Make Ahead Dinner Ideas

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I seem to be in a bit of an afternoon/evening food rut.  It’s been oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and fruit for my snack:


And a frozen pizza for dinner.  We bought four or five frozen pizzas last week and have been slowly working through them.  We split a Trader Joe’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza in half.  It’s such a quick and easy dinner!


Oh, did I mention I smeared Holy Deliciousness Hummus all over my side prior to baking?  It was… delicious.  Obviously.


But now that our frozen pizza stash is nearly finished, I plan to prep some make ahead meals – you know, like casseroles that I can freeze and reheat for dinners throughout the very busy work week.  Don’t get me wrong – TJ’s pizza is good… but so is variety!


Here are a few of my favorite make-ahead recipes.  Know any others that I should try?


Santa Fe Casserole


Baked Polenta Pie


Quinoa Crunch Casserole


And… of course… 1/2 and 1/2 Pizza Dough.  


Because we really can’t get enough pizza!



  • Army Amy* August 10, 2011, 9:28 pm

    I love frozen pizza, too! Lots of these meal ideas sound deelish!*

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey August 10, 2011, 9:32 pm

    I love your quinoa crunch casserole! I have a piece of it in my freezer for a night when things are way too busy!

    I would maybe make a vegan lasagna with tofu as the ricotta “cheese”!

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday) August 10, 2011, 9:32 pm

    I heard the new Rachel Ray mag features an entire MONTH of make-ahead dinners! I haven’t seen it but i’m planning on it 🙂

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 10, 2011, 9:34 pm

    I am the queen of making ahead. Make once, eat twice. Or more than twice. Planned leftovers and make ahead meals are the only way working mothers feed their families homemade, hot meals on any consistent basis, I’m pretty sure 🙂 Well, it’s the only way I do!

  • sarah August 10, 2011, 9:35 pm

    for casseroles, i love mac and cheese or ziti with roasted veggies!

  • Emily August 10, 2011, 9:42 pm

    Thanks for the reminder about the quinoa crunch casserole, definitely going to try it!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) August 10, 2011, 9:47 pm

    I looooove pizza! I rarely eat it at home, for some reason 🙁 I’m a huge fan of boiling a pot of beans, making a big batch of quinoa, and keeping them in the fridge for the week. With a base of spinach and a scoop of hummus, it’s a great quick salad!

  • Kristin @ eat healthy. be happy. live well. August 10, 2011, 9:49 pm

    I’m all for making a huge batch of spaghetti with a meaty marinara sauce! If you use brown rice pasta, it is loaded with protein and you can skip the meat if you’d like. I always end up with leftovers and it is super simple to make!

  • Lindsey August 10, 2011, 9:50 pm

    My husband loves any pizza! And since homemade pizza is easy we eat it once a week sometimes! haha

  • Shannon August 10, 2011, 9:57 pm

    Great idea! Can’t wait ton try those meals! They are certainly different from the normal frozen dinner ideas!

  • Sweet and Savvy August 10, 2011, 9:59 pm

    These look great! I never think to prep meals ahead of time.

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen August 10, 2011, 10:00 pm

    I forgot about your quinoa crunch casserole! I wanted to make that when I first saw that post. Definitely adding it to the list now 🙂

  • Brooke @ Tales of a Bride-To-Be August 10, 2011, 10:04 pm

    My fiance and I love the Santa Fe! I made it for him a while back (sneaking in some healthy meat-free dinners) and he loved it. We make it about once a week now, probably one of the best recipes offered on your site (just saying) 🙂

    • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:25 am

      I completely agree 🙂 It’s my fav, too! Thanks so much!!

  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats August 10, 2011, 10:06 pm

    when i make all my lunches ahead of time, I usually do cold salads, like pasta salads or ones with other grains such as tabbouleh

    • Brittany August 11, 2011, 9:49 am

      Agree with this. Orzo salads are great make-ahead lunches!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing August 10, 2011, 10:07 pm

    I almost never get tired of pizza! And I totally agree with an above comment about lasagna.. veggie vegan lasagna!

  • Dennis murray August 10, 2011, 10:13 pm

    Spinach, Pepper, Onion and Cheddar Frittata. Could be make ahead breakfast too!

