Some for now, some for later! 23 recipes that make the most of your grocery run
Dumplings, curry, lasagna and other low-ingredient dishes that freeze really well
Your pantry may be stocked right now, but to fully minimize your grocery runs, it's time to focus on your freezer too. Your first inclination may be to fill it with things like bags of frozen peas or blocks of spinach, but this may not be the best use of your limited time and resources.
To make the most of your shopping trip, choose recipes you can double and freeze, serving one batch now and storing the second for later, so you can make the most of everything you buy — without really burning through it at the same time.
If you plan and shop with this intention, you'll streamline your grocery list and spend less time roaming the aisles. And after a little more washing and prepping, cooking a larger batch of food takes essentially the same amount of time as it takes to cook the smaller yield.
To help, we've gathered our best low-ingredient, freezable recipes just for this purpose. We've grouped them into categories, so pick the kinds of meals you like most and read our tips for making and freezing them properly. They'll help get you cooking, storing, and shopping smarter, at a time when you need to be doing this most.
Set aside an afternoon to make a big batch of dumplings — you can get a head start by making the dough and filling the night before. If dough-making isn't your thing, store-bought dumpling wrappers are totally acceptable. To prevent the dumplings from sticking together when you freeze them, freeze them first in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer the frozen dumplings to a container or freezer bag before storing in the freezer.
With a curry in the freezer, all you've got to do is cook a side of rice and dinner's ready. If the curry has potatoes in it, consider cooking them on the side and leaving them out of the batch you are going to freeze, as potatoes tend to get waterlogged and mushy in the freezer if they aren't protected by fat.
The same potato advice applies to stews as it does for curries. Sweet potatoes tend to survive a freeze, but white potatoes are susceptible to an unwanted change in texture, so your best bet is to cook the stew without them and cook a batch on the side to throw in at the last minute when you're ready to serve it. Save the potato water for thinning out the stew when you're re-heating it — the starch from the potatoes will give it a better texture.
This make ahead casserole can be scaled to fit your needs; if you're cooking for a smaller crowd, consider baking and freezing lasagna in loaf pan-sized portions. Cook the lasagna fully and broil the top, so that all you need to do is thaw your frozen lasagna in the fridge overnight and reheat it. You can reheat it from frozen too, it'll just take longer.
If you're looking for a quick dish to throw together, enchiladas may be your ticket. The meat version below uses already-cooked chicken, so pick up a large rotisserie chicken (or two if they're small), shred the meat up to save yourself time.
Since the cashew cream in the vegan enchiladas may separate in the freezer, leave it off the batch that you'll be storing. And all the toppings are just a bonus — don't worry if you don't have them all.
A soup with beans or meat can be a full meal. Always a freezer superstar, soup comes together especially easy if you've stocked your pantry with stock or bouillon cubes.
When you're freezing soup, remember to leave a generous amount of headspace so that when the liquid expands, it doesn't break the container. To get frozen soup out of its container quickly run it under hot water with the lid on until you see it pull away from the sides and bottom.
Veggie burgers and meat burgers can be easily cooked and frozen on a single layer on a baking sheet or on a plate that'll fit in your freezer. Once frozen you can stack them and they won't stick together, so you can grab only the amount you need for dinner that night from the freezer.
If you're making meat burgers, simply season and portion the raw meat into balls before freezing. Then you can defrost them, form them, and still cook them to a medium-rare. And remember, burgers don't have to be eaten on a bun. Try shaping them smaller and eating two or three on a salad or in a pita.
Think of meatloaf as a giant hamburger (or veg burger) that's cooked easily in one delicious mass and sliced after. Cook it in a tin loaf pan, let it cool completely, and pop it in the freezer still in the pan (if you can do without the pan for a while). This makes it super-easy to reheat.
Meatballs are versatile and do well on pasta, in sandwiches, and as the protein in salads. Freeze the meatballs on a baking tray in a single layer if you have the space, and pop them into a container or freezer bag after they're frozen so they don't stick together. Wet your hands to keep the meat from sticking to them when you roll them into balls.
Jessica Brooks is a digital producer and pro-trained cook and baker. Follow her food stories on Instagram @brooks_cooks.