Make Ahead Winter Meals

Cold weather and shorter days can often leave you feeling tired, making it hard to prepare a home-cooked meal every day of the week. Sure, there are lots of convenience foods available for quick meals, but many are full of salt, fat, and empty calories. An easy way to get healthy warm meals for those cold winter days is to make healthy meals and freeze them! You can prepare and freeze recipes for any meal - breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Breakfast is an important meal that is often skipped due to lack of time in the morning. Make favorite breakfast foods and freeze them for a quick, easy meal. Pancakes, muffins, egg dishes, and even oatmeal can make healthy freezer meals for busy mornings. Try making this Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce recipe or these Cranberry Pumpkin muffins and pop them in the freezer for a future grab and go meal. Are you a smoothie fan? Set aside pre-cut fruits and veggies in freezer friendly food storage bags for ready to make smoothie kits!

Winter is a great time to enjoy hot soups, stews, and chili for lunches. These dishes all make great freezer meals, as their flavors and texture hold up when reheating. Make a big pot of soup, stew, or chili and freeze in small batches for single servings. Pair these items with whole wheat bread, a side salad and some fruit for a quick and easy lunch. Try this Broccoli and Potato soup, or Chicken Vegetable Soup with Kale for a hearty midday meal.

We all look forward to a home cooked dinner, but preparing a meal after a hectic day is less appealing. Family favorites such as lasagna and casseroles make easy frozen dinner options. This healthy Italian Baked Lasagna is sure to be a time saver and a crowd pleaser in your home, as is this Enchilada Casserole If your family loves tacos, why not make a batch of taco filling and freeze for a future family meal? Try adding beans and veggies to your taco filling to boost fiber and nutrients!

Freezing meals can also help you save money! Reduce food waste by using food items that you would not be able to consume before it expires in your recipes. Purchase produce in season when it is at its cheapest and freeze for later use. Foods like soup, stew, and casseroles can create multiple meals and can also help to stretch your food dollars. Putting aside and freezing small batches of these dishes allows you to save any unused food for a later date.

A few tips for freezing foods…..
  • Use freezer food storage bags or freezer safe food containers to preserve food in the freezer
  • Make sure to label and date all items to eliminate mystery foods and to know when unused food needs to be discarded
  • When thawing foods, use a microwave or thaw in the refrigerator. Never thaw foods by leaving out at room temperature because it increases the risk of food related illness.

Happy meal making!

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall