Heather K Adams
Content + Copy Writer

Nothing makes you feel quite so good as having a homemade meal to dish out for dinner. Busy work schedules and hectic lives mean leaning into recipes you can prep and even make ahead. Knowing you have something delicious waiting at home will make even the worst day a little easier. Try out these 25 recipes for make-ahead dinners that truly satisfy.


Nothing says homey goodness like a big hearty casserole. From classic lasagna to new takes on pasta bakes, casseroles are crowd-pleasers.

1. No Boil Lasagna

Source: Coco and Dash

Prep time: 20-25 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes

A winter staple, one you can make big enough to live off the leftovers for quite some time. It also freezes well, so portion single serving sizes ahead of time for quick-thaw meals later on. The best part? You need never boil a lasagna noodle again.

2. Choose Your Own Adventure Frittatas

Source: Cookie and Kate

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

The basic formula is easy: eggs, milk, cheese and veggies. Where you go with that is part of what makes frittatas so much fun: they're easy to personalize, and they adapt well to seasonal ingredients. In the summer, try one chilled over salad. In winter, simply re-warm in a slow oven.

3. Not-So-Classic Shepherd's Pie

Source: Serious Eats

Prep time: 25-30 minutes

Bake time: 20-25 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

Creamy, buttery potatoes and savory beef or lamb form the classic base of shepherd's pie. This recipe punches it up a bit with wine and additional vegetables to deepen the flavor but not the fuss. This is the pie to pull out when you want to impress.

4. Beef and Three-Cheese Noodle Casserole

Source: food52

Prep time: 25 minutes

Bake time: 20-25 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

The best recipes have wiggle room. Adapt this one to your own tastes by playing with cheese combinations, switching beef for chorizo or even savory vegetables. No matter which way you bake it, this casserole is solid any day of the week.

5. Grown-Up Tuna Noodle Casserole

Source: The Kitchn

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Like Mom's, only better. Well, with healthier ingredients anyway (sorry, Mom). This take on the tuna classic uses the freshest ingredients and a homemade sauce, so you can control the salt and fat at every step. Pro-tip, though: fat really does equal flavor. Don't fear the butter.

Soups and stews.

Spend a bit of time Sunday afternoon prepping and simmering, and these soups and stews will get you through the entire week. Pair with rice, pasta, a salad or just a good hunk of bread to soak up every bit of savory goodness.

6. Vegan Veggie Soup with Wild Rice

Source: Budget Bytes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Mushrooms and wild rice add a depth of flavor, while coconut milk brings in a creamy goodness that turns this soup from a starter to the main event. Onion, celery and carrot are the classic combo, but feel free to personalize by adding in your own favorites too.

7. Tuscan Soup with White Beans

Source: A Couple Cooks

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Before you roll your eyes at yet another Italian soup (who hasn't had way too many, right?), check out the ingredients. Fennel and smoked paprika add a dash of surprise to a somewhat standard soup de jour. Plus, beans and greens add a health factor that makes this serious good eats.

8. Butternut Squash Soup

Source: Gimme Some Oven

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes (stovetop)

Total time: 45 minutes

This one is total creamy goodness, with a depth of flavor that might surprise you. Basic ingredients and a simple process means this one is a win all around. This recipe also include variations for the stovetop, pressure cooker or slow cooker.

9. Curried Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew

Source: Love and Lemons

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Cook time: 20-30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Not your grandma's winter stew but full of stick-to-your-ribs happiness just the same. Warm curry, ginger and cardamom make this a lovely mid-winter dish, breaking up the blah of those deep cold months.

10 Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

Source: Spoon Fork Bacon

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

How good does this look? Juicy marinated chicken in a buttery so-good sauce. Think about making a big double batch to freeze. Then all you need to do is pull out a container in the morning, heat and serve in the evening. This full, rich stew will spice up any Thursday, guaranteed.


These are the old reliable dishes so many of us grew up loving and still crave. None are labor-intensive, either, and they'll add a dash of comfort to Hump Day.

11. Spaghetti and Meatballs

Source: Natasha's Kitchen

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25-30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Garlicky goodness in both the meatballs and the sauce make this one a hit for fans of this standard. And as we all know, this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day and the next.

12. Spicy Chocolate Chili

Source: Olivia's Cuisine

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Chili is a favorite for so many of us. But adding the deepness of chocolate takes it from Super Bowl Sunday standard fare to something closer to a classic Mexican mole. Yet it retains its "heat and eat" simplicity. A beautiful modern make-ahead dinner take on an old familiar.

