11 Meal Prep Ideas That Will Save You Plenty of Time in the Kitchen

·3 min read
Italian pasta ingredients on the pink background knolling
Italian pasta ingredients on the pink background knolling

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Meal prep may sound tedious, but once you get into the groove of planning, or at least semi-planning, meals in advance, you'll see why so many people love to plan ahead! Whether you want to go ahead and make a week's worth of meals, or just a central protein or ingredient that can be repurposed in various ways, start your meal prep journey with these easy recipes.

The dishes are mainly hands off, last for days in the fridge or even longer in the freezer, and are even better reheated once you put in the initial kitchen time. Keep reading for several meal prep ideas to make your life much easier and more delicious.

RELATED: 35 Quick and Easy Recipes to Make for Dinner Tonight

Macaroni and Cheese

A pan of baked mac and cheese is the ideal make-ahead lunch, dinner, or side dish. Heat it all up or slice out a serving to quickly microwave and enjoy.

Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Part lasagna, part ziti, this cheesy, saucy meal can be prepped in individual baking dishes or in one large one. Bake it as you're ready to eat it, or just cook the whole tray and work through it as desired.

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti
Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

A rotisserie chicken stretches into a meal that will last a week in this decadent casserole that's ideal for advance meal prep. Throw in some frozen peas, broccoli florets, or edamame to up the veggie content.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Gochuchang Braised Brisket

A braised brisket can go a long way, especially if you freeze half a batch of this Korean-inspired recipe for another time. Enjoy your reheated brisket as a sandwich, with quick-cooking rice, noodles, or rice cakes, or really however you're inspired to eat this beef.

Gochujang Braised Brisket
Gochujang Braised Brisket

Whole Grain Minestrone

Replacing pasta with farro in this veggie-based soup recipe helps the grain stand up to the broth after days in the fridge or freezer. It's ideal as a packed lunch in a thermos or a quick dinner for busy nights.

Whole-Grain Minestrone Recipe
Whole-Grain Minestrone Recipe

Zucchini Parmesan Frittata

Making a frittata to sit in the fridge and eat as your craving hits is perfect for busy cooks. Bake up this egg dish at the start of the week and slice some for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. It can be enjoyed cold and reheated.

RELATED: The Secret to Making a Perfect Frittata Every Time

Zucchini Parmesan Frittata
Zucchini Parmesan Frittata

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

Plant-based soup is always a good idea to have on hand. Whip up a big batch for quick meals, and if you don't get through it all, just freeze the rest.

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup
Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

Lemon Coriander Roast Chicken

Roasting two chickens at once yields double the meals, and the opportunities for this flavorful, juicy chicken are seemingly endless. Use the leftovers to top salads, sandwiches, or grain bowls, fold into quesadillas or cold wraps, stir into soups, and more.

Double Roasted Chicken Recipe
Double Roasted Chicken Recipe

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

These peppers are easy to prep and then cook for about 40 minutes in the oven. Cook them for slightly less time if you plan on reheating, and enjoy the bounty of your prep with a quick reheat.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Mason Jar Salad

Prep these one- or two-serving jarred salads to bring on the go. The trick is layering ingredients by texture and density, so nothing gets muddled or too mushy.

Mason jar salad
Mason jar salad

Easy Pork Dumplings

There's a little legwork (okay, handwork) involved in folding dumplings, but make it a family project and fill your freezer with homemade dumplings to steam or fry whenever the craving hits. No need to defrost!

RELATED: How to Cook Ramen, According to Professional Chefs

Easy Pork Dumplings
Easy Pork Dumplings