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14 Make-Ahead Freezer Meals for Nights When You Just Can’t

On chilly winter nights, I often find myself craving rich stews and creamy casseroles, and I’m guessing many of you feel the same. The thing is, I rarely have time to actually make these kinds of dinners, which are far more involved than the throw-it-together pastas, salads and grain bowls I crave during warmer months. The solution? Make-ahead freezer meals that I can reheat and eat during the week.

You can’t throw any old meal in the freezer, though. The best candidates are casseroles, soups and stews, which all tend to have enough liquid that they’ll freeze in a solid block, then defrost in a uniform enough way that no ingredient will get overcooked or dry while another is still freezer-cold.

The following tasty recipes run the gamut from vegan chilies and stews to meaty, cheese-filled casseroles. All 13 of these make-ahead freezer meals will keep for months in your freezer and can be defrosted in a pot on the stove (the stews), or in the oven (the casseroles). Most recipes yield several servings, but if you want to scale them up, that’s a great way to make sure you have tons of already cooked meals in your freezer for nights when cooking just seems like too much.

Fiery Pinto Bean Soup

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Image: The Chutney Life.

This recipe checks all of the boxes. Pantry friendly? Yup. Easily freezes? You betcha. Easy to make AND packed with tons of flavor? Yes and yes.

Get the recipe from The Chutney Life

Vegan bean chili

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Image: Oh She Glows.

This easy vegan bean chili comes together in about 30 minutes. Get a big pot, make a big batch and freeze leftovers for quick veggie-packed dinners.

Get the recipe from Oh She Glows.

Garden vegetable lasagna

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Image: Tastes Lovely.

This spinach-packed garden vegetable lasagna can be cooked, frozen and reheated all in the same dish.

Get the recipe from Tastes Lovely.

Creamy chicken, quinoa & broccoli casserole

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Image: Pinch of Yum. Pinch of Yum.

Need something nutrient-packed and delicious? This chicken, quinoa and broccoli casserole is satisfying and extra tasty thanks to a bit of bacon and some Gruyère cheese.

Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Shrimp & sausage stew

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Image: Joe’s Healthy Meals.

Featuring two flavorful proteins, this shrimp and sausage stew is a meal you’ll be thankful to have in your freezer when the craving for a warm, hearty dinner strikes.

Get the recipe from Joe’s Healthy Meals.

Healthy Mexican casserole with roasted corn & peppers

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Image: Pinch of Yum.

No energy for taco night? This Mexican casserole with roasted corn and peppers hits all the same sweet spots, and all you have to do is take it out of the freezer and bake it up.

Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.

One-pot chicken stew

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Image: Little Broken.

This one-pot chicken stew is great in the winter, but no worries if you freeze the leftovers and don’t eat them until spring.

Get the recipe from Little Broken.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

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Image: Not Enough Cinnamon.

This chicken Alfredo lasagna is lower-calorie than the original — it’s got less cream and cheese and lots of veggies instead of noodles — but it’s still a creamy, comforting dinner option.

Get the recipe from Not Enough Cinnamon.

Slow cooker root vegetable stew

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Image: Gimme Some Oven.

Make a batch of this root vegetable stew while the produce is in season, then freeze individual servings, and you’ll have hearty lunch or dinner options around all year.

Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.

Dump-&-bake chicken Parm casserole

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Image: The Seasoned Mom.

Everyone loves chicken Parmesan, but nobody loves breading and frying individual pieces of pounded chicken breast. This dump-and-bake chicken Parm casserole cuts out all the tricky steps and freezes perfectly.

Get the recipe from The Seasoned Mom.

Easy spinach casserole with artichokes & quinoa

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Image: Redefined Mom.

Love spinach-artichoke dip? You’ll love this easy spinach casserole, which tastes similar but counts as a legit balanced meal.

Get the recipe from Redefined Mom.

Beef chili

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Image: Bakerita.

When it comes to easy, tasty, crowd-pleasing, make-ahead meals, nothing beats classic beef chili.

Get the recipe from Bakerita.

Seafood casserole

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Image: Taste of Home.

Fish is delicate and often doesn’t freeze well, but this creamy, flavorful seafood casserole will last for months in your freezer. Just make sure it isn’t in the oven for too long when you reheat it, or it’ll dry out.

Get the recipe from Taste of Home.

Easy chicken & dumplings

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Image: Five Heart Home.

Chicken stew is great and all, but everything is better with dense, starchy dumplings cooked right in. This chicken and dumplings recipe is simple and won’t get mealy in the freezer.

Get the recipe from Five Heart Home.

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Image: Pinch of Yum. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

A version of this story was originally published January 2019. 

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