These vegetarian freezer meals will take the stress out of busy seasons of life by giving you a make ahead meal plan to stock your freezer with favorites!
My whole pregnancy with Wilder I was eagerly anticipating having some freezer meals for when she arrived. I love cooking with fresh food, but I knew it would be difficult not only with a newborn but also with three other young kids running around and making demands on my time and energy.
I decided not to start freezer meal cooking until I was in the third trimester so things wouldn’t be sitting around in the freezer so long (and so I wouldn’t eat them before the baby arrived!). Once I compiled all the things I wanted to make I realized I was going to need some sort of schedule to spread it out over the weeks instead of saving it all for those last few uncomfortable days.
My philosophy on freezer meal cooking is to make double of what I’m already making for dinner and stash the extra in the freezer. I find this much easier than doing a full day of cooking multiple kinds of meals.
I decided I could financially and physically handle doubling two meals a week with one or two treats or snacks thrown in there as well. Breastfeeding makes me SO hungry, and my kids are always asking for snacks, so I knew I would be happy to have these things on hand when the time came.
As the due date approached I tried to include the things I could live without if the baby came early (oh, to hope and dream!) or I didn’t have the energy to get it done (it happened). I was also trying to plan ahead for easy Thanksgiving and Christmas foods and treats that I knew I would want to have around but may not have time to complete with a newborn.
The muffins were probably the biggest winner for me. I could set a few out the night before, the kids would find them in the morning, and I would get a few extra hours in bed without having to make breakfast.
Banana bread is also a great snack to have in the freezer (and doubles as breakfast when spread with peanut butter). The black bean patties were great for a quick individual lunch. I would thaw them out and wrap them in a tortilla with some cheese and salsa.
This make ahead meal schedule will give you six breakfasts, thirteen main dishes, seven somewhat time consuming essentials that can be quickly worked into meals, three snacks, and five desserts. I’ve included links to the recipes I use, although there may be a few tweaks here or there for taste or better freezing.
For anything baked in a 9×13 pan I placed it in a disposable aluminum pan (<– affiliate link), wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. You can write the name of the dish, date, and baking instructions on the top of the aluminum foil in permanent marker.
Keep in mind that large casseroles may need longer in the oven than the recipe calls for if your refrigerator was too cold for it to thaw completely overnight (consider trying to move them from freezer to fridge 36 hours before baking).
Loaves of quick bread I find freeze best if you allow it to fully cool before slicing, then wrap the entire loaf in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag. Write the name and date on the outside of the bag, then when you’re ready to eat, just break off the number of slices you want and microwave for 30-60 seconds to thaw.
Vegetarian Freezer Meal Freeze Ahead Meal Plan:
Stacked Veggie Enchiladas (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Baked Ziti (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Zucchini Muffins (place in a freezer bag and allow to thaw at room temperature or in the microwave)
Vegan Zucchini Brownies (I enjoy eating these straight from the freezer!)
Lentil Loaf (freeze after baking, microwave individual portions to thaw)
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Pistachio Pesto (freeze in small portions, microwave for 30 seconds to thaw)
Pecan Pie Bars (cut into portions, place in a freezer bag, and let sit at room temp a few minutes to thaw)
Tomato Soup (leave out cream and add in the final minutes of reheating)
Butternut Squash Sauce (store in a plastic freezer bag, transfer to a microwave safe bowl and microwave until thawed)
Pizza Dough (I double this and use half white whole wheat flour, freeze balls of dough in individual freezer bags, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and let rise at room temperature 1-2 hours before using)
Apple Spice Muffins (place in a freezer bag and allow to thaw at room temperature or in the microwave)
Italian Quinoa Casserole (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Penne alla vecchia Bettola sauce (freeze prior to the final step of adding cream, seasoning, and cheese, do this in the final minutes of reheating)
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (place in a freezer bag and allow to thaw at room temperature or in the microwave)
Southwest Baked Egg Rolls (freeze fully baked, bake again from frozen until hot)
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (place in a freezer bag and allow to thaw at room temperature or in the microwave)
Cheese Enchiladas (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Eggplant Parmesan (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Cinnamon Rolls (freeze prior to final rise and bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, bake, and frost)
Calzones (Bake prior to freezing, cut into individual portions, thaw in the microwave or in the refrigerator overnight and bake again until hot and crisp)
Black Bean Patties (freeze fully baked, thaw in the microwave and bake or broil until as crisp as you like)
Waffles (I left out the sausage, freeze fully baked, place frozen waffles in the toaster, top with egg, salsa, and arugula)
Cheesy Manicotti (assemble and freeze prior to baking)
Caramelized Onions (freeze in small portions unless you plan to use them all at once)
Pancakes (freeze fully baked, thaw in the microwave)
Taquitos (freeze fully baked, bake frozen taquitos again until hot and crispy)
Spinach Pesto (freeze in small portions, microwave to thaw)
Granola Bars (cut into individual portions and place in a freezer bag. They will thaw quickly at room temperature
Larabars (cut into individual portions and freeze, or refrigerate if they’ll be eaten in a week or so. I definitely ate them all before the baby came!)
Cornbread (bake, cut, and freeze in the pan so you can take out individual servings or let the whole thing thaw at room temperature, microwave to warm)
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (place in a freezer bag and try not to eat too quickly!)