Stock Your Freezer with Easy Dinner-Starters

Created January 10, 2017
With a stash of make-ahead meal-starters in your freezer, you'll never be stuck wondering "what should I make for dinner?" again. MORE+ LESS-


When time is tight and your family is hungry, phoning for pizza or hitting a drive-through is a practically irresistible convenience. Instead of spending money on food that isn't that good (much less good for you), try stocking your freezer with a big batch of easy meal-starters. You’ll save time, money and effort on busy nights when your family is hungry and you’re starved for time (and the takeout menu drawer is calling your name). Prep a triple-batch all at once (during a fix-and-freeze meal party, perhaps?) or squirrel away extra prepared protein when meat is on sale. No matter your method, smart stocking of your freezer will help you get dinner done right.


Make-Ahead Shredded Chicken: Get a head start on your favorite chicken recipes by baking this pulled chicken ahead of time and freezing in two-cup portions. (Learn how it’s done with this step-by-step how-to.)


Chicken Salad Club Sandwich Stackers: The Betty Crocker Kitchenscame up with a fun way to use this make-ahead chicken: a triple-stacked club sandwich made with chicken salad and garnished with teeny-tiny pickles. Tip: While you’re frying up bacon for the sandwiches, why don’t you pop some in your freezer? Simply wrap individual portions in paper towels; then place the towel-wrapped portions into a zip-top freezer bag. You can freeze the cooked bacon—perfect for adding to sandwiches and burgers, or for sprinkling on salads and vegetables—for up to six weeks.



Make-Ahead Ground Beef: Enjoy an easy shortcut to your favorite ground beef recipes with a back-up stash of this pre-cooked meat mixture in your freezer. Two cups equals one pound of fresh ground beef, cooked, so substitutions are super simple. (Learn how to prepare, substitute and store cooked ground beef safely with our step-by-step how-to.)


Sassy Sloppy Joes: One of those great American ground beef recipes, sloppy Joes are the ultimate comfort food, and this recipe is a classic your family is sure to love.



Make-Ahead Mexican Ground Beef: Keep containers (or freezer-safe storage bags) of this seasoned beef on hand as a starter for your favorite recipes that call for ground beef with taco seasoning. (This helpful how-to shows you how to prepare this seasoned beef for the freezer.)


Freeze-Ahead Tamale Pies: The Betty Crocker Kitchens knocked it out of the park with these adorable individual tamale pies. The best part about these cuties is that they can go directly from the freezer to the oven, making them perfect for those nights when a quick, no-fuss meal is in order.



Make-Ahead Seasoned Ground Beef and Sausage: Just three ingredients make this meat mixture extra flavorful. Store some in the freezer for use in your favorite recipes calling for a combination of ground beef and pork sausage. (For step-by-step directions on how to prepare and substitute this duo, check out this handy how-to.)


Make-Ahead Meat-Lover’s Lasagna Roll-Ups: Make a large batch of these meaty lasagna rolls and freeze individually or by the pan-full for an Italian dinner that’s ready in a snap. Tip: Make a double batch of these roll-ups; one pan to enjoy now, the other for later.



Italian Square Meatballs: Mess-free meatballs? These are as close as you’re going get. Just pat the meat mixture in a pan, bake, and they're ready in 35 minutes. (Check out the full how-to here!) These meatballs are so easy that baking up an extra batch for the freezer is a no-brainer.


Italian Meatball Hoagie Braids: Homemade handheld meatball pockets come together in a flash when you’ve got Italian Square Meatballs and Pillsbury Crescents on hand.