Do you ever feel like cooking, especially healthy meals, is hard? I do. Especially if you’re only cooking for one (which is how I started). And honestly, while I like leftovers, I can’t just prep on Sunday and eat the same breakfasts, lunches, and dinners all week. I just can’t.
When I was first cooking for myself (as a junior in college, living off campus), I didn’t really know where to start. I knew how to cook – my mom had taught me the basics. And I’m pretty good at following directions from the internet. But actually buying the right groceries, making healthy stuff without breaking the bank, not having a ton of food waste – all that was hard.
One of the first things I did to make it easier for myself to cook more often without wasting food, money, or too much time was what I call freezer meals.
I’m not talking Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choice (although I won’t knock those too much – I’ve certainly eaten my fair share of Lean Cuisine pizzas!). I’m talking actual stuff you can keep in your freezer so you can cook a healthy meal.
But first, why am I starting with the freezer?
Having food always available in the freezer to whip up a simple meal in under about 30 minutes made me so much more likely to cook. They require almost no prep or effort, and I didn’t have to worry about counting exactly how many days I needed dinner or having to make an extra grocery run.
It’s a great first step when you’re still in that stage where you’re eating out with friends 5 times a week, or you don’t get home from work until 7 at night.
So without further ado, here are my top picks for food that you can easily cook right from your freezer:
- Sea Cuisine Crusted Fish: My favorite is the potato-crusted Cod, although the Tortilla Tilapia is a close second. These fillets are super easy to eat – just preheat the oven and pop one in. The outside gets nice and crispy while the fish gets soft and flaky. They’re way better than any other frozen fish I’ve tried.
- Frozen Turkey Burgers: Jennie-O and Butterball both have frozen turkey burger patties. They go straight from freezer to skillet, grill, or broiler – you can choose how you want to cook them. You can use just a little salt and pepper to season them, or you can get a pre-made meat seasoning mix, like Lowry’s, for a more “sophisticated” flavor profile. Keep buns in the freezer too – just use the defrost setting on your toaster. (If your toaster doesn’t have one, use the defrost setting on the microwave and then toast it after.)
- Frozen shrimp: Doesn’t matter what brand you go with – just make sure they’re pre-peeled and deveined. Ain’t nobody got time for that! You do have to defrost these first, but I promise, it’s easy and doesn’t take too long. Just place the frozen shrimp in a strainer or colander. Then place in sink and let cool water flow over them until they are thawed (usually 5-10 minutes). You’ll need to stir them around every once in awhile to make sure the edges thaw too. Then simply place in a skillet with some salt, pepper, and olive oil and cook for another 5 minutes or so (until they turn nice and pink). Voila!
- Frozen meatballs: Okay, this one isn’t as healthy (although you can get turkey meatballs), but at least you’re not eating out. They’re usually pre-cooked, so all you need to do is heat them up – either in the oven, in the microwave, or on the stovetop. The bag will have the instructions. You’ll need to have marinara sauce in the pantry to go with these (but unopened marinara sauce lasts for a long time – even a whole year past the expiration date. And if you have buns in the freezer or pasta in the pantry, you can really make this a whole fancy Italian feast. (Jennie-O’s are good, but if you’re lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe’s, get theirs!)
- And to make it a true meal, just add frozen veggies: You know what these are. Skimp the temptation to get the ones covered in cheese and just go with a basic veggie blend that you can steam right in the bag, in the microwave. I promise, the extra $0.25 per bag to steam it in the bag is worth it to not have to clean another bowl.
There you have it – my favorite fast, easy, no-fuss, healthy freezer meals!
Now before some of you health nuts tell me that these aren’t healthy, I will caveat by saying that I know these aren’t the healthiest. These are simply a starting point – it’s way better than ordering Chinese take-out or pizza for delivery. We all have to start somewhere.
Plus they’re great back up meals to just always have on-hand, even if you missed your regular grocery run.
Share this with anyone you know who has no clue where to even start with healthy(ish) cooking at home, and pin it (pin below) to pick up some items for back up on your next trip to the grocery. And if you want to know when Part 2: Basic Pantry Essentials comes out, sign up for my email list at the top of the page!
Like this? Want more? Check out my post on the 6 Basics for Healthy Eating.