Happy Labor Day Weekend! It felt like it would never get here. We spent our week very busy with work, our son starting at his new daycare, and subsequently getting a 102 degree fever for 3 days; so yeah, it’s been a long and exhausting week. He doesn’t get sick often, and I thought chasing him around the house is exhausting, but it turns out having a sick kid is way more draining.
I’m always happy about freezer meals for weeknight dinners, but on weeks like this, I don’t know how we would eat anything but takeout without them. We all survived on very little sleep and very little energy, so being able to take dinner out of the freezer and simply warm it up was a lifesaver.
This easy and healthy taco bake is one of my all time favorite freezer meals. The recipe below is for THREE freezer meals. Yes, you can make three future dinners at one time. It’s cheap to make, healthy, and so delicious. It honestly reminds me of eating a burrito bowl at Chipotle. And it makes enough that my husband and I can both have it for lunch for the next two days.
When I eat it for lunch, I warm it up and throw it on top of a giant pile of romaine and spinach, drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar, and it makes a delicious salad.
I always make it in foil pans (not the deep dish ones because they will take up too much space in your freezer) that easily stack in the freezer and make for the EASIEST clean up ever. You can find these at your local grocery store, but they are cheaper if you buy them at a dollar store (I get three for a dollar at mine) or buy them in bulk on Amazon. Look for 8×12 or 9×13 size pans like these (click on the picture to buy these on Amazon):
So, this recipe is so easy and so tasty, you’re going to be making another batch of these as soon as you finish up the last one. They will last in the freezer for months, but you’ll eat them before that.
Start by making your rice. I just use whatever I have on hand which this time was half brown rice from the freezer in an easy microwaveable bag and half basmati rice on the stove. I combined them and seasoned the way I always season rice: with salt, lime juice, and cilantro.
While your rice is on the stove, you can begin browning your meat and onion. I use half turkey and half beef. You can use all turkey if you want. I do that sometimes! Again, it depends with what meat I have on hand or what meat is on sale. I will say though, I prefer the flavor of the beef and turkey combined.
When the meat is fully cooked, drain the grease from the pot, and add your taco seasoning and water. Mix until the meat is coated in the taco seasoning. Then, add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and green chilis. Allow all of this to simmer on the stove for 20-30 minutes, and then allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before assembling your freezer pans.
Spray each of your foil pans lightly with cooking spray, then layer 1/3 of the rice in the bottom of each.
Next, top with 1/3 of the taco mixture.
Lastly, sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the top. If the taco mixture is still very hot, wait a little longer to do this because you don’t want the cheese to melt.
Cover each pan VERY well with foil so no air can get in. Refrigerate the pans for a couple of hours before moving to the freezer. I bought the foil pans with the plastic lids a while ago and saved the lids to use in the freezer so I can stack these on top of each other.
To reheat, move the foil pan from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you want to eat it. If it is still somewhat frozen when you go to put it in the oven the next day, that is okay. Bake the taco bake in a 375 degree oven (still covered in the foil) for about 45 minutes. Check it after 30 minutes because it could be more or less time depending on how frozen the bake is before putting in the oven. It will be ready when the cheese in the center is melted and taco bake in the center is warm.
I always serve with my homemade guacamole, tortilla chips, and plain greek yogurt (you could use sour cream instead). We also put hot sauce on it for a little heat. This dinner is a crowd pleaser and the leftovers are just as good!
Let me know what you think!
Easy, Healthy Taco Bake
3 cups rice (white, brown, or both), seasoned with salt, lime juice, and cilantro to taste
2 lbs ground beef
2 lbs ground turkey
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can green chiles
6 cups shredded cheese (whatever shredded cheese you prefer on tacos)
2 packets taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
3 9×13 foil pans for freezing
1. Cook your rice according to package instructions. I make mine on the stovetop and takes about 20 minutes. I season with salt, lime juice, and cilantro.
2. In large pot over medium high heat on the stove, brown beef, turkey, and onion. Season with salt while cooking, and when the meat is fully cooked, drain the excess grease out of the pot and then return to stovetop. Add the taco seasoning packets and 1/2 cup water and mix in so the meat is coated.
3. Add the tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, corn, and green chilis. Turn the heat down to to medium low and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the heat after that time and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before assembling.
4. In a 9×13 foil pan, spray lightly with cooking spray. Layer one third of the rice in the bottom of each one. Then top with 1/3 of the taco mixture. Lastly, sprinkle each with one third of the shredded cheese. *Be sure your taco mixture is cool before adding the cheese because you don’t want the cheese to melt before going into the freezer.
5. Cover the pans well with foil. Refrigerate for a few hours before putting in the freezer.
6. To reheat, move pan from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before. If it is still somewhat frozen when you go to put it in the oven, that is okay. Put in a 375 degree oven still covered in the foil for about 45 minutes (Check after 30 minutes. It could be more or less time depending on how frozen it is before putting in the oven). It will be ready when the cheese in the center is melted and taco bake in the center is warm.
7. Serve with tortilla chips, guacamole, and plain greek yogurt or sour cream.