10 Summery Meals you can FREEZE.

When in doubt, eat a lasagna.

That’s my mantra for winter. Nothing gets you feeling warmer, cozier or lazier than powering through a great big square of cheesy lasagna. And lucky for me, there’s always at least one square of lasagna in the freezer in the winter.

That’s the beauty of winter. So many of the meals lend themselves to freezing. Hearty soups and casseroles like chili, stew, lasagna and macaroni and cheese.

But what about the summer meals you can freeze? Where the hell are they I ask you?  Who gave winter the right to be the king season of the freezer meals?

So I’ve created a list of 10 things you can make and freeze that can be turned into an entire summery meal you can whip together in the 10 minutes you have before soccer practice, birthday parties or dinner at the friend’s house who thinks she can cook but really can’t.

 

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1.  Garlic Scape Pesto

2.  Hamburger Patties

3.  Cooked steak (just add to lettuce for cold steak salad or tortillas

4.  Quiche or tarts

5.  Ginger Carrot Soup

6. Asparagus Soup

7. Broccoli Soup

8.  Cooked, sliced chicken so you can create …

Curried Chicken Salad

Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken with roasted peppers and Goat’s cheese on lettuce

Toasted chicken sandwiches

9.  Homemade pizza.  YES.  Either assemble and freeze, or assemble, cook and freeze.

10.  Quesadillas  (I always have a stack of these in my freezer)

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list, but they’re things I try to have in my freezer at any given time in the summer.   And honestly.  It’s hard to think of any more!  Like I said earlier winter foods are a no brainer.  Spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, frozen balls of pasta, pretty much anything that involves ground beef and/or pasta.

But because so many summer meals are made with fresh ingredients and vegetables and are generally lighter, freezer/casserole versions of them are harder to conjure up.

So I’m calling out to you to add to this list.  The only rule?  It has to be freezable and it has to be what most people would consider to be “summer time food”.

Anddddddd GO.

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50 Comments

  1. Deb says:

    I freeze black beans and pinto beans in smallish containers and Mexican rice in 1/2-cup to 1-cup servings along with shredded cheese (all separate, of course) for burritos. I either eat them together in a bowl with cheese, salsa and sour cream on top or roll up in a burrito. Sometimes, I cook an egg, put on top and have breakfast for dinner. Don’t know if it sounds summery to anyone else, but I eat this all year long, sometimes with a bit of chicken thrown in, or not. Rice freezes surprisingly well and microwaves just fine.

  2. Gwen H. says:

    Crockpot barbeque chicken. Crockpot chili.

  3. Amber says:

    hmmm, my favorite frozen meals are the ones that other people have made for me. But in a pinch? Frozen pre cooked chicken (grilled and marinated from some time when I was feeling overly productive) thrown into a wrap, als0 defrosted, with some lettuce, dressing and various veg. Easy peasy. Time for lolling.

  4. Laura says:

    When tomatoes are abundant in late summer, I make batch after batch of roasted heirloom tomato pasta sauce (olive oil, diced tomato, whole cloves of garlic, basil, red wine–or white, for that matter, either cooked in a flame-safe pan on the grill, or baked in the oven) and freeze in gallon-size ziplocs. Makes 2-3 generous portions per bag, and works as a soup starter, also. Can also be made with bell peppers. Amazing with pasta and goat cheese.

    • Leslie says:

      Absolutely making tomato-based stuff is a great idea for the freezer or for canning. But when we do it for the freezer we avoid the extra steam during what’s usually the steamiest part of summer.

      • Laura says:

        Oh, totally–that’s why I skip the ‘canning’ part and just roast them on the grill. No steaming required 🙂 I actually remember my mom and grandma, back in the 70s, heads turbaned in terry cloth wraps, slaving over heaving, foaming pots of berry preserves….in August…in New Mexico.

        • Leslie says:

          Which is why the no-sugar-necessary pectin when used for freezer jam is such a wonderful thing! Only cook it as much as you want … a minute? … only add as much sugar as you want … or any other sweetener … and as a bonus it tastes super fresh!

          When mom first moved to the farm (she was a city girl) she hadn’t heard of jam making enough to know about store-bought pectin and spent the hottest summer in our history, full-term-pregnant, making jam the way you describe. She filled the basement with jars of the stuff, and after she died there was still some left … all around horror show.

    • Debbie says:

      Laura, may I please come over for dinner?