13. Chicken Noodle Soup

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Prep time: 25 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours

Total time: 4 hours 25 minutes

Is there anything better than homemade chicken noodle soup? The canned stuff is fine in a pinch, but it's also often bigger on salt than flavor. Make yourself a big batch of this goodness, then fill your freezer with grab and gulp goodness.

14. Meal-Worthy Mac & "Cheese"

Source: My New Roots

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Mac and cheese for dinner? Yep! And not the blue box with a bag of peas stirred in, either. This vegan take on our childhood love uses butternut squash and savory (healthy!) nutritional yeast to create a grown-up flavor experience that still consoles the soul exactly the way you remember that other stuff doing.

15. Stuffed Bell Peppers

Source: Kristine's Kitchen Blog

Prep time: 10 minutes (plus time to cook rice, if using)

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Approximately seventy-five percent of cookbooks from the 70s and 80s seem to have the same old recipe for stuffed green bell peppers. Those are good, but there's a world of fair game out there for stuffing alternatives. Meat or no meat, rice or no rice, to top with tomato sauce or to not: personalize this classic for an easy heat-up make-ahead dinner.

Slow cooker delights.

Coming home to the scent of dinner already in the air is the delight of every Crockpot owner. You get all the slow-cooked goodness without any of the drudgery.

16. Pot Roast

Source: Dinner Then Dessert

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 8 hours

Total time: 8 hours 15 minutes

There's nothing homier than pot roast, and yet it's a win for weekdays and weekend entertaining alike. Juicy beef, big chunks of potatoes, sweet carrots, that oh-so-umami sauce... Pot roast is a must-have make-ahead dinner for all meat lovers.

17. Beef Stew

Source: Pinch of Yum

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Slow cook time: 5-6 hours

Total time; 6 hours 15 minutes

This recipe is friendly for your on-the-go lifestyle from start to finish. Prep your veggies and your beef ahead of time, store in freezer bags and pull out the day you feel like having a big old bowl of so-good stew.

18. Chicken and Dumplings

Source: Delish.com

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3-4 hours

Total time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Savory chicken and dumplings get a lot easier in a slow cooker. You can even skip the dumplings step for a quicker take, serving the chicken and sauce over rice. The dumplings are dead easy, though: a bit of store-bought dough and another hour in the cooker. Which, fancy that, is the perfect amount of time for a long soak in the tub before dinner...

19. Lamb Tacos

Source: Foodie With Family

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 5 hours

Total time: 5 hours 15 minutes

Tender garlic and lemon lamb in a slow cooker makes Taco Tuesday a breeze. The meat spends all day in the cooker, and then all you have to do is assemble your favorite toppers. This recipe goes Greek with yogurt and olives, but you can tailor it to your heart's delight.

20. Chana Masala (Chickpea and Potato Curry)

Source: Taste of Home

Prep time: 20 minutes (plus time to cook rice)

Cook time: 6-8 hours

Total time: 8 hours 20 minutes

Curry is such a warm and soothing flavor and goes so well with vegetables. This recipe also bumps it up with garlic, ginger and garlic. Simple to make, gorgeous to eat.

Bake and serve.

From pot pies to pasties, anything you can surround with a buttery flaky crust is something to look forward to after a long day. You can freeze these and then pop them in the oven to warm through while you kick off your shoes.

21. Vegan Mini Pot Pies

Source: The Minimalist Baker

Prep time: 35 minutes

Bake time: 15 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

These mini savory delights are easy to pre-assemble if you want to bake the biscuit topping fresh but are also lovely simply re-warmed in the oven. No muss, no fuss. Just good eating.

22. Beef and Potato Pasties

Source: Epicurious.com

Prep time: 50 minutes

Bake time: 45-55 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Behold the humble pasty: a simple, delicious crust full of beef, gravy and potatoes. And with fillings that easy, spending some time making your own dough on the weekend is worth it. Your Tuesday self will thank you.

23. Have 'Em Your Way Hot Pockets

Source: Make Ahead Meal Mom

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

A hand-made dough is a beautiful thing. Real talk, though: It can also just take too much time. This recipe embraces that fact and uses store-bought dough. The easy-peasiness continues with a simple layering of your favorite hot sandwich ingredients. Fold, seal, freeze, done.

24. Cheesy Garlic Spinach Tart

Source: Bon Appetit

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Cook time: 35-40 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

While this recipe calls for homemade, a store-bought pie shell is also perfect for this baked make-ahead dinner. Full of savory herbs, bake this on the weekend and refrigerate for lunch, or whip up the fillings in the morning to bake that night.

25. Beef Empanadas

Source: My Food and Family

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Excellent baked or fried, with homemade or store-bought dough, beef empanadas are another perfect make-ahead dinner. Great for your meal tonight and as a grab-and-go lunch tomorrow.

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