Robin's Healthy Take: Make-Ahead Casseroles

It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking for yourself, your family or a table of friends, life is easier when you can make a great dish in advance and refrigerate it for another day. It’s no secret I’m a prep-ahead gal, and I do it for two reasons: First, so that I’m not running around the kitchen at the last minute when people are already hungry and second, so I can relax and have a cocktail while dinner cooks.

Whatever your reason for cooking ahead, I’ve got a few recipes for make-ahead casseroles that you can enjoy any night of the week. Oh, and by the way, they’re super-nutritious and lower in calories and fat than their traditional counterparts because I’ve swapped a few ingredients here and there. Check ‘em out, then send me YOUR favorite fridge and freezer-friendly dishes.

Chicken-Asiago Casserole with Rice and Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: Combine 2 cups cooked white or brown rice, 1 pound cubed chicken breasts, 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese and 2 teaspoons dried oregano, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well and transfer mixture to a baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese. Cover with plastic, refrigerate up to 2 days. Remove plastic, cover with foil; bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes; uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, until cheese is golden; top with fresh chopped basil.

Baked Ziti with Seared Zucchini: Cook 1 pound ziti noodles, set aside. Sear 2 sliced medium zucchini in olive oil until golden brown on both sides; set aside. Combine 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon salt-free Italian seasoning. Spoon 1/2 cup of your favorite tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish; top with 1/3 of the cooked ziti, half of the ricotta mixture and half of the seared zucchini. Pour over 1/2 cup of pasta sauce; repeat layers (1/3 of the pasta, remaining ricotta mixture, remaining zucchini and 1/2 cup sauce. Top with remaining pasta, 1/2 cup sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with plastic, refrigerate up to 3 days. When ready to serve, remove plastic, cover with foil; bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes; uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Beef and Corn Casserole With Two Cheeses: Cook 1 pound lean ground beef in a little olive oil until browned and drain fat if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper; stir in 1 1/2 cups salsa, 1 cup frozen white corn, 1 cup shredded 2 percent sharp cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup light sour cream; transfer the mixture to a baking dish; top with 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese. Cover with plastic, refrigerate up to 3 days. Remove plastic, bake at 375oF for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

TELL US: What are your favorite make-ahead dishes?

 Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

You Might Also Like:

Keep Reading

Next Up

Sweet New Takes on Make-Ahead Sangria

But the best thing about sangria is that the possibilities are endless. Get started with this roster of sangria recipes from Food Network.

Make-Ahead Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole — Down-Home Comfort

Grits are easy to prepare, can be a main meal or a side dish, will hold for hours in a low oven and reheat wonderfully as leftovers, even in the microwave.

Healthy Every Week Challenge Week 1 Wrap-Up: 4 Make-Ahead Breakfast Ideas

Blogger Monique Volz from Ambitious Kitchen joins us every week in May for a wrap-up of our May Healthy Every Week Challenge. This week: breakfast.

Robin's Healthy Take: Healthier Chips

Deep-fried chips are out; healthy, baked chips are in, like Robin Miller's kale chips, maple sweet potato chips and curried potato chips.

Robin's Healthy Take: Zucchini

Robin Miller's healthy recipes for zucchini and summer squash.

Robin's Healthy Take: Healthy Food Pairings

Sometimes your favorite foods taste better together. Robin Miller's salad recipes pair unusual foods together and the result is unforgettable (and delicious!).

Robin's Healthy Take: Spice it Up

Use up exotic spices like cardamom and Chinese 5-spice powder in Robin's easy, healthy recipes for a chicken main dish and spiced rice pudding.

Robin's Healthy Take: Creamed Vegetables

You don't need loads of butter and cream to make creamy vegetables. Robin Miller's recipes for creamed corn and spinach are creamy but not heavy.

Robin's Healthy Take: Hugs and Quiches

For a healthy breakfast, brunch, lunch or even dinner, make a quiche. If you're looking to save time, make it ahead, you can refrigerate it for up to two days.

Robin's Healthy Take: Coconut Shrimp

Robin puts a healthy spin on coconut shrimp for less than 200 calories per serving.