    • Pat says:

      I plan to cook outside using the grill, a homemade rocket stove and a canner this summer. To conserve energy and time I’ll cook in quantity outside. I’ll serve appropriate quantities and preserve the extras with the canner or by freezing My plan is motivated by wanting to learn new skills, serving appropriate serving sizes, and using the fresh food as it is available.

  5. Ember says:

    I like to have a crazy grilling day and grill every meat in the freezer. Put them in freezer baggies and freeze. Its nice to have steak, pork, and chicken to whip out of the freezer and defrost into instant meals.

  6. sara says:

    Do antojitos not count?? Why aren’t they on your list!?

  7. Cynthia Jones says:

    Ricotta (or cottage) cheese & spinach triangles in filo pastry. I add onion and pine nuts and some dried chilli flakes to the filling.

    Rice paper spring rolls filled with cooked chicken, cabbage, carrot, onion, and any other veggie from the fridge, with a bit of life left in it. They grill up and brown nice and crunchy in my glass bench top oven, which I love.

    Easy Cook Turbo Oven 13 lt.

    I love this thing so much I threw out my stove and now use it to bake, roast and grill. I bought a black cast iron two burner gas cooker and mounted it on a little old kitchen table I found at a garage sale. The turbo oven even also thaws stuff and has a ‘wash’ setting.

    What else? Bacon and egg Pie. I guess some people would call it quiche. Great to eat even cold for breakfast or on a salad warmed up.

    I love Curry Puffs so if I buy some at the markets I freeze them or summer meals. I used to have a pie maker to cook up batches, but found they are annoyingly small. The pie ends up with too much pastry and not enough meat so I threw it out.

    I usually keep a bag of spinach leaves or rocket leaves in the fridge and a container of Lite Greek Yoghurt. I add a teaspoon of mango chutney to a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt and schlepp this on as a dressing. Yummo.
    Sometimes I use a bit of sweet chilli sauce. Basically Lite Greek Yoghurt is great as a dressing and a replacement for sour cream in anything, even tacos and tortillas.

    Now I want to make quesadillas. I think I saw the recipe on here months and months ago. Yikes. Search.

  8. Grammy says:

    I like to make a whole package of brown rice at once and divide it into smaller portions in ziplock freezer bags. I fire up the grill and cook chicken, pork and beef all at once, then cut up the meats into cubes about an inch in size and bag the meats into smaller portions (chicken, beef and pork separately) and freeze those.

    Then, on a summer day, take out of the freezer a bag of rice and a bag of any of the meats and put them on the countertop. Go to the garden and harvest some of whatever’s ready — onions, peppers (as many kinds as you like) tomatoes, chard, beans, whatever you’ve got — slice or chop the veggies. In a wok, with a tiny bit of oil, stir fry the meat and veggies. If the meat is nearly thawed, it goes in near the end, if it’s pretty frozen, put it in first (or thaw it in the microwave first).

    Note: I usually serve fresh tomatoes on the side instead of adding those to the stir fry, but you can do it either way. I also always add mushrooms because we love them, but leave those out if you’re Karen.

    While you stir fry, put the bag of rice, with the zip lock opened at least a couple inches, in the microwave and heat for about two minutes. It should be steamy and heated through. If it’s not done at two minutes, try another 30 seconds.

    Season the stir fry with whatever you like. Make a little sauce or just use anything you know will be tasty. Divide the rice onto serving plates and pile the stir fried meat and veggies on top. Open a beer. Enjoy.

  9. Karen says:

    Do you use a chest freezer (that requires manual defrosting)? I live in an apartment with no room for a separate freezer. I have a freezer as apart of my refrigerator. It just seems that the defrost cycle causes everything to suffer rather quickly after I freeze it, no matter how carefully I wrap/package it. Even lasagna dries out. Any ideas on how to prevent this without getting a separate freezer? My work schedule is about to go up to 80+ hours weekly and I’d live to have meals frozen and ready to go!

    • Karen says:

      I do have an upright freezer that needs to be manually defrosted. Which is a pain. And needs to be done now. My suggestion is to get a Foodsaver. I’ve had one for years. Food really does stay fresh forever when you use it. For frozen stuff that’s originally soft ( like lasagna ) you just have to freeze the lasagna first and THEN foodsaver it. That way the food doesn’t get squished when the air is sucked out of the bag. https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/how-to-use-a-foodsaver/ ~ karen!

      • Patty says:

        LOVE my food saver! You can really pack the freeze full with those bags. We freeze everything that way….stays fresh and compact and easy to defrost because of the thin packages.

