It's always nice to have a head-start, especially when time is tight and your family asks, "What's for dinner?" These recipes can be made ahead and frozen for last-minute or pre-planned dinners.
Taco-Filled Pasta Shells
I've been stuffing pasta shells with different fillings for years. My family enjoys Taco-Filled Pasta Shells the most. The frozen shells are so convenient, because you can take out only the number you need for a single-serving lunch or family dinner. Just add zippy taco sauce and bake.
—Marge Hodel, Roanoke, Illinois
This light, fluffy egg casserole, sprinkled with tasty bacon, retains its fresh flavor after freezing. While Breakfast Bake is obviously great for breakfast, it's an easy-to-reheat meal for lunch or dinner, too. The recipe makes two casseroles, so you can serve one right away and freeze the second one for later.
—Kim Weaver, Olathe, Kansas
I developed these "fun buns" about 20 years ago when our four children were preteens. Once they started high school, I kept Make-Ahead Sandwiches in the freezer for quick suppers when after-school activities kept them from eating with the rest of the family.
—Marie Hass, Madison, Wisconsin
Meat Loaf Miniatures
I do not usually like meat loaf, but my family and I can't get enough of Meat Loaf Miniatures topped with a sweet ketchup sauce. They are the perfect portion size. This recipe requires no chopping, so it's quick and simple to make a double batch for extras another day. They're great to give to new moms, too.
—Joyce Wegmann, Burlington, Iowa
Pasta Crab Casserole
Pasta Crab Casserole is an easy dish to freeze ahead for company. A yummy combination of spiral pasta, crab and sauteed veggies is coated with a buttery sauce, then covered with cheddar cheese. All that's needed to complete the meal is a warm garlic bread and a tossed green salad.
—Georgia Mountain, Tampa, Florida
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Freezer Meal Tips
- When I have a little free time, I peel a bag of onions, chop some of them in the food processor and freeze them in freezer bags in the amounts called for in some of my favorite recipes. I also freeze some whole for soups and stews.
—Alice K., Warren, Michigan
- When I need to brown ground beef with celery, onions and peppers for a casserole or sauce, I always make extra. I freeze the leftover mixture in 3/4- to 1-pound packages, so I always have the basic ingredients for spaghetti sauce or another casserole ready to go at a moment's notice.
—Lee D., Lansing, Michigan
- I always fry two pounds or more of bacon at a time, drain the slices well, then freeze them in freezer bags. The slices don't stick together, so it's easy to remove a few from the bag for a sandwich or to crumble small amounts for a recipe.
—Shirley M., Goldsboro, North Carolina
- When I buy ground beef for burgers, I place the amount I'll need for a meal in heavy-duty resealable bags. Then I flatten the bags and press out the air. The packages stack well in the freezer to conserve space, and they defrost faster, too. This storage method also works with sandwich-style steaks.
—Patricia B., Smyrna, Georgia
- I freeze uncooked chicken and meats in different marinades. I transfer the meat to the refrigerator a day or two before cooking to let it absorb the marinade as it thaws. So we always have seasoned meats available.
—Christi G., Tulsa, Oklahoma
- When making taco salad, I double the amount of ground beef and use two packages of seasoning mix. I use half of the cooked seasoned meat to make our dinner and freeze the rest so we can enjoy a quick taco salad another night.
—Elizabeth S., Chebanse, Illinois
- My daughter and I love making individual mini pizzas with English muffins, pasta sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. When I buy a jar of sauce, I place 1 tablespoon in each compartment of an ice cube tray and freeze. Then I pop them out and put them in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags in the freezer until we make our pizzas again.
—June A., Americus, Georgia