1. Pre-Made Salad Mixes - Most raw, chopped vegetables will keep fairly well in the refrigerator for about a week. They can be tossed with fresh greens and a simple vinaigrette (which can also be made ahead!) just before you want to eat. Also, check out our template for Make-Ahead Pasta Salad with Veggies, Cheese, and Greens.
2. Cooked Veggies - Our standard mix of chopped vegetables includes onions, peppers, and mushrooms. You probably have something similar! This mix gets used in almost every hot dish we make: frittatas, tomato sauces, soups, and even on weeknight pizzas. Having a big batch of these vegetables cut and cooked ahead of time means less time for individual meal prep.
3. Cooked Meat - As with the vegetables, we find it handy to have some kind of pre-cooked meat in our fridge that can be thrown into dishes as another ingredient. Chicken breasts or a roast cooked on the weekend can cut thinly for sandwiches and paninis, shredded for soups and pastas, or cut into salads.
4. Pre-Made Bread Dough - Any bread dough can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Just make the bread through the first rise and instead of shaping it into loaves, stick it in a large container or plastic bag and refrigerate. Just let the dough warm for about 20-30 minutes before shaping and using it. Basic bread dough can be used to make sandwich loaves, pizza, or stove-top flatbreads.
5. Pre-Made Cookie Dough - For those nights when we're craving a little sweet to end the meal but don't have anything already made, we keep a bag of pre-mixed and pre-portioned cookie dough in the freezer, just like you find in the freezer aisle at the store. To bake, we just set the cookies on a sheet pan on the counter to thaw while the oven pre-heats!
What other make-ahead tips do you have for making weeknight meals easier?
Related: Basic Technique: Mise en Place