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Smart Freezing Techniques for the Cook Who Doesn't Have Time for Meals-from-Scratch Every Night

If your schedule doesn't allow for nightly meal prep, make and freeze dinner ahead. Does that sound like a plan?

Photography by: Anna Williams
Late-summer minestrone is made ahead and frozen, then served with fresh basil.

The Profile

Your schedule means that you can’t cook every weeknight -- but you don’t want to resort to takeout. You’d like to feed a group in a matter of minutes, but you’d also like small serving options, so the noncooks in the house can fix dinner for themselves when you’re not home.

The Plan

Invest a few hours in cooking one afternoon or evening, and enjoy the payoff over multiple meals (it’s like having money in the bank). Hearty soups, stews, and casseroles are all generally freezer-friendly.


• Divide soups and stews into smaller portions instead of freezing a big batch. Measure out amounts for one, two, or four servings -- whatever works best for your household.

• To fill a resealable freezer bag neatly, place the bag in a bowl or glass, cuffing the top over the edge of the vessel, then ladle in the cooled soup or stew. Don’t overfill -- it makes the bag too bulky.

• Label the container with the food name and the date frozen -- and don’t forget to add cooking instructions as necessary. Permanent markers are great for labeling bags and foil; freezer tape is better for reusable containers.

• To save space, lay bags flat in the freezer until they’re frozen. Then you can stack or stand them on end to store them.

• Fresh herbs -- like basil -- don’t freeze well, so add them just before serving dish.


And now, try this super delicious freeze-the-season meal:

Late-Summer-Vegetable Minestrone

Tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, Swiss chard, and other late-summer and fall vegetables make a substantial, vibrant minestrone that will brighten chilly evenings.

Get the Late-Summer-Vegetable Minestrone Recipe
See Our Other Freezer-Friendly Meals

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