Making a kid-friendly dinner doesn’t have to be stressful especially with these make-ahead meals for busy moms. Get a jump on dinner while the kids are sleeping, at school, outside, or otherwise occupied earlier in the day–with these make-ahead meals.
Make Ahead Recipes for the Week
This big list of easy make ahead meals are perfect make ahead meals for the week without the fuss of a meal planning system. A full meal planning system is great, but for some of us, it is just too much planning. What I love about choosing a couple of these meals each week to make ahead, it decreases my weeknight dinner stress and the entire family can sit down together for a meal that was already ready.
Related: Easy simple dinner recipe ideas
Instead of getting bogged down with a meal system today, simply look at 2 or 3 nights that are available this week for meals, choose those from the list and then make them ahead all at the same time when you have a few minutes on the weekend or for me, Monday night seems to usually be open.
Why Quick and Easy Make Ahead Meals?
- Make ahead meals are flexible
- You can prep whenever you have time
- If you prep in the afternoon, let dinner cook or just hang out in a warm oven until you’re ready to eat dinner
- And possibly best of all, each recipe below has been kid-tested by moms like me. Sure to please.
Best Make Ahead Meals to Freeze
The good news is that all of these make ahead meals can be frozen. If you are anything like me, something will happen to your plans and suddenly dinner doesn’t work out! Don’t worry. If you can’t fit the meal into the next day or two, then just pop it in the freezer and try again next week.
How to Defrost a Frozen Make Ahead Meal
When you are using make ahead meals from the freezer, let it defrost overnight in the fridge and then cook like you normally would.
Make Ahead Meals with Chicken
1. Oven Roasted Lemon Whole Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots
This is a lick-the-plate favorite at our place from Foodlets. Spend 15 minutes putting it together, then the whole thing slowly cooks all afternoon in the oven. This easy chicken recipe is one of the most delicious dinner ideas.
2. Make Ahead BBQ Wings
One of my favorite ahead recipes is this tasty and tangy BBQ idea from Beauty Through Imperfection. Great flavor in a kid-friendly portion: Love and love.
3. White Chili One Dish
Full of juicy chicken and white beans, this chili recipe from The Sweet Potato Chronicles is the best way to serve chili to kids who aren’t into the tomato-based kind.
4. Busy Weeknights Chicken Adobo
Elsie Marley‘s chicken thighs in a thick, rich, and tangy tomato sauce sound great, but knowing you can meal prep it days ahead of time sounds even better.
5. White Chicken Chili Recipe
Brimming with protein-packed white beans, this easy-to-make delicious meal from The Realistic Mama is one that waits right on the stove.
6. Stove Top Broccoli, Chicken & Rice One Pot
I am a firm believer in one-pot meals! A one-pot dish from Foodlets that cooks–and waits–on the stove until dinner time (Note: If my kids didn’t love it the first time, they’re believers now).
7. Biscuit-Topped Turkey Pot Pies
A can of store-bought biscuits makes quick work of a dish that typically takes much longer to make which is great news for the end of the day. Try this recipe from Foodlets.
8. Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Two beloved flavors come together in this family favorite of all healthy recipes, Rotel Chicken Tortilla Soup. You know this one gotta be good and the whole house smells amazing because of the slow cooker! Oh, and don’t forget the lime juice (or lime wedge) and fresh cilantro.
9. Moroccan Chicken Slow Cooker Casserole
I love introducing our kids to new flavors and the sweet cinnamon in this dish from Beauty Through Imperfection helps bring a bit of familiar flavor to a new experience.
10. Easy Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot
Nothing waits better than a slow cooker meal, and this one’s a one-pot meal in the making. This recipe from The Realistic Mama also makes an easy freezer meal!
11. Chicken Garden Minestrone Soup Recipe
Get everything in a pot and let it go! Once you get it going, let it sit for an hour or so and enjoy! The best part is, there will be plenty of leftovers for days! Perfect! And it’s healthy! This recipe from Homemaking For God is a keeper!
Delicious Make Ahead Dinner Ideas that are Meatless
12. Sweet Potato & Apple Soup
Pureed soups don’t get more flavorful than this one, full of our kids’ two favorite fall flavors including my favorite, sweet potatoes! Check out this recipe from The Sweet Potato Chronicles.
