Meal prepping can be tricky. The best-laid meal plans often go awry, especially when you’ve got picky kids and busy parents involved. That’s why we’ve rounded up an arsenal of make-ahead recipes that never fail us, from drool-worthy beef stew to homemade pizza bagel bites. Read on to see our favorite make-ahead recipes and meal prep ideas.
1. Sweet Potato Taco Bowls
Meal prep has never been easier, thanks to this genius recipe from The Creative Bite. Just roast sweet potatoes and cook up a batch of ground meat on your prep day, then let your crew assemble their own bowls with their choice of toppings. Get the recipe here.
2. Breakfast Burritos
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. Get the recipe here.
3. Cheesy Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole
You’re definitely going to want to add this recipe from Family Food on the Table to your meal prep repertoire. After all, it’s filled with kid-pleasing ingredients (like chicken and a healthy dose of cheese) and it’s super easy to make. Just assemble the casserole on the weekend, then finish it off in the oven when you’re ready to eat it. Get the recipe here.
4. Beef Stew
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. Get the recipe here.
5. Crustless Quiche with Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar
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. Get the recipe here.
6. Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
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. Get the recipe here.
7. Leftover Chicken Flatbread Pizza
8. Freezer Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches
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! Get the recipe here.
9. Big Batch Chinese Beef
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!) Get the recipe here.
10. Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese
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! Get the recipe here.
11. One-Pot Black Bean Fajita Pasta
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. Get the recipe here.
12. Make-Ahead Spaghetti
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. Get the recipe here.
13. 5-Ingredient Pizza Bagel Bites
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. Get the recipe here.
14. Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
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. Get the recipe here.
15. Hand Pies
How cute are these hand pies from Two Healthy Kitchens? They’ve got all the tastiness of a chicken pot pie (hello, flavorful veggies, tender chicken, and thyme crust!), but are totally kid-sized. Stock your freezer and get the recipe here.
16. Baked Italian Meatballs
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. Get the recipe here.
17. Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas
Forget Taco Tuesday—any day can be enchilada day with this recipe from Gimme Delicious. This dish has layers of flavor, super simple instructions, and can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. Score! Get the recipe here.
18. Homemade Frozen Pizza
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. Get the recipe here.
19. Chicken & Veggie Pasta Casserole
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! Get the recipe here.
20. Chicken (Minus the Noodles) Soup
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! Get the recipe here.
21. Homemade Fish Sticks
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. Get the recipe here.
22. Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells
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.) Get the recipe here.
23. Cheesy Broccoli and Pepper Baked Orzo
This baked orzo from Oh My Veggies hits all the top Cs—it’s cheesy, comforting and colorful, too. Freeze it in individual portions for extra-quick meal prep and add all the extra veggies you want. Get the recipe here.
24. Mini Meatloaf Muffins
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. Get the recipe here.
25. Tortellini, Spinach, and Black Bean Soup
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. Get the recipe here.
26. Enchilada Casserole
This black bean and spinach enchilada casserole from Kiwi and Bean isn’t just for vegetarians. Take it out of the freezer, pop it into the oven until it’s warm and bubbly, and watch the hungry masses gather ‘round! Get the recipe here.
27. Alphabet Vegetable Soup
Give your make-ahead meal a little literary twist! This alphabet soup comes straight from Chef Marjorie Druker (best-selling cookbook author and owner/executive chef of The New England Soup Factory) so you know it’s the real deal. Get the recipe here.
28. 4-Ingredient Chicken Rigatoni
Please your pasta-loving crowd with this couldn’t-be-simpler recipe from Grace and Good Eats. This dish only requires a few ingredients, but the flavor payoff is off the charts. It’s just the thing to help control your weeknight chaos. Get the recipe here.
29. Garden Vegetable Lasagna
30. Mac and Cheese with Sneaky Sweet Potato
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! Get the recipe here.
31. Easy Tomato Soup with Roasted Bell Peppers
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.
— Abigail Matsumoto