Getting into your fall routine after a long, lazy summer is definitely a challenge. The only thing harder than getting your kids out of bed for those early mornings is figuring out how to get a healthy dinner on the table between soccer practice and homework.
Healthy freezer meals you premake can relieve some back-to-school stress. All you have to do is heat them and serve. Here are three great options for those busy evenings:
1. Black Bean and Squash Burritos
Burritos are a great option for healthy freezer meals since they’re easy to assemble and customize to your liking. Plus, they freeze and thaw well, and you can parcel out servings without having to defrost the entire batch. You can add any ingredients you like to your burritos, but avoid freezing sour cream, salsa, or avocado—as they can turn your burritos mushy when thawed.
To start, gather these ingredients:
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups squash, diced
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 can refried black beans
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked
Add the olive oil to a saucepan to heat it. Then sauté the squash in the oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients (except the rice and tortillas) to the pan and heat, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture cool. Smooth out a quarter cup of rice in the center of each tortilla, and then add a heaping spoonful of the mixture on top. Fold in the sides of the tortillas, and roll it up. Place burritos in an airtight, resealable freezer bag, and (you guessed it) freeze. When hungry, wrap frozen burritos in a wet paper towel and heat in the microwave for two to three minutes. For crisper burritos, finish off by browning briefly on both sides in a skillet.
2. Chicken Teriyaki Frozen Dump Dinner
“Dump Dinners” are another great option for simple but healthy freezer dinners. All you have to do is prep the ingredients in one big zip-close bag before freezing. Then, when you’re ready to eat, just thaw and dump the contents into a slow cooker. By dinnertime you’ll have a hot, healthy meal. Chicken teriyaki is a pretty universally loved dish in my house, which is why I like this recipe so much. Even my toddler can eat it since the meat ends up soft and tender after cooking in the slow cooker.
You will want to have these ingredients on hand:
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 package frozen stir fry veggies
- 1 onion, diced
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root, grated
Add all the ingredients to a gallon-size freezer bag. Make sure to eliminate any air, seal tight before freezing, and store laying flat. The night before you plan to cook it, place the bag in the fridge to thaw. Then, on the day of, dump the ingredients in your slow cooker, and cook on low for six hours or until chicken is tender enough to shred with a fork. Remove the chicken, and shred. If you want to thicken the sauce, add a slurry mixture of one tablespoon cornstarch and one-fourth cup water. Return the shredded chicken to the pot, and stir it into the sauce.
3. Turkey Curry Chili
Soups and stews make great healthy freezer meals because they freeze well, you can portion them out into separate containers for multiple dinners, and they’re simple to premake in a slow cooker. Besides, nothing says cozy, fall comfort food more than a steaming bowl of chili. You can even easily adjust the recipe to make vegetarian or vegan chili! Avoid soups that have a lot of dairy or potatoes, however, as they may change in texture when thawed.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1 can kidney beans, drained
- 1 can tomatoes, diced
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 3 tbsp. curry powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
Sauté the onion lightly. Brown the turkey, and make sure to drain the grease. Add the onion, turkey, and remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, and cook on low for six hours.
Spend just an hour or two over the weekend prepping meals, and you can have healthy freezer meal dinners ready for the entire month. You’ll have more time to spend with your family at home instead of cooking, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing they’re eating well.
What are your favorite freezer-ready meals? Share your recipe with us by tweeting @TomsofMaine.
Image source: Sher Warkentin
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