Now that school is back in session and associated activities have ramped up, it can feel like it’s almost impossible to get a healthy dinner on the table on school nights—let alone one that everyone in the family wants to eat. What’s the answer? The freezer! When you have healthy options for dinner ready to heat and eat, it is so much easier to get nourishing food on the table in a flash.
A lot of folks like to stock their freezers through marathon cooking sessions, and that’s great if you can fit that in. But if it feels too overwhelming, there’s another way to go about filling your freezer—one dish at a time. Next time you make your family’s favorite freezer-friendly dish, double it and put half in a freezer-safe container. Slowly, but surely, your freezer will fill up with dinners that your family love to eat, without much more work than you’d normally spend just to cook dinner.
This veggie-filled pasta bake is a great freezer-friendly, healthy recipe to get you started. It’s vegetarian—making it perfect for Meatless Monday—but still feels hearty and filling, thanks to the many veggies and healthy whole grains. It’s sure to please even the kids in your family. Who doesn’t love cheesy pasta?! Enjoy!
Freezer-Friendly Veggie Pasta Bake
- 1 pound whole wheat short pasta
(like farafelle or penne)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 24-ounce jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a two-quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Cook until just al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add in the garlic and onion, and cook until just tender and fragrant, about two minutes. Add in the zucchini, green pepper, and mushrooms, and cook until all veggies are soft and have released most of their water, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the spinach and spaghetti sauce, and cook until the spinach is wilted and the sauce is heated through, about five minutes.
- Remove the sauce from heat, add in the cooked pasta, and toss to coat. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
- To freeze: Fill an aluminum foil baking dish with the mixed pasta and sauce and then top with cheese. Seal with aluminum foil, and then freeze.
- To cook from frozen: Preheat oven to 350°. Baked covered frozen pasta in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, until heated through.
- Feel free to double or triple this and eat some for dinner and place some in the freezer.
- Make sure to cook the pasta al dente. If you cook the pasta until completely soft, it will become soggy in the oven or freezer.
Nutrition Per Serving
534 calories, 11.1g fat, 91.2g carbs, 29.7g protein