Fill your freezer with these fabulous make-ahead winter meals

When the days get shorter and colder, you’ll always be grateful for a ready-made meal in the freezer. As well as being a quick and convenient dinner option, batch cooking and freezing meals also reduces food waste, saves money and allows you to take advantage of seasonal produce when it tastes best (and, in most cases, freezing food doesn’t affect its nutritional value). Whether you’re looking for healthy freezer-friendly meals for one or the best winter meals for entertaining, these recipe ideas are easy to prepare in advance and freeze well.

Batch-ready ideas for winter soups

Soups are a versatile and healthy winter staple – and can be easily made in batches to be frozen. But when it comes to freezing, some soups defrost and reheat better than others. Avoid freezing dairy-based and potato-based soups, which can have an unpleasant consistency when reheated, as well as pasta- and grain-based soups, which can become mushy as the grains absorb too much liquid.

Some ideas for freezer-friendly soups include pea and ham; pumpkin and ginger; chicken and corn; tomato and red lentil; and chorizo and white bean. Essentially, anything that’s broth-based should freeze well. It’s a good idea to freeze your soup in individual portions and remember that you can always add pasta/noodles or a dash of cream when you’re reheating. Most soups can be safely stored frozen for three months but will taste best if eaten within a month.

Freezable dinner ideas

If you’re looking to stock your freezer with more substantial meals, these family favourites are perfect winter options: classic beef lasagne; meatloaf; chicken and vegetable pie; meatballs in tomato sauce; lamb ragu; chicken tikka masala; chili con carne; and spinach and ricotta cannelloni.

For lighter, healthy options, try a zucchini slice, vegetable quiche, lentil dahl, or a vegetable casserole. As with soups, it’s best to pre-portion your meals before you freeze. You can use freezer-safe containers with lids, aluminum foil containers, or even freezable zip-lock bags, which are useful if you’re short on space because they can be easily stacked vertically or horizontally.

Remember to label and date everything and let food cool before putting it in the freezer. In most cases, you’ll get the tastiest results by thawing the meal in the fridge overnight and then reheating it in an oven, microwave, or saucepan.

Freezer-friendly desserts for winter entertaining

If you’re entertaining friends and family over winter, the above meal ideas will have your entree and main course sorted… but what about dessert? Most cakes can be frozen for up to three months in unassembled layers – the pros recommend you dual-wrap in a layer of cling film and a layer of foil before storing in freezer containers.

Once thawed you can add any icing, topping or decorations. Apple (or any fruit) crumble, chocolate brownies and sticky date putting are other crowd-pleasers that freeze and defrost/reheat well – so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests.

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