13. Simply Best Oven Potatoes
What’s easier than a side dish that cooks itself in the oven? I think this recipe from The Realistic Mama would be even more amazing with a little sprinkled cheddar cheese on the top. This would go well with ground beef steaks, pork chops, boneless chicken breasts, rotisserie chicken, tender chicken breast, chicken tenders…really any meat.
14. Meatless Meatballs Recipe
This vegetarian version from Kids Activities Blog of a beloved classic includes eggs, nuts, cheese, and three different kinds of something you’d never guess.
15. Baked Macaroni & Cheese (with Carrots!)
There are times when sliding a few carrots into an otherwise gooey pasta dish is the perfect way to combine delicious and nutritious! This is one of them from Foodlets.
Amazing Make Ahead Recipes for Busy Days & Busy Nights
16. Fried Cabbage with Crumbled Bacon
Looking for more easy meals? This is one of the more healthy dinner ideas. If you (or the kids) think you don’t like cabbage, make this one from Foodlets tonight. The cabbage gets soft and buttery, the bacon’s salty and crispy, together it’s heaven.
17. Tex-Mex Rice, Beef & Beans
All the flavor of beef tacos in a one-pot meal from Foodlets. This is one of those meals we have regularly on a Sunday afternoon or early dinner. This dinner have big flavor and actually only requires a handful of ingredients.
18. Baked Eggs with Cream, Ham & Swiss Cheese
This is one of our easiest, fastest meals that ALSO waits patiently in a warm oven until everyone is ready to eat. What? How is that possible? It is one of the most simple recipes at Kids Activities Blog
19. Delicious Pork Pierogi
This recipe may require some work to make up front, but the make ahead part is still true. You’ll have enough for a few nights work of dinner. These Pork pierogi are so delicious. Best part is, you can use any filling in this pierogi recipe like cheese and potato or sauerkraut and mushroom. This recipe is totally worth it from Homemaking For God.
20. Bacon & Swiss Quiche
Our kids love eggs. And bacon. And Swiss cheese. But when they find out there’s a pie crust involved with dinner? There might be cheering and I believe we have identified one of the ultimate comfort food! Try this recipe from This Heart of Mine.
21. Fritatta with Spinach, Pancetta and Ricotta
An easy-to-make egg dish with rich Italian flavors kids love from Foodlets. Just add dinner rolls! This is soooo good. Fresh spinach, salt pancetta, and rich ricotta is a complete meal. Plus you get the protein from the eggs. Makes a perfect main dish. I think I would add some roasted cherry tomatoes on top. Yum!
22. Baked Risotto with Bacon and Peas
Nope, no stirring over the stove here. Just a rich and creamy rice dish that is an easy way you can park in the oven until you’re ready to call the rascals for dinner. Check out this recipe from Foodlets
That makes the dinners you can make ahead of time, whether it’s earlier in the day or in the month. Take advantage of your slow cooker, instant pot meal, oven, freezer, and a little plan ahead of time!
Storing Your Make Ahead Meals
- Most of these recipes will leave you with delicious leftovers, which is great on a busy day!
- You can store these in individual portions or enough for your family, but they all need to go into an airtight container.
- Most of these also double as easy freezer meals. Roasts, bbq, and soups tend to freeze well. But they need to go into freezer-safe containers.
- Before you put your food up or try to freeze it you need to let it cool off to room temperature. We don’t want to let bacteria to get crazy and make anyone sick.
- But making a big meal is a great way to make sure you have a quick meal for a fast weeknight meal.
More Easy Dinner Recipes from Kids Activities Blog
- This Rainbow Pasta will make dinner exciting!
- Try our Taco tater tot casserole recipe!
- Easy casseroles no matter what is in your pantry.
- This One Pan Fish and Veggies both delicious and healthy.
- Chicken Fried Rice is a family favorite!
- We love this quick dinner ideas for kids recipe
- Get healthy with these Easy Salad Recipes.
- More kid-friendly dinner ideas!
- Want more quick easy dinner ideas? We have them!
What is your favorite make-ahead meal? Share it in the comments!