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38 Easy Meal Prep Ideas that Make Dinner a Breeze

Spending part of your Sunday prepping for the week ahead will make your future self say, "Thanks, pal!". These easy meal prep ideas are things that can be prepped in advance or frozen to reheat later.

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Unstuffed Peppers

If you like stuffed peppers, you'll love this speedy version. It offers all the comforting flavor of the original, but takes just half an hour. Instead of cooking the instant rice, you can use 2 cups leftover cooked rice if you have it on hand. —Beth Dewyer, Du Bois, Pennsylvania
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Southwest Chicken Dinner

My family loves to order those gigantic takeout Tex-Mex burritos, but they can be expensive and we always have leftovers. I created a lighter, no-guilt alternative with the flavors they love, and that skips the tortilla. —Marquisha Turner, Aurora, Colorado
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Penne and Smoked Sausage

This pasta is a must-try smoked sausage recipe. It just tastes so good when it’s hot and bubbly from the oven. The cheddar french-fried onions lend a cheesy, crunchy touch. —Margaret Wilson, Sun City, California
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Asian Chicken Rice Bowl

This super flavorful, nutrient-packed dish makes use of supermarket conveniences like coleslaw mix and rotisserie chicken. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for large families. —Christianna Gozzi, Asteria, New York
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Veggie Thai Curry Soup

My go-to Thai restaurant inspired this curry soup. Shiitake mushrooms are my favorite, but any fresh mushroom will work. Fresh basil and lime add a burst of bright flavors. —Tre Balchowsky, Sausalito, California
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Chicken Florentine Meatballs

Served over squash and a chunky, mushroom-tomato sauce, these tender meatballs are tops when it comes to great flavor. —Diane Nemitz, Ludington, Michigan
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Korean Beef and Rice

A friend raved about Korean recipes for bulgogi—beef cooked in soy sauce and ginger—so I tried it. It's delicious! Dazzle the table with this tasty version of Korean beef and rice. —Betsy King, Duluth, Minnesota
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Warm Chicken Tortellini Au Gratin Exps Thca18 106616 D01 11 3b 2

Warm Chicken Tortellini Au Gratin

This is one of my favorite recipes. Pasta from Monday plus roasted chicken from Tuesday equals this delicious dish on Wednesday. It's fast and delicious, and paired with a green salad and toasty bread, you have a meal that's fancy enough for company. —Brenda Cole, Reisterstown, Maryland
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Chicken Barley Soup

No question—this is my favorite barley soup! It's so filling that I serve it as a hearty main dish, and I have given the recipe to many of our friends and relatives. It simply tastes too good to keep to yourself! —Diana Costello, Marion, Kansas
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Beef & Spinach Lo Mein

If you like a good stir-fry, this dish will definitely satisfy. I discovered the recipe at an international luncheon, and it's now a favorite go-to meal. —Denise Patterson, Bainbridge, Ohio
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Easy White Chicken Chili

Chili is one of our best cold-weather strategies. We use chicken and white beans for a twist on the regular bowl of red. It’s soothing comfort food. —Rachel Lewis, Danville, Virginia
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Italian Turkey Skillet

It's a challenge to find imaginative ways to use leftovers, especially for turkey after Thanksgiving. Here's a favorite of mine that you can easily make ahead for another dinner option. Prepare the recipe as directed, then transfer to a casserole dish and freeze up to three months. —Patricia Kile, Nokomis, Florida
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Vegetable Noodle Casserole

If you're looking for a filling side dish, this recipe fits the bill. It combines nutritious vegetables and hearty noodles in a delectable cream sauce. Whenever I serve this dish, it gets passed around until the pan is scraped clean. —Jeanette Hios, Brooklyn, New York
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Pasta Fagioli Soup

My husband enjoys my version of this dish so much that he doesn’t order it at restaurants anymore. With fresh spinach, pasta and seasoned sausage, this fast-to-fix soup is a meal on its own. —Brenda Thomas, Springfield, Missouri
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Freezer Burritos