  • katie @ KatieDid August 10, 2011, 10:19 pm

    I was thinking a quiche of sorts would keep well for a couple days and be tasty reheated. Or even just making eggs for dinner is always my go-to throw together meal when I’m feeling lazy. Also batches of grain based pasta salads- quinoa salad, lentil salads are great for leftovers.

  • Jackie @ Healthy Teen Foodie August 10, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Hey Caitlin! I’ve been reading for a long time but I’ve never actually commented. You inspired me to start my own blog, since I LOVE to cook and be healthy 🙂 My favorite make-ahead meal, by far, is veggie chili. I make a huge batch of it and freeze it, then just put it in a pot or in the microwave for dinner and serve it with brown rice or quinoa! You can find my favorite recipe on my blog!

    • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:24 am

      Hi! Welcome to the blog world Jackie 🙂 I hope you have fun with it!!!

  • ashley @ cooking for john August 10, 2011, 10:32 pm

    i made mama pea’s tempeh tamale pie for the second time tonight, per my fiance’s request, and was thinking that i should make one to freeze when life gets crazy in a month or so. your recipes look great too!

  • Baking N Books August 10, 2011, 10:42 pm

    Thanks for linking the TJ’s pizza – I finally get to see it 🙂 It seems a lot like the Amy’s brand actually – I must try that one. Does the hubby put any “sauce” on his side?

    I also LOVE that you eat frozen pizza. Honestly, it can be good for you and always cooking stuff with a bunch of ingredients is over-rated.

    Casserole’s are a great idea though. I really need to do that soon. Just can’t decide what. I’ve been thinking of a Lentil Walnut Loaf I seen on Jenna’s and OSG – but I always seems to want meat too…maybe I could chop up meat or tempeh and add to it 🙂

  • Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs August 10, 2011, 11:06 pm

    I love making my black bean enchiladas. The leftovers are great and it freezes well (do everything but bake it then pop it in the freezer).

  • emily August 10, 2011, 11:13 pm

    The casserole I link to in this post is seriously my favorite dish of all time and it’s also the easiest thing on earth to make –

  • emily August 10, 2011, 11:16 pm
  • Jen August 10, 2011, 11:59 pm

    YUMMM! I will take one order of each please (through the airwaves, of course). Please rush – I am a great tipper, I promise! 🙂

    • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:23 am

      heheh on it!

  • Katie of Cabbage Ranch August 11, 2011, 12:11 am

    I always like the New Moosewood Cookbook, and the Bulgarian Pepper Casserole is awesome! It’s grain-based, but citrusy and herby and satisfyingly rich. I’ve adapted it a number of ways with great results. Here it is online

  • Beth August 11, 2011, 1:19 am

    Polenta stacks are so good this time of year and GF. Buy a couple tubes of polenta and some fresh zuccini or eggplant. stack polenta with veggies, layers of basil, top with fresh sauce. So light and summery and easy to reheat. Also rice/veggie stuffed sweet peppers!

    • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:23 am

      Now I know what to do with the rest of my polenta!

  • Khushboo August 11, 2011, 1:31 am

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix”–> that snack never gets old! Veggie lasagne is also a great make-ahead meal, as K is vegan, you can use nutritional yeast instead of cheese?

  • Angela @ MyPinkyToes August 11, 2011, 2:02 am

    I’m totally obsessed with pizza, too. I could eat it or chips and salsa every day.

  • Kristin @ STUFT Mama August 11, 2011, 2:11 am

    Ha ha! I’m the queen of make ahead breakfasts! I can’t tell you how many frozen packs of French toast and muffins I have in my freezer. Oops. Oh, and LOVED that you spread hummus on pizza before baking.

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness August 11, 2011, 5:16 am

    That quinoa crunch casserole looks delicious! I must make it myself – looks like a wonderful prepare ahead option. And pizza with hummus? Ridiculous. In a good way, lol! 😛 It’s nice to hear that you get into food ruts too, I know I do! Reassuring, in a way – and I know you’ll inspire me to get out of my rut, too! <3 Take care, lovely! xyx

  • CJ @ August 11, 2011, 5:49 am

    Great ideas! I was just thinking of doing a post on easy pack for work meals because I was getting in a brown bag rut!

    • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:20 am

      Oh yeah! I bet people would love that post.

  • Jumanah @ Healthy Living in the Middle East August 11, 2011, 7:26 am

    Thanks for these fabulous ideas! I am loving the Santa Fe Casserole! Looks delicious!

  • allpointswhole August 11, 2011, 7:41 am

    Do you really eat all of that for snack?

    • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:16 am

      Yup! Really.

      • Caitlin August 11, 2011, 8:16 am

        Calorically, it’s maybe 300 calories?

      • Dani August 11, 2011, 11:03 am


  • Lee August 11, 2011, 7:59 am

    That trader joe’s veggie pizza is fab. We’re big fans of frozen pizza here.

  • Molly @ RDexposed August 11, 2011, 8:15 am

    I failed miserably with your Quinoa Crunch Casserole. Let me know the next time that you make it so I can jet down and find out what it’s supposed to taste like.

  • Kelly August 11, 2011, 8:24 am

    I tried a frozen naan pizza the other day and it was pretty awesome. I really don’t believe in too much pizza.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 11, 2011, 8:53 am

    Your Santa Fe casserole looks so good!

    My favourite make ahead meals are soups and chili. Especially if I freeze some cornbread to go with it. 😀

  • Stephanie August 11, 2011, 9:17 am

    I do the make-ahead meals every once in a while, especially when I know that a very busy time is coming. Have you ever heard of Once A Month Cooking? It’s fantastic…lots of work for one weekend, and then no need to cook for a long time. Plus, it makes you feel very smug and organized, and you just can’t put a price on that. I did it one time last Spring and took pictures here:

    and here:

  • Hillary August 11, 2011, 9:31 am

    You really can’t go wrong with a pot of chili. It freezes perfectly, and it tastes amazing!

  • Janie August 11, 2011, 10:08 am

    I like making home made ravioli and freezing it! It’s really simple to make a quick filling (veggies, some cheese) and wrap in wonton wrappers. And..if you’re feeling adventurous…make pesto now when the basil is good, and freeze that as a sauce for your ravioli! 🙂

  • Amy @ SGTC August 11, 2011, 10:10 am

    I don’t think I have ever met a pizza I didn’t like! Glad to meet some new ones! 😉

  • Kristina August 11, 2011, 10:11 am

    Mark Bittman is pretty much a genius to me. We don’t have “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” but I’ve flipped through it, and as usual, Bittman offers up lots of great recipes that are pretty quick and easy. The Bittman cookbook that I’ve loved is “The Food Matters Cookbook”. It’s not all vegetarian, but he gives lots of vegetarian options for the recipes with meat. This is a tomato cobbler recipe
    The crisp is similar, but instead of a crust, he uses oats, nuts and breadcrumbs to make a topping.

  • Amber K August 11, 2011, 12:08 pm

    I love quick and easy meals. Making up quinoa, bean, and/or millet salads seem to be my go-to’s because they are so simple.

  • Stacey @ Here's to Life August 11, 2011, 12:16 pm

    I’m in a food rut too! Thanks for the recipe suggestions. And I agree you can never have too much pizza! (My fav food…well that and veggie sub sandwiches).

  • Rosa - Fitness, Food, Fulfilled August 11, 2011, 12:43 pm

    Food ruts are so hard to get out of! Maybe it’s this summer weather that does it? I know I don’t want to stand in front of a hot stove!

    That quionoa crunch casserole looks awesome. So going to try this!

  • Charise August 11, 2011, 12:55 pm

    Try the vegan stuffed shells Jenna posted at the pbs blog ( – they are sooo good, and would probably freeze beautifully pre-oven baking. We got 6 filling servings out of it.

  • Ali @ Around the VeggieTable August 11, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I made a healthy version of chilaquiles (basically an enchilada casserole) last week and it was AWESOME. Highly recommend 🙂

  • Sara August 11, 2011, 3:11 pm

    My colleague bought this to work. It was delicious. A yellow squash casserole.

  • ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska August 16, 2011, 1:13 am

    My favorite make ahead and freeze meals are… soups, lasagna, enchiladas, stuffed bell peppers, and cookie dough. Cookies count for dinner some days, right? 🙂

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