Make-ahead meals are a great way to have dinners ready for you and your family for those nights you just don’t want to cook. Some of the most popular make-ahead dinner recipes are all about fast reheat times.
Preparing make-ahead meals for your busy family gives you more time to spend with them. Additionally, you can also prepare make-ahead meals for a crowd and enjoy your company rather than spending time cooking and cleaning.
When it comes to prepping make-ahead meals to freeze, there are a lot of techniques that you can use to ensure that you have easy make-ahead meals ready in your freezer at all times. You can have tons of healthy make-ahead meals ready to go at all times. The most important thing to consider is the method you use to freeze the meals.
Most make-ahead weeknight dinner recipes will stay in your freezer for up to three months, so it’s important to freeze them properly.
Each of the make-ahead and freeze meals that you’ll see here freeze well in the pans that they were cooked in. You can add airtight tops to these pans, or you can remove the meals from the pans and put them in freezer bags as well.
So, what meals can you make ahead and freeze? Most make-ahead freezer meals are made with some form of gravy or sauce. This protects the structure of the food that you’re freezing.
Check out these recipes for make-ahead dinners to prep. We even added reheating instructions to ensure you have the perfect meal every time.
When it comes to make-ahead meals for the week, cabbage rolls are a great way to get a hearty meal without feeling guilty. They tend to be on the lighter side, and they’re high in protein.
- 1 head of cabbage boiled
- 2 lb lean ground turkey
- 2 c cooked brown rice
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes drained
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 can tomato sauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, cooked rice, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Peel the leaves from the cooked head of cabbage.
- Scoop approximately ½ cup of meat mixture onto a lettuce leaf.
- Fold in the sides and roll until meat mixture is completely covered.
- Add cabbage rolls to a greased 9×13 pan.
- Cover cabbage rolls in tomato sauce.
- Cook, covered for 35-45 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.
Reheat instructions: thaw completely, and reheat in the oven or air fryer for 15-25 minutes at 375 degrees.
There are so many great healthy make-ahead meals out there. Everyone has been at the point where they’re too tired to cook. When this happens, we often order a pizza or search the freezer for something that is stuffed with cheese and full of sodium.
Luckily, these chicken meatballs are a light dinner option that can be made in bulk and frozen for up to 3 months.
- 2 lbs ground chicken breast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 c breadcrumbs can be gluten-free
- ¼ c parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp parsley
- ½ tsp basil
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp marinated sun dried tomatoes finely chopped
- Cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, oregano, and sun dried tomatoes.
- Form meat mixture into balls, and place onto foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with brown rice and asparagus.
Reheat instructions: thaw completely, and reheat in the microwave for 1 minute.
Many people don’t think that there are vegetarian options for make-ahead meals. However, almost all of the recipes you find for cook-ahead meals can be modified to become vegetarian.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 lb fresh white button mushrooms chopped
- 1 c cooked red lentil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ c shallots minced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 c carrots chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable bouillon
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2-3 c hot water
- 1 c frozen peas
- 4-6 c mashed potatoes
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add shallots and carrots, and saute until carrots are soft.
- Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add vegetable bouillon, tomato paste, and hot water. Stir well.
- In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water. Add to the pan.
- Cook down until a gravy forms.
- Fold in frozen peas and cooked red lentils.
- Transfer to ramekins that make up a family-sized portion (depending on the size of your family.
- Top each ramekin with mashed potatoes.
- Put under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, or until mashed potatoes are browned.
1. Allow to cool completely.
2. Flash freeze shepherd’s pies by placing on a sheet tray in the freezer for 2 hours.
3. Once frozen, put in a Ziploc baggie or other airtight container.
4. Freeze for up to 3 months. Reheating instructions: allow to thaw completely. Reheat in the oven on 375 for 10-30 minutes (depending on the size of your ramekins).
This vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe gives you a hearty meal that can be portioned by single servings or family-sized servings.