As 2018 picks up the pace, it’s great to have a few make-ahead meals up your sleeve that will feed the family for more than a day. Batch cooking takes some prep but is worth the effort. Whether it gives you options later in the week, or if it’s something you can defrost a week later, these freezer-friendly meals promise to make life easier for everyone. Scroll down to see our favorites
1. Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
A slow cooked chili dish is perfect for feeding the family, and this chicken version is a real crowd pleaser. Head to Weelicious for the recipe plus tips on prepping and freezing it all in a zipper bag so when you're ready to cook, you just place it right into the Crock Pot and dinner takes care of itself.
The ultimate Italian comfort food, meatballs can easily be frozen in batches and even better, they defrost quickly. This recipe from our archives uses lean ground turkey. Reheat in a tomato sauce or create mini sliders like these, that are perfect for little hands.
3. Roast Chicken
A cooked chicken can be served a dozen different ways and this post from our archives shares at least four of them including a quick-cook gluten-free chicken stew.
4. Broiled Shish Kabobs
Kebobs aren't exclusively a summer meal—the skewers take barely any time to prep and can be put in the oven to broil instead of grilled on the BBQ. Leftovers can be added to salads and wraps or reheated and served with rice. Boulder Locavore has the perfect recipe.
5. Pulled Pork
Shredded pork or carnitas is a dinnertime favorite, and this recipe for pulled pork shepherds pie sneaks lots of veggies into the mix as well. Freeze leftover pork or serve during the week with rice or in a bun.
6. Chicken Tortilla Soup
Use that leftover chicken or turkey to make this irresistible tortilla soup. This recipe from Averie Cooks can be rustled up in 30 minutes and uses frozen corn and canned black beans and tomatoes. Make a batch for the freezer and defrost when you're in need of something hearty and comforting.
7. Miso Molasses Baked Beans
What could be tastier and more comforting than baked beans on toast? This recipe from The First Mess is super simple; just boil the beans, whisk in the flavor, bake, and eat. It's a winter food that will keep kids happy all week long.
8. Green Goddess Soup
Don't wait for St. Patrick's day to celebrate all things green! This soup from The View From Great Island does double duty as a sauce for pasta or risotto verde. Blend into mac 'n' cheese, or whizz up this unique pesto from Pinch of Yum for a versatile green sauce that works as a dip, sauce, and sandwich filler.
9. Quick Beef Bolognese
A classic bolognese with onion, carrot, celery and ground beef is a recipe that freezes well. Always better the next day, this version from My Little Larder has been known to be eaten for breakfast! Most recipes have bolognese sauce simmering for hours, but this one can be prepped and ready in 60 minutes—it's also dairy free.
10. Fritatta Feast
This savory cake can be served hot or cold and is open to endless variations. The fancy-sounding frittata is actually a quick and easy meal and a healthy addition to any lunchbox. Pile in some grated cheese, cubed deli meats, roasted veg or pesto. Bloggers Maria and Josh of Two Peas & Their Pod have a sweet potato, kale and goat cheese version packed with protein. You can also bake frittata in a muffin tray for bite-sized individual portions.
11. Sausages by the Dozen
A dozen sausages can go a long way to keeping the kids' lunch boxes full for a week. Eat with mash for dinner then chop up leftovers to put with rice, pasta, in soup or as a pizza topping. If you can carve out extra time at the weekend and have a stock of store-bought puff pastry, cook up a batch of these delicious sausage rolls. This recipe from Karista’s Kitchen is adapted from a British version, where they are a staple in kids' lunch boxes—the perfect finger food for little hands.
12. Lentil Chili
This chunky lentil chili is an easy veggie dinner with lots of superfoods and protein; kale, pumpkin and black beans. Leftovers have just as much flavor. Feed Me Phoebe has the slow cooker recipe as well as stovetop instructions.
13. Freezer Pasta
More than just a recipe, this is a life hack—clear out and make space in the freezer so you can fill it with lunchbox goodies. Who knew a pasta salad could be frozen? Christine Pittman did—she's the genius behind Cook the Story and has this post to tell you how. Turns out plenty of other lunchbox staples can go straight from freezer to lunchbox—sandwiches, yogurt, berries, even halves of oranges wrapped in cling wrap.
Do you batch-prep recipes and have them ready to go in the freezer? Let us know in the comments below.