The return to work can be a drag, whether it’s after a long break or just after the weekend. But the transition is made so much easier by knowing that you have a stockpile of delicious lunches in the freezer ready to go. Setting aside some time each week or fortnight to cook up a few freezer-friendly meals will save you time and stress – and what’s not to love about that!
You’ll find the below meals, and many more, under the ‘Freezable’ tab in the 12WBT Recipe Index. Soups, curries and pasta freeze very well and are easy to cook in larger portions.
Cook the meals as they are, let them cool down around an hour and then portion the meal out into the appropriate number of serves. You can use containers you already have or purchase some takeaway containers from your local store. Try to reuse your containers to be as sustainable as possible. Also, if you freeze the meals in individual portions, it will be much easier when it comes to defrosting and eating.
Of course, if the recipe includes ingredients that you need to add on top of the cooked meal, (e.g. pita bread, sour cream, avocado, salad leaves), you’ll omit these if you’re planning on freezing, and simply add them in before eating.
Most meals will keep in the freezer pretty well for around 3 months. Labelling your meals with the name of the meal and the date that it needs to be eaten by, is a good idea.
The best way to defrost a meal is to pop it in the fridge the night before you need it. Then you’ll just need to heat it up in the microwave. Easy!
So give these a try!
Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni
30 min prep time
40 min cooking
331 Cal / serve
2 Packets Frozen Spinach (500g), thawed
400g Reduced Fat Ricotta
2 Cloves Garlic (6g), crushed
100g Reduced Fat Cheddar, grated
18 Tubes Cannelloni Pasta Tubes (200g)
3 Handfuls Rocket (120g)
2 Teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar (10g)
- Combine spinach, ricotta, garlic and 40g of grated cheese in a bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Preheat oven to 180C. Pour a little passata over base of a 20cm x 30cm baking dish.
- Fill cannelloni tubes with spinach mixture, using the end of a spoon to push mixture through. Place filled tubes in baking dish.
- Pour over remaining passata and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Bake for 35 minutes.
- Sprinkle rocket with balsamic vinegar and serve with cannelloni.
Beef & Bean Chilli
15 min prep time
30 min cooking
299 Cal / serve
1g Olive Oil Spray
1 Onion (145g), chopped
2 Celery Stalk (55g), chopped
1 Red Capsicum (155g), chopped
150g Lean Beef Mince
1 X 400g cans Diced Tomato (400g)
1/2 Teaspoon Chilli Powder (1g)
60g Canned Red Kidney Beans, Drained, rinsed & drained
20g Reduced Fat Cheddar, grated
1 Tablespoon Extra Light Sour Cream (20g)
- Spray a large saucepan with oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and capsicum. Cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a plate.
- Add beef mince to pan. Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon to break up the lumps, for 4 minutes or until browned.
- Return vegetables to pan. Stir in tomatoes and chilli, and a little water if the mixture is too thick. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in beans and season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Divide chilli between bowls. Top with cheese and sour cream to serve.
Speedy Moroccan Meatballs
10 min prep time
5 min cooking
276 Cal / serve
2 X 400g cans Diced Tomato (800g)
3 Cloves Garlic (9g), crushed
2 Zucchini (202g), coarsely grated
500g Lean Beef Mince
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika (2g)
4 Teaspoons Moroccan Seasoning (8g)
160g Baby Spinach
- Place tomatoes, garlic and 1/2 cup water in a frying pan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then reduce heat slightly so the mixture simmers.
- Meanwhile, squeeze excess moisture from zucchini and combine with mince, paprika and seasoning. Mix well. Roll mixture into small walnut-sized balls and drop into tomato sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes or until cooked through, turning occasionally. Add spinach and stir through to wilt.
- Divide between serving bowls, season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Penang Chicken Curry
15 min prep time
10 min cooking
296 Cal / serve
1 Tablespoon Red Curry Paste (20g)
800g Lean Chicken Breast, cut into strips
1 X 375ml can Light Evaporated Milk (375g)
1 Teaspoon Coconut Essence (5g)
*Note – you can sub in 375ml can of Light Coconut Milk, instead of the Evaporated Milk and Coconut Essence*
2 Teaspoons Fish Sauce (10g)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (30g)
2 Tablespoons Peanut Butter, No Added Sugar Or Salt (40g)
250g Broccoli, cut into florets
150g Snow Peas
- Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir to coat in the paste.
- Stir the coconut essence into the evaporated milk. Then add the ‘coconut milk’ to pan and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes (don’t let the mixture boil).
- Add the fish sauce, sugar and peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (don’t allow the sauce to boil or it will separate).
- Meanwhile, cook the broccoli and snow peas in steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water for 2-3 minutes or until tender crisp.
- Divide the chicken, sauce and vegetables among serving plates.
Roast Pumpkin & Garlic Soup
25 min prep time
90 min cooking
293 Cal / serve
1 Pumpkin (1800g), halved then chopped into large chunks
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (20g)
2 Onion (178g), chopped
2 Potato (246g), peeled & chopped
1 Leek (83g), chopped
10 Cloves Garlic (30g)
6 Cups Liquid Vegetable Stock (1500g)
8 Small Grainy Bread Roll (400g)
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Place the pumpkin on a baking tray. Spray with olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the onion, potato, leek and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden.
- Add half the stock and the pumpkin. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes then set aside to cool slightly.
- Use a stick mixer to process until smooth. Stir in the remaining stock to the desired thickness.
- Stir over medium heat until heated through. Season with pepper.
- Divide among serving bowls and enjoy with the bread rolls.