Many of you are out of the house nearly all day and come home to the dinner hour with no extra time to spend whipping up a meal. And grilled cheese and hot dogs can only be eaten so many days in a row before bad things happen, in my opinion. The meals below should help you with that dinner crunch conundrum. All of these meals can be made ahead in some form or another – some are slow cooker meals, some are meals I have successfully frozen and baked later, some can be assembled the night before or morning of and refrigerated until ready to bake. So peruse to your heart’s content and realize that dinner solutions are right here for the taking!

Creamy Chicken Spaghetti

Baked Garlic and Fontina Spaghetti

Best Baked Manicotti

Baked Manicotti

Baked Pasta with Chicken {or Turkey} Sausage

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella

Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozzarella

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

BBQ Chicken Salad with Creamy BBQ Cilantro Lime Dressing

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches {Slow Cooker}

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili

Brazilian Feijoada

Brazilian Feijoada {Slow Cooked Pork and Black Bean Stew}

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Cheesy Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Pillows with Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Chicken Pillows with Creamy Parmesan Sauce

Chicken Shepherd's Pie with Kale Mash

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie with Garlic-Kale Mash

Chili Verde {Mexican Stewed Pork}

Chili Verde {Mexican Stewed Pork}

Classic Baked Ziti

Classic Baked Ziti

Classic Italian Lasagna

Classic Italian Lasagna

Coconut Curry Soup

Coconut Curry Soup

Country-Style Pork and White Beans {Slow Cooker}

Country-Style Pork and White Beans {Slow Cooker}

White Chicken Chile Enchiladas

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy White Chicken Chili

Creamy White Chicken Chili {Stovetop or Slow Cooker}

Swiss Chicken Bake

Crunchy-Topped Swiss Chicken Bake

Cuban Street Tacos

Cuban Street Tacos

Greek Pastitsio Casserole Style

Delicious Greek Pastitsio {Casserole-Style}

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Freezer Beef and Bean Burritos

Freezer Beef and Bean Burritos

Grilled Island Chicken

Grilled Island Chicken

Hearty Beef Stew

Hearty Beef Stew {Slow Cooker}

Italian Lasagna Rolls

Kalua Pork

Kansas City Sue's Chicken

Kansas City Sue’s Chicken {Slow Cooker}

Crockpot Mediterranean Pork

Mediterranean Pork with Couscous {Slow Cooker}

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna

Mushroom Lasagna with White Sauce

Mushroom Lasagna with White Sauce

Pineapple Salsa Chicken {Slow Cooker}

Pineapple Salsa Chicken {Slow Cooker}

Red Chile Sauce Chicken Enchiladas

Red Chile Sauce Chicken Enchiladas

San Francisco Chops

San Francisco Chops {Slow Cooker}

Italian Beef

Slow Cooker Italian Beef

Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Stacks

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

Smothered Pork Chops

Smothered Pork Chops {Slow Cooker}

Split Pea Soup with Barley and Ham

Split Pea Soup with Barley and Ham {Slow Cooker}

Super Bean Burritos

Super Bean Burritos

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork {Slow Cooker + Instant Pot}

Tender Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples and Onions

Tender Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples and Onions

Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets

Thai-Style Fish and Creamy Couscous Packets {Make-Ahead Meal}

The Best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

The Best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Ultimate Beef Stroganoff {Slow Cooker}

49 Responses to 40+ Make Ahead Meals!

  1. Jamie says:

    I am facing a possible Ankle surgery that will have me laid up in bed for one only know how long if it comes to fruition, should it happen I need to have food on hand that can just be reheated and eaten, so happy to have found this page, and may use your recipes surgery or not πŸ™‚

  2. This is great! My husband and I both work full time AND on top of it we are starting our small farm operation so sadly, cooking dinner has fallen by the wayside. This list is great! I’ve already started compiling a grocery list to make a bunch of these over a weekend and have two weeks of meals ready. Thank you for creating this list, they all sound delicious! πŸ™‚

  3. Jonathan says:

    Dang, the photography of these meals alone is making me drool. I really enjoy making meals that can be prepared ahead of time as much as possible as it cuts down the clutter of making everything all at once.

