The Burned-Out Cook

The 10 Make-Ahead Meals I Cook Over and Over

updated May 15, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

I don’t know about you, but I’m just a bit burned out on cooking right now. When I feel crispy and tired, my strategy is to double down on batch cooking. If I need to cook, it helps to do it just once a week. I love the security of having some food squirreled away in the fridge Sunday night for YOYO dinners on busy nights. And the bonus? Some of my favorite make-ahead meals get better and better as they sit in the fridge for a couple of days.

My Top 10 Make-Ahead Meals

Here are the meals I’ve been loving and relying on most this spring, often made with a big batch of brown rice. Most of these just need a piece of fruit or a quick green salad to feel like a complete meal.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

An easy, vegetarian black bean chili from the slow cooker.

As I peruse my most-made list, I realize how much meat we eat — especially chicken. This chili is a hearty, vegetable-driven alternative. I love that this is mostly made with pantry ingredients and also with dried beans (no soak needed for this recipe).

Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili

Credit: Lauren Volo

Hummus bowls with smoky veggies are a rising star.

I missed out on hummus bowls for too long. Now I am such a fan. I buy a container of hummus in my groceries every week, then roast a batch of veggies with smoked paprika and eat them together. My toddler loves hummus too so it’s great for all of us.

Get the recipe: Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl

Pizza pinwheels, of all sorts.

I love pizza pinwheels and I’m not ashamed of it! Sometimes I make a batch of no-knead dough; sometimes I just buy pizza dough at the grocery store. Then I roll up pinwheels with whatever cheese and scraps of sauce or bits of leftover meat I have in the fridge. I make these ahead but they rarely last; my kids love them too.

Get the recipe: Cheesy Pizza Pinwheels

Credit: Faith Durand

My all-time favorite chickpea stew with spinach, lemon, and coconut milk.

This chickpea stew is inspired by chana masala, but adapted to riff on the things I always have in my pantry: sun-dried tomatoes, coconut milk, frozen spinach. It’s rich and luxe, but also tangy with lemon. If I had to pick one of my own recipes to make every week, forever, it would be this, hands-down.

Get the recipe: Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon

Credit: Lauren Volo

A big batch of roasted (or grilled) chicken thighs.

An absolute staple. I keep a lot of different spice mixes stuffed in a drawer, and every week I make a batch of chicken by folding it in olive oil and a handful of spices. (My current favorite is this fennel and anise-laced Mediterranean mix. Deeelicious.)

Get the recipe: How to Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs in the Oven

Credit: Faith Durand

A deceptively easy pulled chicken with bacon.

This recipe tastes extremely rich, with a depth of flavor that makes you wonder about its very short list of ingredients. But that’s the magic of bacon, fresh fennel, and chicken thighs.

Get the recipe: Chicken Ragù with Bacon

Credit: Faith Durand

A two-can Instant Pot chicken dinner.

This isn’t really a recipe, but more of a formula: coconut milk, simmer sauce, some chicken (or a head of cauliflower, which works beautifully too). I love making a big saucy dish like this every week in the Instant Pot. Instant dinner.

Get the recipe: The Delicious, Practical Instant Pot Dinner I Make Every Week

Credit: Faith Durand

A lemony soup with tiny pasta.

Here’s another reliable formula: Cook a little ground chicken (or veggie sausage), add some vegetables and aromatics, then broth. Finally, a handful of tiny pasta. Ta-da! Soup. This one feels right for spring.

Get the recipe: Lemon & Rosemary Chicken Minestrone Soup

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Old-school tacos. Nostalgia at its finest.

What’s a make-ahead recipe roundup without tacos? Lately I have been absolutely craving old-school ground beef tacos. I make the beef on a Sunday night then just bake the tacos quickly when we’re ready to eat. Easy-peasy.

Get the recipe: Easy Ground Beef Tacos

Credit: Joe Lingeman

A big egg casserole stuffed with leftovers.

I’m always going to push the concept of an oven omelet on you; they’re just so easy! I use this simple base of eggs and milk as a vessel, too, for any leftover vegetables or cheese. Just fold in and bake. Good for dinner, breakfast, or lunch.

Get a recipe: Breakfast Burrito Egg Casserole

What are your favorite batch-cooking recipes getting you through right now? What makes a good make-ahead recipe right now?