Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 16, 2011 08:42 AM

Share your make-ahead weeknight dinners

Hi all. I’m searching for recipes for dinners that aren’t super fancy (we’re talking your average night at home for a family of 4) that can be made, at least for the most part, the night before and then cooked or reheated the next evening. DH and I both work full time and with 2 little ones it is tough enough to turn on the oven sometimes without worrying about one kid climbing into the dish washer and the other trying to ride the dog (Mommy, she’s not a dog, she’s a fire engine!). Anyway, we eat pretty much everything (I try and do one vegetarian and one fish meal a week and we stay away from too much red meat). We LOVE ethnic food and we are not afraid of spice or of crock pots.

I imagine there are others on here in the same boat – anyone want to share some make ahead meals with me?

I’ll go first. Last night we ate a spinach and mushroom bread pudding that I assembled the night before but baked when I got home from work yesterday. Here is the recipe (somewhat adulterated from a 365 Ways to Cook Vegetarian cook book):


1 pound mushrooms
16-20 oz of thawed, frozen chopped spinach (make sure you've really squeezed all the water out first)
1 small onion
4 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 cup shredded cheese
15 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed, cut into 4 squares each
salt, pepper, nutmeg
(its good with hot sauce too)


Sautee a small chopped onion and a pound of sliced mushrooms in EVOO or butter on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Add spinach and cook for another minute or two. Add a little salt and pepper. Set aside.

Whisk together 4 eggs, 2 cups of milk, 1 tsp. nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Layer half of the bread pieces in a greased (I use PAM) casserole/baking dish. Pour half of the spinach/mushroom mix, ½ the egg mixture, and ½ c. of shredded cheese (we used mozzerella but I think the recipe originally called for Gruyere). Repeat.

Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next evening bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 45 minute

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. stuffed shells ...easyyyyyyy easyyyy
    and little kids love them

    1. Some permutation of a ragout and polenta. Bake the polenta during the weekend, maybe stirring in whatever hard cheese is in the fridge. Pour into a loaf pan and chill. The ragout is veggies and Italian sausage, usually. Just head up the ragout and plunk it onto a freshly fried slice of polenta. Sometimes I bake the polenta into sticks. Sometimes I just plunk it in the bowl!

      1. Bumping this thread - I am also searching for make ahead dinners. My husband will be out of town for a couple weeks, so I'd like to have some emergency rations in the freezer for those days when the kids need food RIGHT NOW.

        I'll pre-make some enchiladas and some pasta bake thing, but what other ideas are out there? Any soups/stews that hold up well to freezing?

        1 Reply
        1. re: penelopek

          you can do more or less the same thing with lasagna 'rolls' (just pasta instead of tortilla) and individually wrap 'em for the freezer and easy re-heat.

        2. There are only 2 of us, so I freeze a LOT of meals. Any meat dish, pot roast, chicken dishes, stews, chili, bean soups -- any variety, pasta almost any way, lasagna, enchilada casserole. Stroll through the freezer section at the grocery store and you'll see a huge variety of things that can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, to use as a jumping off point for ideas.

          1. I'll often make extra of specific sauces, then freeze them in bags and write what protein to add on the side. So, I can defrost a makhaki sauce and add shrimp or tofu or chicken to have a quick Indian dinner, or sauce for shrimp and grits (just add shrimp), etc.