Need some budget-friendly make ahead freezer meals? These 10 healthy dinner ideas are easy to make and freeze for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
You can call it freezer cooking, meal prepping, or simply being smart in the kitchen. The truth is when you’re trying to save money and eat healthy, making food ahead of time will save your bacon.
When you have a few easy meals in the freezer, you don’t have to:
- rely on expensive convenience food
- hit the drive-thru on your way home because you have no idea what’s for dinner
- stop by the store real quick to pick up dinner – and end up buying a whole car’s worth of food because you’re hungry.
You don’t have to make freezer meals into an elaborate day-long event. Here are 10 easy, healthy, budget-friendly meals you can freeze or make ahead of time.
What are Some Good Meals to Freeze?
Of course, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite recipes to freeze, but when you see things like our favorite lentil soup or our marinated chicken breast, think about your family’s favorite soup and chicken marinade, and try those!
What Dinners Can I Make and Freeze?
There are several kinds of ways to make and freeze dinners. You can cook the meal completely ahead of time and then freeze it. When it’s time to eat it, all you need to do is thaw and reheat.
The other way you can make a freeze meals is to simply prepare the raw elements ahead of time so the meal prep is simple and minimal – think, thaw it overnight, then toss it into the instant pot or slow cooker.
Instant Pot and slow cooker meals are ideal freezer meals. If your family doesn’t love one-pot meals, think about meals that have certain elements that take a long time to cook or that need the meat to thaw, but it keeps well in the freezer once it’s cooked (think tacos with homemade beans and ground meat, spaghetti and meatballs, or baked chicken and mashed potatoes.)
What Freezer Meals Can I Make for $5?
You can make all of the meals I’m going to show you for under $5. Of course this depends on where you live and what exactly you buy (for example, organic meat vs. conventional). But every single meal here is budget-friendly and simple to make.
In addition to the list below, think about your own budget-friendly meals that you already make and how you could convert them to the freezer.
What Foods do not Freeze Well?
Many foods freeze well.
Many do not.
Here’s a quick list of some of the most common mistakenly frozen foods. For a more complete list of what not to freeze, go here.
- Pasta (it gets mushy; don’t cook them all the way through if you want to freeze them)
- Rice (same)
- Raw potatoes
9. Breakfast for Dinner
Sure, you can make some breakfasts for the freezer and use them in the mornings, but don't forget that breakfast for dinner is a lot of fun (and budget-friendly!) too.
These breakfasts all freeze well:
10. Marinated Chicken
This is one of the easiest ways to elevate plain chicken (thighs or breasts) for easy, flavorful meals. Simple place 2-4 pieces of chicken into a freezer bag, drizzle it with your favorite marinade (1-2 tbsp per piece of chicken), then seal the bag and pop it into the freezer.
For easy marinades, try Greek dressing or salsa!
When you're ready to cook it, place them in the crockpot or instant pot and follow your appliance's instructions for frozen chicken breast/thighs.
Freezer cooking and meal prepping can save you a lot of money – especially if you are trying to eat healthy on a budget! Try these recipes, tweak your family favorites, and start saving money, eating healthy, and filling your freezer with easy, budget-friendly dinners.