18 Easy Make-Ahead Meals Perfect for Busy Weeknights

updated Jun 7, 2022
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I’m a firm believer that make-ahead meals are one of the very best gifts you can give to your future self. Walking into the kitchen at the end of the day knowing that dinner is prepped, cooked, and just waiting to be reheated feels like a total treat. And not only that, but dinners like veggie-packed chili and braised meats happen to taste even better a day, even two or three, after they’re made.

From slow cooker chicken burrito bowls to red lentil soup to juicy boneless chicken thighs, these are our 18 most popular make-ahead meals.

1 / 18
Sweet Potato Curry
This quick Thai-inspired red curry is filled with sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and baby spinach, and made creamy with coconut milk.
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2 / 18
Easy Pasta Salad
This cool salad keeps well so you can make a big batch to eat for no-cook lunches throughout the week.
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3 / 18
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs in the Oven
Boneless chicken thighs are a breeze to cook in the oven, and it's just as easy to prep several pounds as it is one. So plan ahead and go big.
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4 / 18
Ground Beef Taco Casserole
This recipe is everything you love about classic ground beef tacos baked into a big-batch casserole, then topped with lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheddar. Serve the leftovers over a salad of wrap them in a soft tortilla.
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5 / 18
Slow-Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls
There is so much to love about this recipe, and the fact that it can be made in advance is just the beginning. With just five minutes of prep time, you're treated a bowl of brown rice, black beans, corn, and shredded chicken, all topped with a layer of melted cheddar before serving.
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6 / 18
Vegetarian Chili
A simple combination of veggies, beans, and spices transforms into an easy, flavorful vegetarian chili you can eat all week long.
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7 / 18
Slow Cooker Brisket and Onions
Add this to your meal plan for next Monday because the beauty of brisket is that it is even better when made ahead of time. Prepare this slow cooker dinner on Sunday, then stash it in the fridge and gently reheat it in the oven before serving.
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8 / 18
Red Lentil Soup
As we move into fall, this is a make-ahead favorite you will definitely want to cozy up with. It's a wholesome, hearty meal that's easy to pull together and immensely comforting. Pair it with a simple salad or a chunk of baguette and dinner is ready.
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9 / 18
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
When you know you'll be staring down a busy week, this is exactly the sort of meal you want waiting in the fridge to greet you for dinner. Chock-full of shredded chicken, white beans, and lots of veggies and herbs, it's wholesome, nourishing, and, best of all, totally comforting.
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10 / 18
Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Pulled pork is basically the gift that keeps on giving all week long. It leaves you with a lot of meat, but it is so versatile and easy to repurpose into different types of meals so it doesn't feel like you're eating the same thing day after day.
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11 / 18
Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
When you have a recipe like this one by your side, there is no need for takeout. This version of the saucy Indian restaurant favorite hits the table with little effort and proves easy to make ahead when the slow cooker is involved.
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12 / 18
Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken
Make a batch of shredded chicken on Sunday, and you can head into the week feeling good that easy-to-assemble dinners are on the horizon. Use this mild-mannered meat in everything from tacos and burrito bowls, to soups and salads.
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13 / 18
Slow-Cooked Bolognese Sauce
I don't make bolognese nearly as often as I'd like, but when I do I always make a double batch. This meaty sauce holds up well in the fridge, and is ideal for tucking away in the freezer for easy dinners during busy weeks.
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14 / 18
The Absolute Easiest Crustless Quiche
This easy egg bake comes together with whatever meat, cheese, or veggies you have in the fridge. And best of all, it keeps for days and it's just as delicious eaten straight from the fridge as it is warm.
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15 / 18
Baked Ziti
Guess what - baked ziti freezes like a charm! So eat half now, and freeze the rest for another week.
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16 / 18
Beef Stew
Like many stews, this one is even better when it's made ahead of time.
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17 / 18
Instant Pot Chicken Breast
This method is specifically for plain chicken breast that you can use as meal prep for building salads and grain bowls or for using in recipes that call for cooked chicken.
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18 / 18
Instant Pot Weeknight Chicken and Rice Burrito Bowls
Filled with chicken, rice, black beans, corn, and salsa, these burrito bowls come together quickly with an Instant Pot.
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