As soon as the weather starts to get cooler we all tend to want to curl up on the couch in a warm blanket and crave those warm and hearty comfort meals. Cooler weather doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of your time indoors and in the kitchen making these meals, especially during a weeknight. We all want a meal that is quick, easy and filling at the end of the day!
As mentioned in my previous posts, my husband and I take the time to meal prep on a weekend, just a few hours and it saves us a lot of time during the week and ensures that we get the fuel we need to get through the week ahead! Freezer meals are a great addition to the week, whether it is a meal, or a portion for a meal like our bruschetta chicken topping.
When you can make a meal using ingredients that you already have at home, it is a bonus! We often stock up on meal essentials like canned beans, chick peas, lentils, diced tomatoes, veggies (fresh and frozen as well), sweet potatoes, lean ground meats (beef, chicken and turkey) and of course our Homemade Tomato Sauce which we made and jarred ahead to make multiple meals for the year ahead! When you can use these items to make multiple meals ahead and freeze them, even better!
Today, I will be sharing My TOP 3 Healthy and Homemade Freezer meals: Lentil, Tomato and Sweet Potato Soup, Veggie Chilli and Sweet Potato & Ground Turkey Sheppard’s Pie.
Soups are a great meal option to have at the beginning of the week after indulging on the weekend. We often make soups not just in the Fall/Winter but over the warmer months as well. This recipe is a great meal to have on a Meatless Monday or meatless meal any day of the week. You can make this the Sunday before, cool and keep in the fridge and warm up the next day, or you can make this ahead and freeze it for a later date. Often, we will make a double batch of soups and other meals by just doubling up the recipe.
Here is the recipe for Lentil, Tomato & Sweet Potato Soup
1 can of each: (Double up if you want to make an extra batch)
-2 to 3 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth (low sodium)
-3-4 cups of water (depending on how much liquid you would like in your soup)
-1 to 2 tbsp of olive oil
-1/2 small onion diced
-3 to 4 cloves of garlic, diced
-1 bag of mini carrots
-1 sweet potato, chopped into small cubes
-1 tsp of salt
-1 tbsp of pepper
-1 tsp each of oregano and paprika (I usually just eyeball it, but that the approximate amount, depends on your spice preference)
Chop up the garlic, onion, carrots and sweet potatoes. Olive oil in a pot, warm up the onions for 2-3 mins on low-medium heat, add in the garlic. Throw in the chopped carrots (we usually use about ½ of a small bag, the other ½ we chop up for another meal). Let that cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring here and there. Add in some of the pepper.
Add in the lentils, tomatoes, a bit of salt, oregano and paprika. Stir and let that simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add in the broth and water. Bring to a boil and add in a bit of salt and the sweet potatoes and let that cook for about 15-20 minutes. You do not want the sweet potatoes to be mush, especially if you are going to freeze the soup, so you could lessen the cook time. As long as it is simmering on low, the ingredients will warm up and slightly soften.
Remove from heat, let it cool off and store in an airtight container and pop into the freezer.
To serve, let it defrost for a few hours and pop that into a pot and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Once it is warm, you can add in some mini pasta like Macaroni or Ditali – about 1/2 a cup and let that cook according to package directions. The lentils like to burrow inside of the pasta and it adds a nice bite and texture to the soup.
Another great freezer meals is Chilli. There are many varieties of chilli and we like to change the ingredients up during the cooler months like lean turkey, beef, or chicken and for today’s recipe – Veggie Chilli. This delicious Veggie Chilli recipe is courtesy of Love and Lentils.
2 tbsp of olive oil
5 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic
4 large celery stalks, 4 large carrots (I left the celery out because of allergies and did about ½ large bag mini carrots)
3 ½ cups of diced tomatoes
2 ½ cups of red and black kidney beans
1 ½ cup corn niblets
2 packs meatless veggie ground OR sub with another can of beans
6 tsp of chilli powder
1 ½ cups chopped cilantro (optional)
2 tsp sea salt
Heat olive oil, carrots, onion, garlic.
Add in tomatoes, beans, corn, veggie ground, chilli powder, cilantro, salt, some pepper. Stir well and simmer over low heat and keep stirring occasionally.
The chilli will thicken, about 40 minutes but you can leave it longer.
You can serve for dinner that day and freeze half, we do this sometimes or you can freeze whole batch.
When we serve the chilli we make some whole grain rice and have that with leftover chilli for lunch the next day as well. You could also serve it with whole grain pitas and some sliced avocado!
Sweet Potato & Ground Turkey Sheppard’s Pie
Another hearty meal that we enjoy and freezes well is Sheppard’s Pie. We usually make this with lean ground turkey, mixed veggies and some sweet potatoes. You can totally use regular potatoes or sweet potatoes and ground beef or ground chicken as a substitute, to change it up.
We make this the night/weekend before and freeze it, or again, like the chilli, you could have half and then freeze some portion sized pieces for another weeknight dinner or lunch. We make this ahead and you could totally store it once it is layered in a foil tray/container and then pop it into the oven to bake when you are ready to serve or bake it ahead, let cool and portioned into Tupperware for multiple portioned meals.
3 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and cut into smaller portions to boil
1 package of Maple Leaf Lean Ground Turkey (or other lean meat or veggie meat option)
About 3-4 cups of frozen veggies (boiled for about 5 minutes), or 2-3 cans of veggies (mixed or individual of green beans, carrots, corn, peas, etc)
About 1 tbsp each of oregano and pepper
1 tbsp of salt for boiling water for potatoes
1 tsp of paprika for top layer of Sheppard’s Pie (optional)
Cut the potatoes the night before when you are doing your meal prep for faster cooking time, rinse and store in fridge. Bring water to a boil, add salt and potatoes. Cook for about 20-25 minutes until knife is able to go through potatoes.
At same time, boil water for the frozen veggies, cook about 5 minutes, or you can use canned and just add that into casserole dish once you are ready to assemble. Drain and set aside.
Rinse ground turkey and place some olive oil into a frying pan, cook turkey until browned. Add in some pepper and oregano. Set aside. We really like using Maple Leaf Prime Extra Lean Ground Turkey from Walmart - you get two for $10! Great for multi meal prep.
Once potatoes are cooked, rinse and mash them.
Spray casserole dish to prevent sticking. Layer turkey, then veggies, the potatoes.
Sprinkle some paprika on top. You can either cover in sealed container/tray and store in freezer or bake it then portion it for freezer storage in a sealed container. Once you are ready to bake it, bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, the last 5 minutes of cook time, remove the foil wrap and allow to continue baking for that time.
We will either have some that night or the next day and put the rest in freezer or store the entire sheppard’s pie in the freezer. Take it out of freezer, let it defrost, warm up and serve. It is delicious!
These are our TOP 3 Freezer Meals – they store well in the freezer, use similar ingredients so that will definitely help you with your meal prep and when planning your grocery list. We usually make these items around the same time so that we use up any leftover ingredients and ensure we have a healthy and hearty meal at least once a week. These meals are great to portion out for a further dinner meal or for lunch the next day!
Freezer meals are a favorite of ours and we enjoy using what we have and making a grocery list that offers multiple meal prep and meal options – soups, chillis and casseroles are great and can be made healthy yet still satisfy that craving for a hearty meal! I will be sure to share more of our favourites and would love to hear of yours as well!
What are your favourite freezer meals?