Freezer Pasta Salad for Quick Packed Lunches

Frozen pasta salad? Yeah. It’s so cool (haha!). You freeze cooked pasta, chicken and veggies. For a quick packed lunch, take it out frozen, drizzle with salad dressing and go. It defrosts by lunchtime.

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Pasta salad is a good option for lunch at the office or for the kids’ lunchboxes. A good whole wheat pasta will give you full carb feeling with staying power. Some chicken and legumes are in there for protein. And don’t forget to add some veggies.

This pasta salad is cooler than most. It’s frozen (haha). You cook up the pasta and chicken. Toss them together with cooked veggies or frozen ones and freeze in lunch portions. To get your grab-and-go lunch, pull out the portion, put it in your lunch container, drizzle it with dressing (ranch and Italian are my faves) and go. It will defrost by lunchtime. It makes for a hearty and filling lunch that will prevent hunger pains at 3 p.m and will avoid the guilt of stalking the vending machine’s candy bars.

Freezer Pasta Salad

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz.) package of penne or rotini
  • 12 oz. broccoli florets
  • 1 lb. crinkle cut carrots
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can great northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can garbanzo beans , drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. Italian salad dressing or olive oil (plus more for serving)

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions except, 4 minutes before it's cooked, add the broccoli and the carrots (depending on the size of the pot you're using, you may need to remove some water first to make room for the vegetables). Put the pot back on high and cook for the remaining time. Drain. Return the pasta and vegetable to the pot and cover with lots of cold water. Drain and repeat until pasta is cold.
  2. In a very big bowl, combine the pasta and vegetable mixture with the chicken, bell pepper, 2 cans of beans and 3 tablespoons of the salad dressing. (You can use plain olive oil if you want).
  3. Divide the pasta salad among 3(1 gallon) zip top bags. Seal the bags and then lay them flat in the freezer. Every hour or two,  shake them around so that the bits do not freeze together but instead freeze individually or in very small clumps.
  4. Once the pasta salad is completely frozen, take each bag out of the freezer and drop it lightly onto a hard surface to further ensure that everything is in small pieces.
  5. To serve: In the morning put some of the pasta salad into a lunch container. Optionally drizzle with more salad dressing (1/2- 1 Tbsp. is sufficient for a lunch portion). Seal the box and put it into the lunchbox. It will defrost by lunch time.  You can also defrost the pasta salad in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave in the morning before packing.

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Cookful. She also blogs at COOKtheSTORY where she specializes in easy healthy homemade recipes. Healthiness aside, she has been known to shred cheese onto a dinner plate, microwave it for 30 seconds, and then eat the messy goop with a spoon.