In this article, we’re checking out lunch ideas that you can make ahead and save as a delicious freezer meal. Many people struggle with ideas for daily lunches, and might find that freezing pre-made meals is a great option. We’re going to give you all our tips on how to effectively make a healthy freezer meal, and then give you some awesome ideas to keep freezer cooking fresh (literally!).
Why Freeze Lunch?
Freezing your meal is a great lunch idea, as it allows you to make pretty delicious meals, and keep them fresh until it’s time to eat! Additionally, you can make a whole bunch of food ahead of time, and put it in a freezer bag or freezer safe container until it’s time to eat! Freezer meal recipes open up many options that you might have not considered, compared to a typical lunch sandwich or instant pot meal.
How to Prepare A Frozen Lunch
Most of the time, you don’t want to take a meal right out of the freezer and pack it for lunch. Not only will it probably not have enough time to defrost, it can often be difficult to separate frozen food and pack it into a lunch. For preparing frozen food for lunch, we recommend a few methods.
First, you can freeze the meals in individual portions. If you have small lunch containers or meal prep containers, it is often an option to freeze the food right in the container. This saves you the trouble of separating the food into individual lunch portions, which becomes a much harder task once the food is frozen solid!
Second, it is usually a good idea to thaw the food overnight in the fridge. This allows the food to thaw naturally, rather than shock it with a microwave. Additionally, frozen food might not be thawed by lunch time if you take it out of the freezer in the morning.
Third, you can reheat in the morning if you prefer. If you have allowed the food to thaw overnight, then you have the option of “reheating” it in a more natural way. For example, if you froze some pasta, you can quickly throw it on a skillet in the morning with some oil. However,if you don’t have time for this, there’s always the option to throw it in the microwave at lunch!
Frozen Lunch Ideas
Pasta is an easy option to freeze for lunch time! You can make the pesto and mix it beforehand, or even freeze the pesto and add it to fresh pasta. The choice is yours, and it really depends on how convenient you want your frozen meal to be. One option is to freeze the pesto in individual servings. When you’re ready for it, take out 1 serving and thaw it overnight. Add it to some fresh pasta and you’ve got a great lunch. Pesto pasta can even be eaten cold as a pasta salad.
Stew is an awesome option for frozen lunches. Make a big pot of stew, and freeze it in individual containers. Thaw it overnight in the fridge, and heat it up in the microwave come lunch time! Stew is a hearty meal full of protein and veggies that will be great fuel to keep you going all afternoon!
Smoothies are a lunch staple, but have you ever thought to freeze them? It works quite perfectly if you want to make your smoothies for the week all at once. The best part about freezing smoothies is that you only have to thaw them until they are cold enough to drink! You can even make yummy smoothie popsicles, but the choice is up to you. An awesome smoothie is banana, ice, vanilla yogurt, and peanut butter!
Burritos are a great lunch, but I bet you never thought to freeze them! Burritos are actually a great candidate for freezing because they are often eaten hot. This means that you can microwave them right from frozen, and you have a solid lunch ready to go! We recommend a classic bean and cheese burrito. In a tortilla, wrap up some rice, black beans, salsa, and cheddar cheese. Everything in there can be heated up in the microwave!
Try breading some chicken strips with panko bread crumbs and baking in the oven (425F for 15-20 minutes). If you make a whole bunch at once, you can freeze them and you’ll have lunches for the entire week! These are best if you thaw them overnight in the fridge, so you just have to heat them up a little bit in the microwave at lunch. You can even put them in a wrap if you don’t want to heat them up.
If you own a slow cooker, then you likely know how delicious slow-cooked, pulled meats are. On top of that, they’re a great protein option for lunch. If you have a big slow cooker, you could slow cook an entire pork shoulder, beef brisket, or whatever you like! Freeze it, and you can have lunches for the foreseeable future. A good option is to freeze it in individual portion sizes, and throw it on top of rice at lunch time. It’s a great, high-protein lunch option.
Who says burgers just have to be a dinner food? Burger patties are a great candidate for freezing! Although they need to be cooked after frozen, they can still make a great lunch. For burger patties, we recommend you keep it simple. Buy high quality ground beef, form the patties, and add salt and pepper to the outside. So simple and delicious! Simply barbecue on medium heat for roughly 4 minutes a side (until burger is no longer pink in the center) and serve up.
Quesadillas are an excellent candidate for frozen lunches. Make a whole bunch of them at once, separate with parchment paper, and freeze them in a Tupperware container. Quesadillas are great because you can load them up with protein and veggies. We recommend cheddar cheese, chicken breast, salsa, bell peppers, and red onion. The trick is to not melt the cheese before you freeze the quesadilla. You can take it out of the freezer and heat on a skillet until the cheese melts, or you can throw it in the microwave to heat straight from frozen!
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.