Freezer Meals You Can Make for Under $5

Freezer meals are a lifesaver when you don’t have time to cook. With just a couple of hours of prep work on the weekend, you’ll be able enjoy no-fuss meals during the busy workweek. As a bonus, freezer meals are often very budget-friendly, especially when they help you avoid food waste, which costs the average American between $28 and $43 per month. Here are five budget-friendly meals to help you stock your freezer.

All average food prices from either the USDA’s Economic Research Service or the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Kickin’ Mini Meatloaves

mini meat loaves

Meatloaves | iStock.com

Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce give these mini meatloaves an extra kick. With ground beef averaging $4.68 per pound and 10 ounces of sweet potato costing roughly 60 cents, preparing this dish should cost you just a little more than $5. Once cooked, the mini loaves can be wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer for a month. Recipe from Rachael Ray.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato (10 ounces), peeled and cut into ⅓-inch cubes
  • 3 slices firm white bread, torn
  • 1½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 2 teaspoons sauce
  • 6 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Visit Rachael Ray for recipe directions. 

2. Freezer Breakfast Burritos

egg, tortilla, breakfast burrito

Burritos | iStock.com

A filling breakfast is the perfect way to start the day, but hectic schedules make it all too easy to run out the door without grabbing a bite to eat. These homemade freezer breakfast burritos from Budget Bytes solve that problem. Six eggs should cost roughly $1.28, while 2 cups of canned black beans will run you about $1.16, and 6 ounces of cheddar cheese will cost about $1.97.

Ingredients:

  • 6 large tortillas
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 6 tablespoons salsa
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese

Visit Budget Bytes for recipe directions. 

3. Chicken Dill Soup

chicken soup

Soup | iStock.com

Make a big batch of this tasty chicken dill soup so that you always have an easy meal on hand when you (or someone you love) comes down with a cold. A pound of boneless chicken breast costs about $3.39, 2 cups of sweet potatoes are about $1, and a cup of frozen green beans is roughly 55 cents. The remaining ingredients in this recipe from Midwest Living are also inexpensive.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 quarts chicken broth (8 cups)
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice
  • 2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1½ cups thinly sliced carrot
  • 1 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
  • Salt-free seasoning
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Visit Midwest Living for recipe directions. 

4. Twice-Baked Potatoes Four Ways

Double baked potatoes with cheese and scallions

Potatoes | iStock.com

If you like twice-baked potatoes but hate waiting for them to cook, simply prepare them in advance, freeze, and then reheat in the microwave. You can customize this recipe from Southern Living with your choice of fillings. We’ve included one suggestion for a combination of chicken, broccoli, and cheese. Best of all, with potatoes costing about 50 cents per pound, this is truly a budget-friendly meal.

Ingredients:

For potatoes:

  • 4 (10- to 12-ounce) russet potatoes
  • ½ (8-ounce) package ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • ½ cup milk

For suggested filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Visit Southern Living for recipe directions. 

5. Freezer Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Enchiladas

Enchiladas | iStock.com

Budget-friendly black beans are the main protein in these tasty enchiladas from $5 Dinners. Use a disposable baking pan when preparing the enchiladas and then store, well-wrapped, in the freezer until ready to reheat.

Ingredients:

For enchiladas:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can refried beans
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chilies, drained
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups homemade enchilada sauce

For enchilada sauce:

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspooon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • About 1 teaspoon salt and pepper each

Visit $5 Dinners for recipe directions. 

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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