  4. Diana says:

    Love your website. Why haven’t i found it sooner? I too love to cook and am constantly looking for new ideas and stumbled upon your 40+ Make Ahead Meals. Thank you for sharing and making it so easy to navigate!

  5. I just found heaven! Thank you for all of these!!

  6. Grammy7 says:

    I just keep clicking around tho see that adorable baby! if you havent seen her look in Mushroom Lasagna with white sauce, now I have 7 grandkids but this ones delish I mean the baby

  7. […] Cacciatore,Β Cookies, Enchiladas, Burgers, Baked Ziti, Chicken Chili, and Pizza Dough,Β a list of more than 40 freezer meals!,Β 10 recipes of potatoes, chicken, Italian, etc.,Β 5 different recipes and instructions to make […]

  8. […] 40 make ahead meals Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in DIY, healthy, Holidays, inspiration, Recipes | Tagged easy fast recipes […]

  9. Kelly Grace says:

    Just wanted to add my thanks for your 30 minute meals and the make ahead meals.
    May I suggest a collage of your favorite Holiday recipes?

    Beautiful blog.

  10. Dani says:

    Wow! Just stumbled across your website…what a fantastic find! Making your slow cooker balsamic pork tenderlion tonight and I have pinned your 42 make ahead meals. So helpful! Thanks!

  11. Nanc says:

    Thanks. I am using the ones I can freeze to stock my daughter’s freezer for after child birth.

  12. Keia says:

    I’m new to your site and i have to have insipired me to get in the kitchen and start cooking.. so many recipes and the pictures are making me hungry!! Thanks

  13. Megan says:

    I politely request a fall food collage….pumpkin, soups, halloween treats….oh, and then later, do a thanksgiving and Christmas one. Love these collages.

  14. danielle says:

    well…I am a big fan of the lists. And if you ever decided to make more I’d vote for: best recipes to feed a crowd, fun recipes to serve for book groups, best choices for baby blessing luncheons, and best foods to serve when you need to impress someone. πŸ™‚ haha

  15. Jen T says:

    We loved the pineapple salsa chicken! Thanks! Looking forward to trying some more next week!

  16. Rhiannon says:

    Oh my gosh! This post came at the perfect time πŸ™‚ I have gone from being a stay at home mom for the past 9 years to my 3 kiddos to working full time 40 hours a week! A shock to my system for sure! And this is exactly what I have struggled with- what to prepare for dinner that isn’t a sandwich but that also doesn’t have us eating at 8:00 at night! I can’t wait to try these out. Thank you!

  17. Andrea says:

    Loving the recipe collages! Thank you!

  18. Kensi says:

    This is awesome!!! I’ve having a baby in 4 weeks and I need to get busy with the make ahead meals!!! Also, you haven’t heard from me in awhile because we’ve been in transition, but I still LOVE your blog and recipes! And good news, we are now living in the USA so I can try all of the recipes that I haven’t been able to in the past! Good luck with the hotel again this weekend… I hope you guys can get settled soon! πŸ™‚

  19. Lisa Maria says:

    Oh my goodness..thank you, thank you, thank you for this! I left the webpage up so I could browse through and my husband and children can’t wait for me to try some of these. God bless you Mel!

  20. Natalie says:

    You are a saint! Thank you, thank you!

  21. Cammee says:

    I love you.

  22. Mel says:

    Kate – I don’t keep track of the nutritional info. Sorry!

  23. Jen T says:

    Awesome! Thank you so much! I have the pineapple salsa chicken in my crock pot for tonight! Thanks!!! Hope the house hunting is going well!!

