7 Cheap Freezer Meals on a Budget
If the daily grind makes healthy, affordable meals a hassle you struggle to manage, we can help. Find a good deal on some quality Ziploc freezer bags and freezer-grade plastic storage containers, and you can prep your meals in advance. Using single sized serving containers will help you stay organized, keep you from overeating, and prevent waste.
Setting some time aside to prepare for the week doesn’t have to be a chore—put on your favorite album and dance while you work. Your wallet will be thankful that you won’t have to splurge on to-go food when you’re in a rush. So get your grocery list ready and check out these delicious starter recipes. Feel free to add your own twist!
Money saving tips for shopping
Before we get to the recipes, let’s review some important cash-saving tips.
First, your freezer bags are reusable, so don’t toss them unless they’re torn or they touched raw meat. Use soap and warm water to wash them out if needed, and let them dry inside out. You can even hang them with a clothespin to keep them out of the way.
Shopping for produce in season is the best way to get healthy fruits and vegetables in your diet without overspending. Plus, your vegetables will taste better because they didn’t have to travel halfway around the world to get to your store. You can always buy when the price is right and freeze them for later.
Finally, herbs and spices can make all the difference when you’re trying to save money. Buying in bulk when something’s on sale and using different herbs and spices for seasoning will help you avoid getting fatigued from repetitive meals. You can find spices a lot cheaper in bulk than you can in the jars (think half the price for twice the amount), and they’ll be a lot easier to measure out for your recipes.
Growing your herbs is a lot cheaper than buying them, as well – especially because they never spoil. Herbs just keeps growing. In fact, most of them are happy to grow with each other in the same pot, indoors or outdoors!
Cheap Freezer Meals
1. Frozen Burritos
An easy contender for the most versatile and convenient meal on the planet, a burrito can be served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner with the right filling. You just need to choose the right kind of tortillas and cheap ingredients without too much water content. Don’t put anything in them you wouldn’t mind eating hot (no lettuce—it will be gross). You’ll want to let your filling cool before you assemble your burritos to avoid condensation. Then fold them up, wrap them in aluminum foil, and stick them in a freezer bag. You can microwave them in a paper towel for 1-2 minutes, or thaw overnight and heat them up in a toaster oven—whatever works best for you! Here are three of our favorites:
2. Frozen Curries
A coconut milk-based curry can be healthy comfort food with a lot of versatility. Making curry in a slow cooker or an Instant Pot will turn cooking time into an afterthought. And the best part is how well they freeze! There’s plenty of moisture to protect against freezer burn, and because the flavor spreads over time, they are often tastier later. Store them in freezer-safe plastic containers and reheat them in the microwave or on the stove.
Curries can be easily modified to fit most restrictive diets, especially keto or plant-based diets. (Try using oat milk if you’re allergic to coconut.) These simple recipes are very friendly for your budget:
3. Frozen Pizza
Making your own pizzas, whether personal-sized or big enough for the whole family, is a great way to save money on something everyone loves to eat. Plus, you don’t have to skip any of your favorite toppings or settle for ones you don’t like. If you prefer to avoid dairy, you can always skip the cheese or try a dairy-free alternative (though they can be a bit pricey).
This will be a little more time consuming than some of the other options, but if you recruit some help in the kitchen, it can be a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And it’s a lot cheaper than ordering delivery, especially since you don’t have to tip!
4. Frozen Pasta
Let’s face it – pasta is a crowd-pleaser, and you can make it without spending much money. Sure, a pot of spaghetti only takes about 15 minutes start to finish, and then you can toss in whatever sauce you like. But it takes time to do it right. So why not put some love in your dinner beforehand instead of rushing through it on a busy night?
These recipes are a big improvement on the pasta meals from the freezer aisle in the store, and there’s plenty of room for you to personalize them to your taste. Add freshly grated parm or minced herbs once it’s heated, and you’ll forget it was ever frozen!
5. Frozen Chili
Chili is the perfect meal, year-round. Sweat out the heat in the summer and warm your belly in the winter. You can serve it with crackers, chips, or better yet—put it on nachos. And the best part? You can make it on any budget.
For the purists, we’ve included a no-bean, no-tomato chili recipe. But a good chili recipe is a great way to turn all kinds of cheap ingredients into a meal you’ll be happy to come home to.
6. Frozen Meatloaf
Meatloaf has long been a parent’s secret weapon for sneaking vegetables into a picky kid’s diet. But if it’s good enough for the harshest critic, it’s good enough for the rest of the family. There’s plenty of ways to change up your meatloaf. Even something as simple as switching up the sauce or using ground turkey instead of beef can add variety to your diet without complicating things.
Here are some recipes to get you into the groove of things:
7. Frozen Lettuce Wraps
Lettuce Wraps are much more fun to eat than salad, and if you’ve already got the filling made, you can turn a head of romaine lettuce into boats with one chop of the knife. Of course, it doesn’t have to be romaine—any big leafy green that’s on sale will do.
A lot of recipes will have a Thai or Chinese flair, but you can get creative with the fillings. Try them as a substitute for a tortilla with your favorite taco filling, or use them as a vehicle for your favorite chili recipe. Honestly, anything that would make a good sandwich works as a lettuce wrap. Keep your fillings in the freezer, and thaw them in a pan or heat them up in the microwave. Here are some fun recipes to get you started: