We all know the feeling—it’s almost dinnertime and you’ve spent the late afternoon convincing yourself that you can just throw together a delicious meal based on the seemingly random things you find in the fridge. There’s definitely leftovers from last night’s takeout, right? No? Ate those for lunch? What can you make with a bag of shredded cheese and some suspicious-looking greens?
Before you resort to a bowl of cereal, make sure to check your freezer. We’ve rounded up our favorite dinner recipes using everyday freezer staples, and they might be just the thing you need to make your dream of an easy last-minute meal a reality, no Cheerios required.
Got post-Holiday pie crusts still hanging out in your freezer? We don’t (necessarily) recommend serving a pumpkin pie for dinner, but we can absolutely endorse these mini turkey pot pies. They’re the ultimate comfort food in miniature form, and with plenty of ways to adapt the recipe based on what’s available, it’s one of the best go-to dinners around. GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: The original recipe calls for ground turkey, but you can use ground beef or shredded chicken instead, whatever you’ve got in the fridge. You can also try different variations of frozen veggies, think asparagus, broccoli, or diced sweet potatoes. Remember that bag of shredded cheese you were eyeing? Stir some in to make this comfort food next-level yummy.
Remember when you went to Ikea a few months ago, picked up a bag of their famous meatballs, and then promptly forgot about them? Now is their time to shine. Need more good news? You don’t even need to cook the pasta called for in this recipe before baking. Everything cooks together in the casserole dish, which means you can get dinner in the oven in under 15 minutes. GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: Cooking at home for a smaller crowd? You can easily halve the called-for ingredients and bake in a smaller casserole dish. You can also sub in any type of pasta sauce for nights where you’re craving a creamy alfredo over traditional marinara.
This is the ultimate “use whatever is on hand, we can’t get to the grocery store today” meal, but it’s resourcefulness doesn’t make it any less delicious. It’s also a kid-favorite and a great way to get said kids to enthusiastically eat an entire serving of vegetables without even noticing (or complaining.) GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: Is your family divided on their tolerance for spicy food? Let the heat-lovers get their fix by adding some chili sesame oil to their fried rice. You can buy chili sesame oil pre-made, or make your own by combining sesame oil, chili oil, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.
Cooking for a big family? Want to make something a little different that will still satisfy even the pickiest eaters? These oven-baked fish tacos are the answer. Don’t keep lots of fresh fish on hand? No problem, just grab that bag of frozen fish sticks—they clean up nicely alongside some tangy cilantro slaw and plenty of lime wedges. GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: Swap out the shredded Mexican cheese blend for some crumbled queso fresco for a fresh and creamy taste that tastes great with guacamole or sliced avocados.
Do you know about Rhode’s Thaw, Rise, & Bake Bread Dough? It’s a game-changer, so pick up a package of their whole-wheat dough during your next grocery run and you’ll always be ready to serve a quick, satisfying dinner hot from the oven in just 35 minutes. GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: This recipe calls for a ham, cheese, and broccoli combo, but you can use any fillings you like, from tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to pizza sauce and pepperoni. Whatever way you make it your own, it’s guaranteed to taste great!
Comfort food and our favorite food (tacos forever!) come together in this cozy casserole that transforms that bag of frozen tater tots into something seriously amazing. It’s also perfect for feeding big families on a budget, especially when everyone’s staying home. GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: Try different variations of your favorite salsa (or try making some of your own) to get the perfect flavor combination.
In the mood for some cheesy pasta? Who isn’t? Got some frozen spinach that you bought for a great price but don’t know what to do with? These stuffed shells are the perfect solution. Filling, delicious, and super simple to make, this just might be your new favorite weeknight dinner. GET THE RECIPE
Mix it up: No frozen spinach? Fresh is fine too! Want to go low-fat and budget-conscious? Substitute the ricotta for cottage cheese. Either way, an irresistible meal is just an hour away. One more tip: You can make this ahead and freeze for future use as well!
Cooking with what’s already in your freezer is a great way to save money, master your home cooking skills, and stay healthy. We hope these freezer-find meals make spending more time at home both delicious and satisfying! Now go see what gourmet finds are hiding in that freezer!