9 Ways Your Freezer Can Make Your Holiday Prep Easier and Faster

Freeze the day!

Assortment of frozen Vegetables in fridge. Frozen food in the freezer
Photo: Qwart via Getty Images

Home cooks might assume the oven is the holiday hero appliance, but the truth is, another one can put up a good argument for first place: your freezer.

Indeed, a spacious freezer can save you for last-minute dinners during the holidays, or even breakfasts and desserts on the day of special meals. From starters to sweet endings, you can make and store up food for when you need a quick dinner, easy holiday snack, hostess meal, neighbor gift or a new baby meal.

When the pandemic started, I turned to my freezer for quick and easy meals. While there are frozen meal delivery options like Schwan's that bring foods right to your door, there is something special and warming about pulling a frozen meal out of the freezer, putting it in the oven, and having a meal on the table quickly. Busy holidays and busy week days can all be easier when you take advantage of your freezer. All you need is some great recipes and some cold freezer space.

Here, we share tips for picking the right freezer-worthy foods, and offer advice on bringing them even more flavor once they're thawed.

1. For Starters, Freeze Small

When you think about freezer meals, lasagna and casseroles might be the first things that come to mind. But if you're new to stocking your freezer or have limited space, starting small with soup starters, seasoning pods, or frozen sauces can be a great option.

You can use your freezer for meal starters, ingredients, and sides as much or as little as works for your schedule and needs. Try grilling a steak and topping it with frozen horseradish sauce!

Freeze it: Make-and-Freeze Casseroles For Time-Saving Dinners

2. Freeze Meal Components for Faster Dinners

An ooey-gooey freezer lasagna is a great way to get dinner on the table (for you or a neighbor or a table of holiday guests.) You can also freeze the makings of spaghetti with separately-frozen meatballs and spaghetti sauce. Just add cooked pasta.

An added benefit of keeping meatballs and sauce on ice is that you can make spaghetti for one or four or 14. Add some focaccia made from frozen bread dough, and you've got a satisfying meal.

3. Keep Frozen Casseroles on Hand

Many entree options freeze well for at-home meals or for bringing to a neighbor or new mom. Keep these easy recipes on hand for quick freezer options. Bonus from making and freezing yourself: You can also adjust ingredients and spice levels to fit your own taste or your meal recipient's needs.

As you use your freezer, keep a running list of freezer meals that are popular with your family or friends, and keep one on hand for last-minute meals.

Recipes to Try:

4. Stash Some Snacks

My daughter keeps Girl Scout cookies, Pop-Tarts and peanut butter cups in the freezer. While freezing existing snacks are a great option, you can also make and freeze your own snacks. From yummy yogurt drops to appetizers, take advantage of every bit of small space for snacks with big flavor. And don't forget the ultimate frozen treat — ice cream!

5. Start Your Day With Frozen Fare

Hot coffee might be the first thing on your mind in the morning. Pulling your breakfast out of the freezer can become as second nature as that first cup of a hot beverage. From breakfast burritos to pancakes, the freezer can get you going in the morning and beyond.

Recipes to Try:

6. Keep Smoothie Ingredients on Hand

There's something special about having fruit always on hand, even in the winter months. These recipes focus on bringing some of the flavor of summer fruits to your every day dinners and holiday meals. From a holiday-worthy frozen cranberry salad side to easy freezer jams, you can put the summer on ice for the cold months.

Recipes to Try:

7. Save Dessert for the Freezer

Cake in your freezer? From a butter brickle delight to a delicate pavlova, your freezer shelves can be a sweet spot in your kitchen. Whether you freeze an existing cake or make an ice cream delight, dessert can be chilly and yummy compliments of your freezer.

Recipes to Try:

8. Slide in a Few Freezer Sides

When you need a side in a hurry, you can always turn to frozen, steamable vegetables as a quick side or meal starter. You can also freeze and prepare your own veggies.

Keeping frozen vegetables and sides on hand in your freezer means you can either serve them as an entree or as a side with a frozen entree to complete the meal.

Recipes to Try:

9. Freeze It, Drink It

You may know the ice cube tray as a place for standard ice cubes, but they are also great for holding soup cubes or coffee cubes. You can also fancy up the traditional ice cube for holiday parties by adding lavender, edible flowers, or mint. A holiday party cocktail can be as dressed up as your guests when you use your freezer in a new way!

Recipes to Try:

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