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36 Easy Make-Ahead Dinner Recipes To Simplify Your Meal Planning

When it comes to meal planning, busy schedules can be a significant obstacle. The thought of spending hours in the kitchen after a long day at work can be overwhelming. However, there’s a simple way to overcome this challenge: make-ahead dinner recipes. By preparing meals in advance, you can save time and reduce stress during the week. In fact, I’ve compiled a list of 36 delectable and straightforward make-ahead dinner recipes that are perfect for trying out.

36 Easy Make-Ahead Dinner Recipes

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

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For those seeking a convenient yet satisfying meal, this heartwarming stew is an excellent option. Its versatility allows it to be prepared in a slow cooker, making it perfect for busy weeknights when time is of the essence. Additionally, its ability to be refrigerated or frozen and reheated at a later time adds to its appeal, providing flexibility in meal planning.

Quinoa and Black Bean Casserole

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This nutritious casserole is a great solution for a fast dinner or on-the-go lunch, boasting an impressive combination of protein, fiber, and aromatic spices. Click here to get the recipe!

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

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For those seeking a plant-based twist on a beloved classic, this lentil-based rendition of the dish offers a satisfying solution. By substituting meat with protein-rich lentils and topping it all off with creamy mashed potatoes, this comforting meal is not only delicious but also easily prepared in advance.

Baked Salmon and Vegetables

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For a quick and easy meal, simply combine your preferred vegetables with a salmon fillet and roast them together until they’re tender. Then, refrigerate or freeze your creation for later use. When you’re ready to serve, pair it with rice or quinoa for a nutritious and filling meal.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

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To get the recipe, just click here! This wholesome chili is an excellent choice for meal preparation, packed with a generous amount of vegetables and protein to keep you full and satisfied.

Chicken Fajita Wraps

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To create this mouthwatering dish, start by marinating chicken breast, sliced bell peppers, and thinly cut onions in a mixture of fajita seasoning, olive oil, and your favorite spices. Once the marinade has had time to work its magic, fire up your grill and cook the ingredients until they’re nicely charred. After that, simply store it in the fridge and serve as you like – either wrapped in a warm tortilla or served over a bed of fluffy rice for a truly satisfying meal.

Meatballs and Marinara

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For a convenient and versatile meal solution, consider preparing a large batch of homemade meatballs and accompanying sauce. This way, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor at a later time by freezing the mixture for future use. Simply thaw and reheat as needed, then serve with spaghetti or use as a filling on a sandwich for a stress-free dinner option.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

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For a nutritious spin on a timeless recipe, substitute traditional rice with cauliflower rice. This simple swap elevates the dish while keeping calories in check. Feel free to incorporate your preferred vegetables and a protein source of your choice to create a satisfying and filling meal.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

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For a convenient and delicious dinner option, combine the simplicity of layering ingredients with the flexibility of make-ahead preparation. To do this, start by stacking tortillas, followed by shredded chicken and a rich enchilada sauce. This harmonious combination allows you to create an effortless meal that can be prepared in advance, making it perfect for busy days or unexpected gatherings.

Greek Salad and Chicken

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For a light and nutritious meal, look no further than grilled chicken paired with a crisp Greek salad. The convenience of using pre-cooked chicken doesn’t hurt either – simply store it in the refrigerator or freezer for easy access when you’re ready to cook. This combination makes for a satisfying and healthy dinner option that’s quick to prepare.

Vegetable Frittata

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Indulge in this versatile egg dish, suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Its make-ahead convenience makes it an excellent option for busy days – simply prepare in advance and reheat whenever you’re ready to enjoy.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

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For a delicious and satisfying meal, stuff chicken breasts with a mouthwatering combination of fresh spinach and creamy artichoke dip. This unique recipe is not only a treat to the taste buds but also provides a good dose of protein to keep you energized throughout the day.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

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To delight your palate, fill bell peppers with a hearty mix of quinoa, vegetables, and vibrant colors. This nutritious dinner option can be easily stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a quick reheat whenever you desire.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

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Experience the bold flavors of Mexico without leaving your home by cooking pork in a slow cooker with a blend of aromatic spices. This adaptable dish can be served in a variety of ways, such as wrapping it in a taco shell, serving it atop a bed of fluffy rice, or pairing it with a colorful medley of sautéed vegetables.

Thai Peanut Chicken Satay

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To create a mouthwatering and nutritious dinner, start by marinating chicken in a rich and creamy peanut sauce. Once the flavors have melded together, fire up your grill and cook the chicken to perfection. Pair it with a colorful medley of vegetables or serve over a bed of fluffy rice for a well-rounded meal that’s sure to satisfy your hunger and cravings.

Garlic Shrimp and Asparagus

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For a delicious and effortless dinner, consider roasting shrimp and asparagus in the oven. This method yields a flavorful and tender dish that can be served over a bed of fluffy rice or nutty quinoa, making it a well-rounded and satisfying meal option.

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Frittata

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To start, I’d like to introduce another delicious frittata recipe that’s packed with veggies and makes for a fantastic meatless meal option.