  10. Su says:

    sloppy Joes – I make up a batch and freeze in small meal size containers. Seems easy to add a salad or corn on the cob and make a meal out of it….

  11. Ruth says:

    Since we live for smoothies and all things cool in our 90 degree summer heat, I can’t think of an actual meal for freezing that you haven’t already mentioned. We avoid heating up the kitchen whenever possible.

    Seriously… If I must bake, it will be done early in the morning (between 4 and 5 a.m.) or not at all. Scoot in, slap something in the oven, grab something cold and get out until it’s time to take stuff out of the oven.

    Sounds wimpy but I’m okay with that. 😀

    • Ruth says:

      Ummm…. soup, Karen? O_O

      I guess your summers are quite mild…. sounds like paradise. Alternatively… are these cold soups? Or are you just a sucker for punishment? Enquiring minds would like to know….

      • Karen says:

        Hah! This summer has been cooler than usual but normally our summers are between 90 and 100 degrees with 90 – 100% humidity! I just like soup. 🙂 ~ karen

  12. Tigersmom says:

    I’m finally getting better at this whole making dinner thing. I’ve accepted that I enjoy cooking a whole lot more when its not the dreaded last minute what can I get on the table scramble. Soooooo, I stole an idea off Pinterest (although I guess it’s not really stealing since she put it out there).

    One day a week while I am throwing together that night’s dinner, I will also cook up 4 lbs of ground beef (in 2 lb batches) with chopped onions and then let it cool a bit, divide it (1 lb per bag) into large zip locs, flatten it out and put it in the freezer for future meals. The flattening out is key to having it thaw quickly and I can even put it in a bowl of hot water or run hot water over it to speed up the thawing if need be. When I go to use it I can make a quick spaghetti or add taco seasoning for soft tacos or throw it into a casserole or make homemade sloppy joes or whatever.

    At the same time, I put 4 chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water with onions, carrots and celery and boil for twenty minutes or so until the chicken is done. I then roughly shred the chicken and portion it into 2 zip locs for freezing, again flattening them out for quick thawing later. I use the chicken for taco salads or with a sauce over pasta , etc.. The vegetables get tossed and the broth gets frozen for use as stock unless I’m up to my ears in it already.

    Recently, and thanks to you, I have discovered the wonder of roasted vegetables. I now love broccoli (instead of forcing myself to eat it because its good for me) and will eat a whole head (or whatever it is called) roasted and then topped with shredded parmesan (I like to do mine with my rasp,) sometimes while I’m making dinner. I like roasted okra, too, and roasted is pretty much the only way we do potatoes. On the same day I do this, I prep romaine for a big salad that I store in a large zip loc in the fridge and cut up tomatoes, cucmbers, etc. for throwing together quick salads. It is so much easier to have everything prepped and ready to assemble in containers in the fridge and then we can each build our own salad the way we want. I also prep fruits like berries and watermelon in separate containers in the fridge for easily adding to everything.

    I find that I mind getting dinner ready much less when I know I’m going to really enjoy what I’m making. We’ve begun a shift to cleaner eating and it turns out that I enjoy preparing real whole food as opposed to grudgingly throwing together packaged processed foods. Funny, I always thought the whole real food way would be so much more work and time, but it’s either not or the reward of eating really good meals that leave me feeling good instead of lethargic is worth it.

  13. Mel says:

    Three soups?! Soup is winter food… Not summer food friend.
    That being said, I don’t have a frozen meal for summer, I just make sure to chop up my veggies and fruit when I get them so all is ready for a quick meal.
    I do have a frozen dessert. Chocolate covered bananas with hazelnuts. Use 100% cacao, coconut oil and a bit of honey to make it healthy. Yum!

    • Karen says:

      Nope. Soups made out of local summer ingredients (like broccoli and asparagus) are summer soups. Soups made out of root vegetables are winter soups. Cold soups like beet soup is an exception to the root vegetable winter soup rule, of course because it is chilled can be substituted for a summer soup. I agree the rules are confusing, but they are the soup rules nonetheless. Why? Because SOUP RULES. ~ karen

  14. I am still eating your beet salad pretty much on a daily basis as my spinach is starting to go to seed. I ate it for breakfast the morning I discovered your post! So good. I will have to try some of your other recipes as I love “easy” after a hard day of construction! Thanks for the post Karen!

