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

In a rush? Try one of these easy meals that can be prepared in advance.

Italian pasta ingredients on the pink background knolling
Photo: Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images

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.

01 of 11

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese
Use a mixture of Gruyère and Cheddar cheeses for more complex flavors. Get the recipe:Macaroni and Cheese. Sang An

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.

02 of 11

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Bowl of lasagna-style baked ziti sitting on a tea towel.
Petrina Tinslay

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.

03 of 11

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Greg DuPree

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.

04 of 11

Gochuchang Braised Brisket

Gochujang Braised Brisket
Greg DuPree

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.

05 of 11

Whole Grain Minestrone

Whole-Grain Minestrone Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

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.

06 of 11

Zucchini Parmesan Frittata

Zucchini Parmesan Frittata
Easier than taking individual egg orders, a frittata is one of our favorite ways to serve eggs for breakfast. This recipe combines crisp-tender zucchini and salty Parmesan cheese, but the possibilities are endless. Try artichoke hearts and rosemary, kale and goat cheese, or even corn and bacon.  Cut into wedges and serve straight from the skillet. Get the recipe: Zucchini Parmesan Frittata. Sheri Giblin

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

07 of 11

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup
Caption goes here. Get the recipe:Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup. Greg DuPree

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.

08 of 11

Lemon Coriander Roast Chicken

Double Roasted Chicken Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

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.

09 of 11

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Stuff colorful peppers with a filling mix of cumin-spiced ground beef, rice, corn, and cheese. Get the recipe for Southwestern Stuffed Peppers.
Jonny Valiant

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.

10 of 11

Mason Jar Salad

Mason jar salad
Lilechka75/Getty Images

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.

11 of 11

Easy Pork Dumplings

Easy Pork Dumplings
Greg DuPree

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

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