10 easy make-ahead meal ideas that save a ton of time


Meal prepping can be an invaluable way for you to save money, time and calories. Instead of going home and ordering take-out or eating a box of Chips Ahoy for dinner, you can head home to a nourishing, delicious meal that is ready to go into the oven. Welcome to the meal-ahead meal phenomenon!

In fact, the concept of meal prepping is so popular that meal-kit services like Blue Apron have made a killing on the assumption that Americans will do anything to simplify their dinner routine.


But, here’s the good news. You can simplify dinner time and ensure that a healthy, delicious meal is waiting for you at the end of each day, without spending big bucks on meal-kit service.

Here are just a few genius meal-prep ideas to transform your nighttime routine (and maybe even your waistline and your wallet):

1. Slow Cooker Honey Pork With Green Beans

This make-ahead meal from A Pinch of Joy proves meal-prep doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes. By prepping the seasonings and marinade ahead of time, all you have to do is defrost the roast, beans and sauce overnight. Then you just pop it all in the slow-cooker in the morning.

A Pinch of Joy

2. Mason Jar Broccoli Salads With Kale And Apple

Mason jar salads are a genius way to save time on meal prep. With this recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen, you can make the most of fresh fall flavors like kale and apple, along with getting a daily dose of nutritious greens.

Kristine's Kitchen

3. Make-Ahead Roasted Vegetables

Part of the beauty of meal prep is how it allows you to eat healthy, whole foods. These instructions from Inhabited Kitchen show you how to easily roast, freeze and store veggies for the week. All you have to do is defrost when it’s dinner time, and you will have a fresh, roasted veggie dish to serve your family.

Inhabited Kitchen

4. Turkey Pesto Meatballs

Meatballs are the champion when it comes to foods that freeze well and please the whole family. Add noodles and spaghetti sauce, and you have the perfect dinner for kids and adults alike. A green salad or a bag of steamed veggies completes the feast. Get the recipe here from Mom to Mom Nutrition.

Mom to Mom Nutrition

5. Make-Ahead Meatloaf In The Slow Cooker

It’s so simple to prepare this crockpot meatloaf! You can take it directly from the freezer to the slow-cooke. But it stays juicy, tender and homemeade. Talk about a time-saver!  Stockpiling Moms shares their easy recipe.

Stockpiling Moms

6. Kale, White Bean and Chicken Soup

Now that fall is here, nothing comforts like a warm bowl of soup. With this recipe from Averie Cooks, you can prepare a nutritious soup for your family that is chock-full of veggies and protein. Or, you can store it in the freezer for up to six months! Just defrost in the fridge the night before you want to serve it.

Averie Cooks

7. Freezer-Friendly Spinach And Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Okay, this make-ahead meal is definitely going to become one of your favorites! Who doesn’t love stuffed shells? Get the recipe from I Can Cook That. Yum!

I Can Cook That

8. Freezer-to-Crockpot BBQ Chicken

This unique marinade might sound strange at first (French Dressing? Cranberry Sauce?), but trust us: It all comes together beautifully. And best of all, it can go straight from the freezer to the crockpot. So easy! You can find this recipe from Kristi Clover.

Kristi Clover

9. Burrito Bowl Mason Jar Salads

Forget Chipolte! You can easily prepare a delicious burrito bowl at home with this genius hack from Strictly Delicious,  you can get the meal-prep out of the way on Sunday night, and come home to a fresh, flavorful meal any day of the week.

Strictly Delicious

10. Chicken, Broccoli, Bacon And Potato Bake

This chicken-n-tater bake doesn’t just make a delicious and filling dinner, it is also so easy to prep ahead of time and freeze. If you want, you can double or even quadruple the recipe so that you have several in the freezer. Or you can give one to a friend who just had a baby or who is recuperating from surgery. Nothing says love like a homemade dinner! Get the recipe from Kylee Cooks.

Kylee Cooks

h/t: Greatist


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About the Author
Bridget Sharkey
Bridget Sharkey is a freelance writer covering pop culture, beauty, food, health and nature.

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