  24. Janelle says:


  25. Pamela A says:

    Thank you so much – I love your site and the collection of great recipes that I want to try them all!. I love the montage of meals that you put together, this will make my life so much easier. I’ve been trying to work overtime at work but after work 11+ hours then going home to face trying to get something together – I can’t wait to try these. THANK YOU!

  26. Kate says:

    I love the constant influx of great and delicious ideas from your site. Thank you! Do you have any sense of how healthy (or unhealthy) some of these are? I’m curious whether any of these entrees are under 500 calories.

  27. Randee Donovan says:

    I fully support your new hobby!!! Thanks!

  28. Heather says:

    I love your website and get so many recipes from here. Thanks for taking the time to do that!

  29. Leigh Anne says:

    This collage ROCKS! I’m also getting really hungry looking at it. Thanks for all of the work you put into organizing this…..I will refer to this for years to come πŸ™‚

  30. Catherine says:

    Mel! I have been a faithful follower for a couple years now but haven’t commented yet. I was so thrilled with your 30 min menu because my husband and i are expecting our first baby and I have had a terrible time with nausea! I usually love to cook but have wanted simple fast things lately. This menu collage will go right along with that!! We LOVE your recipes and you are on our dinner table at least 3 times a week I am always recommending you to friends. Thank you for the work you put into your blog and sharing all these great meals with us. You have definitely made me a better cook and we look forward to family dinner time every night!! πŸ™‚

  31. sara says:

    Loving this – so great!

  32. Liz says:

    The thing I love about this post is that I already have two of the soups on my monthly meal plan for Oct, (I’m planned way ahead because a baby is on its way in a couple of weeks) one of the pastas doubled and frozen in my deep freezer, and another one of the chicken dishes ready to go for later this week. What would I do without your blog?

  33. Stacy K says:

    I love your collages as yet another way to search your food, great idea! Thank you! Fall Foods &/or Fall Desserts would be a great collage…or any of the options in the “recipe categories” tab on the far right side-bar pull-down tab. (I’m a visual person, so seeing all the options on one screen is even easier for me to select what I want)

  34. Laura D says:

    Awesome idea – thank you!! Plus it’s reminding me of recipes that I’ve wanted to try.

  35. Ashley says:

    This is kinda blowing my mind. I think you have single handily conquered my weekly menu planning dilemma. Thanks!!!!

  36. Mel says:

    Janelle – I’ve never frozen the black bean pumpkin chili but I bet it will freeze fine and yes, you could use ground turkey.

  37. Erin says:

    I LOVE all of your food. Thank you for all your time helping us out trying to feed our family good healthy food.

  38. Laura says:

    I love both of these posts! I would love for you to do some menus for having company/guests for dinner. Thanks! I LOVE every recipe I have ever made from your blog. It is my favorite!

  39. Laurel says:

    I can browse the recipe index for hours and yet not see everything. This is just what I needed. This was a fabulous idea!! So many still to try. I’ve got my menu ready. I can’t wait. Thank you!!

  40. Janelle says:

    Okay, so I’m really interested in the black bean and pumpkin chili. Could I just use ground turkey for it? And do you know if it freezes well?

    (I didn’t know if you’d see the comment if I left it on an old post.)

  41. Carla says:

    Mel, you’re my hero! I’m probably the opposite of the rest of your readers; I’m single and even though I love to cook, cooking for one is no fun (I’m a farm girl, I like to cook big!). I’ve done a few make ahead meals before & frozen as individual servings. This post motivated me to do it again, these recipes are awesome! Thank you!!!

  42. Stacie D. says:

    LOVE this, Mel! I can’t believe how many of these I have still yet to try. And there are some that have become favorite standbys and are already on the menu for this week! Thank you for this great resource!

  43. Deborah says:

    With baby #3 coming soon, you don’t realize how much this list is going to come in handy for me! Love it!!

  44. Kim in MD says:

    I love this post! Thanks for taking the time to collage your make ahead recipes, Mel! I personally love your new hobby! πŸ˜‰

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