Chicken Alfredo Bake

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For a satisfying and flavorful meal that’s perfect for any occasion, layer pasta, chicken, and rich Alfredo sauce in a casserole dish. This comforting combination is easily prepared ahead of time, making it an ideal option for busy days or gatherings with friends and family.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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For a mouthwatering meal that’s as effortless as it is delicious, try slow-cooking pork with BBQ sauce and serving it either in sandwiches or over rice.

Italian Stuffed Zucchini

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To indulge in a hearty and comforting meal, simply fill zucchinis with a flavorful combination of sausage, tomato sauce, and melted cheese.

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

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To create a delicious and easy meal, start by sautéing shrimp and broccoli in a savory sauce. This dish can be served over a bed of fluffy rice or a plate of noodles, making it an ideal option for a speedy yet satisfying dinner.

Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Indulge in the comfort of a timeless favorite by cooking turkey meatballs to perfection, then serving them alongside al dente spaghetti for a satisfying and effortless dinner experience.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Transform the flavors of the Mediterranean into a revitalizing salad by combining cooked quinoa with a vibrant mix of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. Add some tanginess to the dish with crumbled feta cheese, then bring everything together with a zesty lemon herb dressing that’s as refreshing as it is nutritious.

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

To elevate your meal game, start by marinating bite-sized pieces of chicken in the savory goodness of teriyaki sauce. Next, thread these juicy morsels onto skewers, allowing for even cooking and maximum flavor retention. Finally, fire up your grill or preheat your oven to achieve a mouthwatering, protein-packed dish that’s sure to please.

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Transforming humble chicken breasts into a mouthwatering masterpiece requires only a few simple yet flavorful additions. By stuffing each breast with a trio of delicious ingredients – creamy mozzarella cheese, juicy fresh tomatoes, and fragrant basil leaves – you’ll create a dish that’s both satisfyingly savory and visually appealing. Simply place the stuffed breasts on a baking sheet and allow them to cook until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese has melted into a golden, gooey delight.

Veggie-Packed Pasta Primavera

Transform the flavors of the season into a delectable pasta dish by sautéing a medley of colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchinis, and plump cherry tomatoes. Then, combine these tender morsels with cooked pasta and a subtle sauce for a meal that’s at once vibrant, satisfying, and bursting with the essence of the season.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables

To create a vibrant and healthy salad, start by roasting a medley of colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, eggplant, and red onion to bring out their natural sweetness. Next, combine the roasted vegetables with cooked quinoa, fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro, and a zesty vinaigrette dressing for a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes make the perfect canvas for a flavorful and nutritious meal. Simply bake them until they’re tender, then stuff them with a vibrant mix of black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, and a blend of aromatic spices. This hearty combination yields a satisfying and wholesome dish that’s sure to please even the pickiest eaters.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Transform a whole chicken into a delectable main course by seasoning it with the brightness of lemon, the pungency of garlic, and the freshness of herbs. Roast the bird to perfection in the oven until its golden crust gives way to juicy, flavorful meat. Pair it with a medley of roasted vegetables for a well-rounded and satisfying dinner experience.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Transforming the humble ground meat into a delectable dish, simply cook it with an aromatic blend of Asian-inspired spices and seasonings. This innovative approach yields a surprisingly light and revitalizing meal that bursts with flavor, perfectly presented in crisp lettuce cups.

One-Pot Pasta

Savor the simplicity of cooking a complete meal in just one pot! By combining pasta with your preferred sauce, vegetables, and protein, you’ll not only create a mouthwatering dinner but also reduce the hassle of multiple dishes to clean afterwards. This convenient approach to cooking allows you to focus on the flavors and textures that bring you joy, rather than worrying about a cluttered kitchen.

Baked Teriyaki Salmon

Indulge your taste buds by enrobing succulent salmon fillets in a rich, homemade teriyaki sauce and baking to perfection. This culinary delight can be paired with a medley of steamed vegetables and fluffy rice, creating a well-rounded and satisfying meal that’s both nutritious and indulgent.


To prepare this delectable vegetable medley, begin by slicing layer upon layer of eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes within a baking dish. Next, drizzle the arrangement with an abundance of olive oil and sprinkle on a blend of aromatic herbs. Finally, allow the mixture to bake until each vegetable is tender and infused with an irresistible flavor.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Transform the humble combination of chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and fresh herbs into a revitalizing and nutrient-dense salad by whisking together a zesty lemon vinaigrette to bring all the flavors harmoniously together.

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Transform juicy chicken drumsticks by smothering them in your preferred BBQ sauce, then baking until they’re tantalizingly sticky and caramelized to perfection. This mouthwatering main course is best paired with a refreshing side of coleslaw and a warm slice of cornbread for a truly satisfying meal experience.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Combine cooked pasta with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and fresh basil for a light and refreshing pasta salad. The sweetness of the tomatoes pairs perfectly with the tanginess of the balsamic vinaigrette, creating a delightful harmony of flavors. And when it comes to meal planning, don’t let it overwhelm you – instead, turn to make-ahead dinner recipes like these 36 easy and delicious options. By preparing meals in advance, you’ll simplify your week, save time and stress, and enjoy the freedom to focus on what matters most. Whether you’re craving something hearty and comforting or light and nutritious, there’s a recipe here for you. So why not take control of mealtime and make it a breeze?