Here's a scenario: Your day absolutely blew. You want to treat yourself to some take-out, but it's rent week and yikes, the bank account is looking slim. There's food in the fridge, but the thought of prepping and then cooking and then cleaning isn't exactly the "relaxing" night of sinking into the couch that you had in mind. But wait! You look in the freezer, and there's a tray of food you can throw in the oven or reheat on the stove (and OK, fine, that'll dirty a dish or two, but we're not judging you for letting 'em sit in the sink overnight).
The night is saved, and who's there to thank but Past You, who so kindly planned ahead and saved your sad ass from spiraling?
Take a day to do some serious cooking, and this can be you! As many of us learn as kids, the freezer is where the fun stuff lives, like ice cream, chicken nuggets, pizza, pizza bagels, and pizza rolls. While, sure, we still keep some cartons and bags of those snacks around just in case, we've also learned that the freezer is the place for a stockpile of big batch, home-cooked treats that will impress Future You with your foresight.
From stews to baked pastas to crispy fritters, here's some inspiration for what to fill your freezer with—other than chicken nuggets, of course.
Easy Okra Stew Recipe
Stews and the freezer are a perfect match. This vegetable-filled version will cure what ails you, whether it's an illness, a gnarly hangover, or just a lousy day.
Easy Red Chili Recipe
Chili is another freezer classic, and we love this beef version with no beans for filler. Just don't forget to make a warm, fresh batch of rice when you're ready to eat.
Easy Beef Stew Recipe
Once you've browned your beef and mushrooms, this beef stew recipe is pretty hands-off, which makes it even easier to double the batch and ensure you'll have plenty for now and plenty for later.
Goulash and Potato Dumplings Recipe
If you thought classic beef stew was peak comfort food, then get ready to have your mind blown: Goulash is like the best beef stew, but with mashed potato dumplings to make it even better.
Baked Bolognese Recipe
Baked pasta is another classic freezer food. Like the perfect midpoint between spaghetti Bolognese and stuffed shells, this recipe just may be the king of all baked pastas.
Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna Recipe
You're never going to look in the freezer, see a tray of homemade spinach and mushroom lasagna, and think, "Ugh, homemade lasagna!" Make a batch for yourself, and then another for a friend in need.
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Recipe
Stick everything but the noodles in the freezer. When you're ready to eat, boil a batch of noodles, and this classic Taiwanese stew is as instant as a pack of ramen.
Kare Kare Recipe (Filipino Oxtail and Peanut Butter Stew)
Not gonna lie; it takes a while to get the oxtails and tripe tender in this Filipino peanut stew, so make the most of your efforts by saving half of it for the future.
Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
It might be called "wedding soup," but keep some in the freezer and you can enjoy it any time.
Pork Cottage Pie Recipe
Whether you call it cottage pie or shepherd's pie, everything's better when it's topped with mashed potatoes, just like a big, warm, buttery weighted blanket.
Chile Con Carne Colorado-Style Burritos Recipe
Oh, to be a beef-filled burrito snugly covered in a blanket of warm cheese. If you can't join 'em, you might as well make them—the result is almost as comforting.
Potato Gnocchi with Sausage and Kale Recipe
Spaghetti Pie Recipe
The move with this baked pasta recipe is to slice the spaghetti pie before putting it in the freezer. That way, you can reheat just one slice at a time.
Easy Zucchini Pesto Recipe
It's way too easy to end up with too much basil and zucchini, especially in the summer. Turn them into an easy pesto when they're at their peak and freeze it, and you'll enjoy summer's bounty for much longer.
Garlic Scape and Radish Focaccia Recipe
Focaccia's one of the easiest breads you can make at home, and if you can't finish the whole tray when it's warm and fresh, save it sliced in the freezer for all your future sandwiches.
Jamaican Beef Patty Recipe
Yeah, you could keep a box of store-bought patties, but then you'd miss the extremely fulfilling feeling of heating up a perfect little hand pie that you made yourself.
Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Stromboli Recipe
Why bake a blah pre-made pizza when you can bake off a homemade stromboli stuffed with all your favorite things? We love spicy sausage and broccoli rabe, but you do you.
Chickpea Fritters Recipe
You might think that fried things taste best if served immediately, but if you fry and then freeze these chickpea fritters, they'll crisp up again when reheated in a pan full of oil or in a hot oven.
Lumpiang Prito (Vegetarian Spring Rolls) Recipe
Making spring rolls like Filipino lumpia is a pretty involved process, and unless you're feeding a crowd, you're going to end up with more than you need. Don't fry the extras—save them in the freezer, then cook them to order to fill your fried food cravings.
Classic Samosa Recipe
Your favorite part of your Indian takeout order is doable at home, too. Make a big batch of samosas, and they'll get you through any time you need something crispy, golden, and full of potatoes.
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