31 Make Ahead Meals That Are Perfect for Busy Weeknights

Two Healthy Kitchens

Dinner can be a challenge, but with these make-ahead meals to keep in the freezer, you’ll always have something delicious on deck!

Whip out your weekly meal planner, it’s time to get prepping! We know firsthand how busy life gets, and school nights make us even busier. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a handle on your daily dinners. With some meal prep and a few well-crafted make-ahead meals, you’ll be serving up great food in no time. If you’re looking for more inspo when it comes to quick dinners, check out these one-pot meals and these recipes that take 30 minutes or less.


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Honey Sesame Chicken

This delicious dinner can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. When you’re ready, defrost and toss into the slow cooker. Service with rice and broccoli and dinner is done. 

One-Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

one-pot pasta is an easy make-ahead meal
Budget Bytes

Perfect for meal prepping for a week’s worth of lunches, Budget Bytes‘ One Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta is a meal even your picky eaters will enjoy. From the savory sausage to the sweet sun-dried tomatoes, this beautifully colored dish is made using just one pan and makes tons of leftovers.

Easy Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

crock pot sloppy joes are an easy make-ahead meal
Yummy Healthy Easy

The classic American dish has never been easier than with Yummy Healthy Easy‘s recipe for Sloppy Joe’s. Add browned meat and spices to a crockpot before heading out for school pickup, after-school sports, or weekend activities, and return home to a hot dinner with minimal effort.

Related: Bun in the Oven: Make-Ahead Freezer Meals for Moms-to-Be

20-Minute Tuscan Pasta

20-minute pasta is a good make-ahead meal
Six Sisters’ Stuff

A creamy pasta that easily camouflages vegetables, Six Sisters’ Stuff recipe for 20-Minute Tuscan Pasta is an easy choice for meal prep. Make the full recipe and save half for the freezer. When you’re ready to enjoy, take out and allow to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours then reheat for 30 minutes in the oven. Dinner is served!

Pesto Chicken Pizza Rolls

The Lean Green Bean

Chicken+pizza does a happy child make! These Pesto Chicken Pizza Rolls from the Lean Green Bean are not only awesome looking, but they are great to make in a big batch and serve all week for snacks or lunch. Enjoy reheated or cold, they’ll make any hungry little happy.

Hawaiian Sweet Roll Sliders

Hawaiian Sweet Roll Sliders are an easy make-ahead meal
Make-Ahead Meal Mom

Perfect for the freezer, these mini sandwiches from Make-Ahead Mom are made with sweet buns for an extra punch of flavor. Topped with a savory sauce, they heat up to melty goodness in the oven straight from the freezer, and are great for lunches, appetizers, and tailgating!

Related: 13 Big-Batch Recipes That Will Last All Week

Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad

Gimme Some Oven

We know, kiddos usually shy away from salads but this fresh meal from Gimme Some Oven is perfect for warm nights. We can’t help but think they’ll love throwing this together ahead of time and tossing in the canned mandarin oranges, edamame, and crunchy ramen.

Breakfast Burritos

Inquiring Chef

There’s nothing better than breakfast for dinner! Whip up a batch of these freezer-friendly burritos from Inquiring Chef, then heat them up any time of the day for a super satisfying meal. Best of all, you can heat them up straight from the freezer, making them the perfect choice for busy weeknights.

Beef Stew

a good make-ahead meal is beef stew.
Pinch of Yum

This freezer meal from Pinch of Yum is the ultimate in comfort food, with hearty chunks of beef, plenty of carrots and celery and luscious tomato-based gravy. If you have an Instant Pot, this is a great time to use it (it’ll be ready in 45 minutes flat!), but there are also instructions to make it in a slow cooker.

Crustless Quiche with Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar

This Farm Girl Cooks

Everyone loves a good quiche, and this one from This Farm Girl Cooks is a make-ahead dream. It reheats well in the microwave after it’s been cooled, or you can freeze the uncooked egg mixture and thaw it when you’re ready to bake. Any way you slice it, it’s bound to be an instant favorite.

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

make ahead dinners
Vanilla and Bean

If your kids balk at the idea of salad, then this colorful Thai-inspired dish from Vanilla and Bean just might get them to give it a try. It’s filled with veggies, rice noodles and a tangy, garlicky peanut lime sauce that will have everyone asking for seconds. Best of all, it keeps well for days to come.

Related: 10 Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes for Kids to Simplify Your Mornings

Leftover Chicken Flatbread Pizza

A Taste of Madness

Give leftover rotisserie chicken an upgrade with the perfect kid-pleaser: pizza! This idea from A Taste of Madness is super easy and a great option for your weekly meal prep.

Freezer Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches

make ahead breakfast croissant
Damn Delicious

All hail Damn Delicious and this idea for freezer breakfast sandwiches. They do their name justice (hello, easy breakfast!) but also work as a quick and quirky lunch or dinner. The kids can even help assemble the ingredients!

