Make-Ahead Dinner Lifesavers to Fix Now and Eat Later

Sundays are for a lot of things: watching football, helping hammer out homework and maybe even doing some dreaded laundry. They’re also best spent in the kitchen, when you have a little more time than usual. This week, use your Sunday to get a head start on this week’s dinner by fixing one of our favorite make-ahead recipes that you can cook now and serve later.

Now that summer is technically kaput, we’ve already got stew on the brain. A Sunday can be considered well-spent when Giada De Laurentiis’ hearty Chicken Stew is simmering on the stove, brimming with morsels of chicken, hearty kidney beans and chunky vegetables. Once it’s finished cooking, let it cool down before storing it in the fridge for the makings of an easy-breezy Monday-night meal.

With layers of tender chicken, gooey cheeses, and enchilada sauce made from poblano peppers, tomatillos and cumin, Rachael Ray’s Roast Chicken Enchilada Suizas Stacked Casserole is a fix-ahead winner with a kick of heat. Plus, if you roast two chickens at once, you can use just one for the recipe and save the other for a future meal.

Food_Network_13_022.tif

Food_Network_13_022.tif

Photo by: Anna Williams

Anna Williams

Some recipes get better and better the longer you let them sit in the fridge — and lasagna is one of them. With time, the flavors get a chance to meld together, yielding one totally hearty and flavorful dish when you get the chance to carve into it. Spend the afternoon making Food Network Magazine’s Spinach Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu, which boasts a satisfying meatiness without any meat. Since you can assemble this vegetarian, spinach-laced casserole a day ahead and refrigerate, you can also consider it a weekday win.

Super Sloppy Joes

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Do yourself a favor and cook the meaty ground sirloin filling — spiked with brown sugar and tangy red wine vinegar — for Rachael’s Super Sloppy Joes ahead. That way, all you have to do is reheat it and pile it into soft hamburger buns to enjoy the kid-friendly classic during the week.

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tara Donne, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Maybe we’re a little too excited about getting on the stew train, but we’ve got another hearty recipe that’s a real winner when it comes to do-ahead meal prep. This classic Beef Stew cooks low and slow in the oven until the beef is fall-apart tender and the hearty veggies are enriched with a thick, savory gravy. From there, you can let it cool and consider it Monday’s dinner.

Though “future you” will thank “current you” for your restraint, it’ll be difficult to resist diving into this hearty Three-Bean and Beef Chili as soon as it finishes cooking. Nearing 400 sky-high reviews, it has everything you’d want out of a chili recipe — and it’s good for you too.

For more game-changing ways to get ahead, dig into our favorite big-batch recipe picks that you can make now and freeze for later.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Cook Now, Freeze For Later

Don’t shy away from preparing large amounts of food at once---it can save you time and money! My grandpa will only eat homemade food and when my grandma travels (sometimes for a month at a time!). So she prepares all her beloved homemade cuisine and freezes it in single-serve containers, from meatballs to stuffed peppers to meatloaf. Here are some great dishes to freeze and a few words of caution when freezing.

Kitchen Squad: Make-Ahead Dinners

The experts from Food Network and Food52 developed these make-ahead dinners for busy families.

Buy These Fruits Now and Preserve Them for Later

Canning jam is easy enough and means you can be eating summer fruit long past their market-fresh appearances.

10 Make-Ahead Weeknight Dinners (Plus Dessert!)

Too busy to cook during the week? Instead of relying on take-out, prep one of these recipes ahead of time and you'll have a healthy dinner at the ready.

How to Make Your Entire Thanksgiving Dinner Ahead

Food Network Kitchen tested, tweaked and retested to come up with a full Thanksgiving menu that freezes perfectly, down to the whipped cream topping for apple pie.