  15. kate-v says:

    I like to cook all the hot dogs in the pack and when they cool freeze them in smaller portions – the same for other meats like fried chicken, pork chops, sausage, bacon (cook the entire package – freeze strips for BLT sandwich and chop some for make bacon bits). Always have extra beans prepared from scratch so freeze the extra. If I pick the ripe veggies and there are too much for one meal I cook them all and freeze the remainder unless I eat them with eggs next morning. The juice from my lemon tree juice stays tasty when frozen so I juice a bunch and freeze it in ice cube trays. Cook (at least parboil) excess fruit and freeze in portions. Pie – one of the few things for which I will turn on my oven in the summer – make a bunch of pies and freeze them.

  16. mothership says:

    I don’t go to extra trouble cooking stuff to freeze….
    which means I just cook double-
    1/2 for now dinner, 1/2 for freeze for later.
    for summer stuff…
    a family favorite quick fried rice:
    pulled from freezer=
    *cooked rice
    *some sort o pork or beef- left over from Asian type dinner & cut small before freezing
    *frozen peas
    *frozen bell peppers

    from pantry:
    *onion sliced thin
    *sesame oil
    *rice vinegar
    *soy sauce
    *ginger (I’ve even used powdered in a pinch)

    from the garden:
    *green onion
    *snap peas/broccoli/celery/whatever else they will eat
    *eggs
    Just fry up in order of doneness you prefer.

    I also have cut up bananas, & peaches & whole berries, etc (frozen first on a cookie sheet, then bagged)
    for smoothies- or (blueberries especially) to throw in a bowl of plain yogurt for lunch.

    AND I 1/2 way oven dry lots of my cherry tomatoes (til still sorta smushy) & freeze,
    to throw a handful in salads whenever GOOD fresh ones are not available.

  17. Leslie says:

    Baked beans say summer to me. Sure they’re easy to buy in a can, but we avoid cans and cooking a huge pot of them is also easy. Then you freeze them in various portions and have them as a side for anything that can go on the grill, starting with hotdogs. Toss some frozen containers of baked beans into your camping cooler …

    For people making jam this summer … make cream cheese and jam sandwiches, arrange in a greased pan, pour french toast batter over them, freeze. To cook, defrost in the fridge overnight, bake in the morning. For a more casserole effect, use more batter; for a more sandwich effect, use less. This is great to make ahead because it give the bread time to soak up the batter. Sourdough bread is great with this.

    And since we have this perfect definition of summer soups I feel confident adding Fresh Corn Chowder to the list of soups to make & freeze in summer. I can promise you Corn Chowder goes over great ANY time of year.

    Broth. I honestly could eat soup for breakfast, lunch & dinner, even in summer. And the easiest way to do that is to take a container of broth and toss in any/all of the veggies in the fridge or garden, and heat it up and then eat it right out of your biggest glass measuring cup with a handle. It’s like salad to me — just keep your broth & veg apart until heat & eat time, and it will always be fresh & delicious. I have a bunch of Pho broth in the freezer just waiting for fresh veg garnish & noodles & slurping. And meat, if you wish. I’d love to try making noodles, then serve them under a sauce of broth & crispy veg as a light version of Pasta Primavera … that one might call for some white wine. Pour hot broth (with sherry & saffron) over thinly sliced scallops and watch them cook to perfection … it’s a great starter for a summer patio dinner party.

    Annnnnnnnd now I’m hungry.

  18. Natika says:

    I think you summer soups sound wonderful. I want to try the broccoli one soon.

    I like to eat a lot of raw veggies in summer (good for not getting dehydrated), so I’d probably have various dips in the freezer, like baba ganoush, tapenade, salsa, guacamole, hummus etc.

    Also, I’m not a vegetarian, but I’ve come to like the texture of frozen and defrosted tofu. It becomes tough if you freeze it, so you can grill it on the BBQ (or in a frying pan for that matter) with whatever sauce you like and it tastes and feels remarkably like meat that way.

    I have yet to try this, but I’ve heard that okoge (sticky Japanese rice that’s been formed into a patty and pan-fried till browned) freezes well, which means you could easily have on hand the base of a sushi pizza (a Toronto specialty). If it freezes well, then probably most makis would freeze well too, I think.

  19. Olga says:

    ummh, you can make fro-yo and ice cream – it freezes very well. Nothing better then homemade berry cobbler with some frozen ice cream on a hot summer day. Yes, I eat that sometimes instead of dinner…and breakfast. For lunch I always tend to eat something “healthy”.