Big Batch Chinese Beef

Kitchen Sanctuary

Put down the takeout menu! Thanks to Kitchen Sanctuary, we’ve got something much better for your hungry family. This beef dish is great for a crowd and can be used with your slow cooker. (Bonus points if you add bok choy or another green veggie!)

Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese

make ahead mac and cheese
Kristine’s Kitchen

You can never have too many mac and cheese recipes! We’re digging this one from Kristine’s Kitchen because it’s a snap to make and you can refrigerate it up to two days before baking. It’s a cheesy win-win!

One-Pot Black Bean Fajita Pasta

make ahead dinners
Sweet Peas and Saffron

Psst! Not only is this a one-pot dish from Sweet Peas and Saffron bursting with flavor, but it can also be assembled ahead of time and frozen! So when a crazy weeknight hits, all you have to do is place everything in a pot and get cooking.

Make-Ahead Spaghetti

make-ahead spaghetti
Kitchen Sanctuary

Cooking for a crowd? Need a quick meal on a chaotic weeknight? This spaghetti, courtesy of Kitchen Sanctuary, is the answer! It’s über flavorful and can even be frozen. Plus, it’s full of veggies and crispy bacon.

5-Ingredient Pizza Bagel Bites

make ahead dinners
Life Made Simple

Bagel bites and kids go together like cheese and pepperoni, which means you’ve got to try this idea from Life Made Simple. Way better than store-bought, these pizza bagel bites are customizable, freezable, and a cinch to make.

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

make ahead dinners
Dinner at the Zoo

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and sometimes families gotta have mashed potatoes. That’s where this casserole from Dinner at the Zoo comes in. It’s loaded with wow factor (a.k.a. bacon, cheese, sour cream, and chives), but easy to make for any holiday or weeknight.

Related: 12 Superfood Recipes That’ll Help Keep Kids Healthy

Baked Italian Meatballs

make ahead dinners
Thriving Home

We love these meatballs from Thriving Home Blog, which are baked, delicious and the best thing to happen to your freezer in a long time. Add them to your spaghetti, make a sandwich or just eat ‘em straight for a perfect weeknight meal.

Homemade Frozen Pizza

Love & Olive Oil

You know those store-bought frozen pizzas that you keep around for supper emergencies? Well, this homemade version from Love and Olive Oil is so much better! With tons of customization options and homemade flavor, these make-ahead pizzas are sure to please the whole family.

Chicken & Veggie Pasta Casserole

Jo Cooks

The beauty of this chicken and veggie pasta casserole from Jo Cooks is that it makes a bonanza amount of food and gives kids a good dose of veggies, too. Reinvent the leftovers during the week or freeze a portion and save for later!

Chicken (Minus the Noodles) Soup

Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen

For all the times you need comfort food in a pinch, this chicken soup from Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen has you covered. Freeze the stock mixture, add the noodles when you’re ready to eat, and voila—dinner is served! 

Homemade Fish Sticks

make ahead dinners
Katy She Cooks

As everyone knows, there are plenty of fish sticks in the sea—or at least there are plenty of homemade fish sticks in the freezer, thanks to Katy She Cooks. Bonus: This recipe is way healthier than what you’ll find in the frozen food aisle.

Related: 18 Comfort Food Recipes to Get You Through the Winter

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

spinach and stuffed cheese shells is a popular make ahead meal
Kristine’s Kitchen Blog

Here’s an updated tongue twister for you: She eats stuffed shells on busy school nights. You can make it happen, with the help of Kristine’s Kitchen Blog. (Psst! You can even lighten them up with cottage cheese.)

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

Our Family Eats

Let’s face it, kids love kid-size food—and these mini meatloaf muffins from Our Family Eats are no exception. Not only are they packed with protein and vegetables, but they can also be frozen for about two months. We promise, your minis will love them.

Tortellini, Spinach, and Black Bean Soup

How To: Simplify

You’ve got to bookmark this hearty tortellini, spinach and black bean soup from How To: Simplify. It’s a great thing to have on hand for the mid-week rush, and it offers a tasty way to scarf up spinach.

Garden Vegetable Lasagna

make ahead meals
Tastes Lovely

Load up on your veggies with this delish lasagna from Tastes Lovely! The cheesy layers are a total kid-pleaser—and they make great camouflage for the green stuff.

Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato

Thriving Home Blog

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Especially when it’s healthy, delicious, and freezable? This Thriving Home recipe involves Greek yogurt and sweet potato, among other ingredients. We guarantee the kiddos will want seconds!

Easy Tomato Soup with Roasted Bell Peppers

make ahead meals
Julia Kicova on Unsplash

This make-ahead meal combines simple ingredients to make a truly magical soup—not a bad kitchen lesson for your little chefs! It’s easy to whip up and freezes beautifully so you can slurp it up any day of the week. Get the recipe here.

Chicken Pot Hand Pies

Two Healthy Kitchens

How cute are these hand pies from Two Healthy Kitchens? They’ve got all the tastiness of chicken pot pie (hello, flavorful veggies, tender chicken, and thyme crust!) but are totally kid-sized. 

 

 

 

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