into a topper for Tuesday’s crunchy tostadas, or put a fried egg on Wednesday’s tomato lentil soup for a warming, plant-powered breakfast the next morning. Mix, match, and experiment with your family’s favorite ingredients for round 2 meals that never get old.
Get ready to go big AND stay home; these seven eat-some, save-some recipes are guaranteed to please again and again.
Big Batch Marinara with Meatball
Keep a stash of these better-for-you meatballs with marinara in the freezer to satisfy comfort food cravings anytime. Nutritious, quick-cooking oats replace the breadcrumbs in lean meatballs made with seasoned ground turkey and chicken with grated Parmesan. Serve meatballs over your favorite pasta, stuff them into subs, pile them on pizza, or go low-carb with lettuce wraps or a side of spaghetti squash.
Forget waiting for the drive-thru window, these make-ahead sammies give “fast food” new meaning. Grab-and-go egg sandwiches with bacon, spinach, and cheese baked inside a muffin pan freeze and reheat beautifully for a quick breakfast that’s made to move. For the same portable protein with fewer carbs and calories, skip the sandwich and enjoy as individual egg bites.
Wrap it in a tortilla, pile it on salad, enjoy it alone by the bowlful – there’s no wrong way to eat this fiesta of flavor. A combo of shredded chicken, black beans, and brown rice cooked hands-free in the Instant Pot is ready to satisfy with all your favorite Tex-Mex fixins’ in just half an hour, for a complete meal that keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
Combat the midafternoon slump and satisfy snack attacks with one deceptively nutritious treat made for cookie lovers. Canned chickpeas, nut butter, and oats give these chocolate chip cookie-inspired bites a punch of protein to fuel busy days.
Stick-to-your-ribs, vegan-friendly meals don’t get easier than this. Five minutes of prep is all you need for hearty, gently spiced black bean chili with corn and tomatoes that doubles as a topper for nachos, tacos, and tostadas.
An Italian restaurant favorite comes home (for a fraction of the price!) in this easy, authentic-tasting chicken Cacciatore. Value-pack chicken legs braised with peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and white wine works as both a stand-alone meal and a delicious addition to ravioli, spaghetti, or polenta.
Keep warming, plant-powered comfort on the menu year-round with this savory, veggie-loaded stew. Protein-rich lentils, zucchini, spinach, carrots, and tomatoes combine for a bowlful of color and nutrients that keeps in the freezer for up to two months.