    • Traci says:

      That sounds so yummy! Now I really need some cobbler… I like the fro-yo idea. I was just thinking about that earlier this week. One summer I made smoothies with yogurt, frozen fruit, and a little juice or milk then put that into ice pop tubes for frozen yogurt pops. They were yummy. I really need to do that again!

  20. Traci says:

    I think you’ve pretty much got it covered with frozen meat, rice, beans, etc. I’ll add quinoa and home-made enchiladas. For the enchiladas I just assemble the ingredients in a small pyrex rectangle storage dish and put the lid on and place in the freezer. I usually make 4 or more dishes at a time. I love the small rectangles to make homemade tv dinners (for the freezer) or bento boxes (for the fridge). Basically any leftovers work for that. To speed things up and avoid the heat of cooking, I also buy the store-prepped roasted chicken. Take all the chicken off and cut/shred it and place in baggies. I make a meal right then, put one bag in the fridge to be used in the next few days and the other bags in the freezer. I usually get 4 bags plus the instant meal from one chicken. Super bonus: my grocery store has organic chickens and I weighed the meat after removing it from the bones, the price per lb. compares to fresh boneless organic chicken breasts so I save a step and get ready-to-eat meat for the price of raw. (Yes I know a whole chicken raw would be cheaper, but I’m more likely to buy the boneless in the summer so this works out well for comparison.)

    Also, this is important. If you have never frozen grapes you need to go get some now and do it! They are seriously like little bite-size popsicles. I’ve seen the idea for ages, but only just tried it and oh my goodness, how could I have put this off so long? It’s my new favorite thing! I use green grapes and it is so refreshing!

  21. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I got nothing..except a lot of great ideas from all of you ladies now..lol..Thanks!

  22. Gail says:

    OH—and desserts, like greek yogurt with fresh strawberries popsicles!!! I make a batch of 6 and keep in the freezer for that hot day! Also, pureed green grapes and concord too with a little honey and a dab of yogurt freeze up for great icey cold popsicles. Enjoy!!

  23. Peggy says:

    Have you tried the quesadillas from the guy at the Farmer’s Market in Ancaster/Dundas? They’re really good, especially the black bean ones. I always have a few in the freezer for when I don’t feel like cooking in summer.

  24. Cynthia Jones says:

    Don’t you guys have frost-free freezers in Canada? The most annoying thing in the world is to have icy bits in the freezer.

    Manual defrost would have me wheeling it outside and hosing it out.

    The most wonderful thing in the world is to have a dry frost-free freezer, upright with drawers preferably.

  25. Jcrn says:

    Guacamole. I don’t go out of my way to keep guacamole in my freezer but sometimes we have too many avacadoes ripen at once, more than we can stuff into our mouths in a day or two. So we make the guacamole base (avocadoes, lemon juice, some chopped onion) and add the fresh sliced tomatoes after we defrost the base. We might even wait to add the onions till then. Plus cilantro for those who like it (we do).

  26. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    I freeze my over ripe bananas for chocolate banana ice cream and smoothies. Jalapeno peppers, garlic cloves and avocados also freeze up well, I get them when they’re on sale and load up.

    I’ve started freezing my ripe tomatoes in late summer as well, the skins slide right off after they’re frozen, for soups and spaghetti sauce/paste.

    Pancakes, waffles and potato pancakes freeze well…pop into the toaster or toaster oven for a quick meal/snack.

    I’m by myself and have a little freezer, so I don’t freeze meals generally. I buy roasted chicken and freeze the carcass (if the crockpot is occupied with something)….for making chicken stock.

  27. Debbie says:

    I don’t have a garden and I don’t cook ahead (though envy those that can and do). I love our local fruit and veggie market that sells local produce. I thrive on speed cooking whatever needs to be used up. It is fun to make up recipes on the spot. My biggest problem is making the same thing the same way twice. That part drives my family a bit nuts. Hubby strongly dislikes leftovers, so I am great at re-purposing food. For me, leftover fish for breakfast (with balsamic vinegar, of course – balsamic vinegar goes with nearly everything) is yummy. I have a few go-to recipes and even those change each time. There is one thing that comes out the same every time – my bread. I don’t mess with making bread whether it be summer, winter, spring or fall.

    I do freeze blueberries and strawberries in season. They are great as a snack food (frozen) or in smoothies. I freeze bananas. Also dill, parsley and basil. Umm, leftover tomatoes and red onion sauteed with wine. Add a little basil…

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