Food for Soul

15 Easy Make-Ahead Meals to Add to Your Dinner Roster ASAP

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)


updated NOV 20, 2020

I’m a firm believer that make-ahead meals are one of the very best gifts you can give to your future self. Walking into the kitchen at the end of the day knowing that dinner is prepped, cooked, and just waiting to be reheated feels like a total treat. And not only that, but dinners like chili and braised meats happen to taste even better a day, even two or three, after they’re made.

From slow cooker chicken burrito bowls to red lentil soup, these are our 15 most popular make-ahead meals.1 / 15

Easy Pasta SaladThis cool salad keeps well so you can make a big batch to eat for no-cook lunches throughout the week.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX2 / 15

How To Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs in the OvenBoneless chicken thighs are a breeze to cook in the oven, and it’s just as easy to prep several pounds as it is one. So plan ahead and go big.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX3 / 15

Ground Beef Taco CasseroleThis recipe is everything you love about classic ground beef tacos baked into a big-batch casserole, then topped with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheddar. Serve the leftovers over a salad of wrap them in a soft tortilla.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX4 / 15

Slow-Cooker Chicken Burrito BowlsThere is so much to love about this recipe, and the fact that it can be made in advance is just the beginning. With just five minutes of prep time, you’re treated a bowl of brown rice, black beans, corn, and shredded chicken, all topped with a layer of melted cheddar before serving.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX5 / 15

Vegetarian ChiliA simple combination of veggies, beans, and spices transforms into an easy, flavorful vegetarian chili you can eat all week long.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX6 / 15

Slow Cooker Brisket and OnionsAdd this to your meal plan for next Monday because the beauty of brisket is that it is even better when made ahead of time. Prepare this slow cooker dinner on Sunday, then stash it in the fridge and gently reheat it in the oven before serving.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX7 / 15

Red Lentil SoupAs we move into fall, this is a make-ahead favorite you will definitely want to cozy up with. It’s a wholesome, hearty meal that’s easy to pull together and immensely comforting. Pair it with a simple salad or a chunk of baguette and dinner is ready.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX8 / 15

Slow Cooker White Chicken ChiliWhen you know you’ll be staring down a busy week, this is exactly the sort of meal you want waiting in the fridge to greet you for dinner. Chock-full of shredded chicken, white beans, and lots of veggies and herbs, it’s wholesome, nourishing, and, best of all, totally comforting.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX9 / 15

Simple Slow Cooker Pulled PorkPulled pork is basically the gift that keeps on giving all week long. It leaves you with a lot of meat, but it is so versatile and easy to repurpose into different types of meals so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating the same thing day after day.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX10 / 15

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka MasalaWhen you have a recipe like this one by your side, there is no need for takeout. This version of the saucy Indian restaurant favorite hits the table with little effort and proves easy to make ahead when the slow cooker is involved.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX11 / 15

Slow Cooker Shredded ChickenMake a batch of shredded chicken on Sunday, and you can head into the week feeling good that easy-to-assemble dinners are on the horizon. Use this mild-mannered meat in everything from tacos and burrito bowls, to soups and salads.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX12 / 15

Slow-Cooked Bolognese SauceI don’t make bolognese nearly as often as I’d like, but when I do I always make a double batch. This meaty sauce holds up well in the fridge, and is ideal for tucking away in the freezer for easy dinners during busy weeks.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX13 / 15

The Absolute Easiest Crustless QuicheThis easy egg bake comes together with whatever meat, cheese, or veggies you have in the fridge. And best of all, it keeps for days and it’s just as delicious eaten straight from the fridge as it is warm.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX14 / 15

Baked ZitiGuess what – baked ziti freezes like a charm! So eat half now, and freeze the rest for another week.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOX15 / 15

Beef StewLike many stews, this one is even better when it’s made ahead of time.GO TO THE RECIPESAVE TO RECIPE BOXKelli FosterFOOD EDITOR, PLAN & PREP

Kelli is the Food Editor for Plan & Prep content for Kitchn. She’s a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and author of the cookbooks, Plant-Based Buddha BowlsThe Probiotic KitchenBuddha Bowls, and Everyday Freekeh Meals. She lives in New Jersey.FOLLOW KELLI

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