I love burritos, but the frozen types are so high in sodium, I created these. They're a perfect option to have on hand for quick dinners or late-night snacks—I've even had them for breakfast sometimes! —Laura Winemiller, Delta, Pennsylvania
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Cashew Chicken with Noodles

I tried this recipe for chicken with cashew nuts when making freezer meals with some friends. I was smitten! It's quick, easy and so delicious! —Anita Beachy, Bealeton, Virginia
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Mexican Cabbage Roll Soup

I love sharing our humble and hearty soup made with beef, cabbage and green chiles. A blast of cilantro gives it a sunshiny finish. —Michelle Beal, Powell, Tennessee
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Monterey Spaghetti

I'm a working mother with two young boys. Our family leads a very active life, so I make a lot of casseroles. It's so nice to have a hearty side dish the kids will eat. Topped with cheese and french-fried onions, this tasty spaghetti casserole recipe is a hit at our house. —Janet Hibler, Cameron, Missouri
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Contest Winning Stuffed Pepper Soup Exps Cwas18 30059 D04 05  8b 3

Contest-Winning Stuffed Pepper Soup

This is an excellent example of how convenience foods can be combined for a tasty entree. Ready in minutes when I get home from work, this soup becomes part of a balanced meal with a tossed salad, rolls or fruit. For a variation, try chicken, turkey or even venison instead of ground beef. –Tracy Thompson, Cranesville, Pennsylvania
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Pan-Roasted Pork Chops & Potatoes

An easy marinade gives these chops lots of flavor, the crumb coating packs on crunch and Brussels sprouts add nutrition! —Char Ouellette, Colton, Oregon
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Mongolian Chicken

This is a different, fun way to make chicken. It has a lot of flavor and a bit of heat for good measure. —Mary Ann Lee, Clifton Park, New York
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One Pot Spinach Beef Soup Exps Cscsbz19 159230 C04 05 1b 5

One-Pot Spinach Beef Soup

My idea of a winning weeknight meal is this beefy soup that simmers in one big pot. Grate some Parmesan and pass the crackers. —Julie Davis, Jacksonville, Florida
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Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

I got this easy chicken cordon bleu recipe from a friend years ago. I freeze several half recipes in disposable pans to share with neighbors or for when I'm pressed for time myself. —Rea Newell, Decatur, Illinois
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Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup

A good friend made us this rich, comforting, creamy chicken noodle soup after the birth of our son. It was such a help to have dinner taken care of until I was back on my feet. This yummy dish is so simple to fix that now I give a pot of it (along with the recipe) to other new mothers. —Joanna Sargent, Sandy, Utah
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Double-Duty Layered Enchilada Casserole

Here's a heap of cozy comfort. The Taste of Home Test Kitchen took my recipe for chili without beans and turned it into a scrumptious enchilada casserole. —Molly Butt, Granville, Ohio
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Chicken and Chiles Casserole

This casserole makes good use of leftover meat and is very filling. —Lois Keel, Alburquerque, New Mexico
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Vegetable Meat Loaf

I'm not big on leftovers, so I've pared down my recipes to serve two. This meat loaf is simple and quick to prepare, plus it helps you eat your veggies. It's great served with cheddar-topped baked potatoes. —Judi Brinegar, Liberty, North Carolina
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Beef & Tater Bake

The entire family will enjoy this heartwarming, all-in-one dinner. And cleanup is a breeze! —Mike Tchou, Pepper Pike, Ohio
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Pumpkin Sausage Soup

This dish is well suited to my lower-carb way of eating. It's definitely soul food, and I love that it's very simple to prepare. —Paula Diaz, Billings, Montana
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Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Casserole Exps Sdfm17 28900 C09 30 6b 10

Cheesy Cheddar Broccoli Casserole

People who don’t even usually like broccoli casserole beg me to make this comforting broccoli cheese casserole recipe. It's similar to a classic green bean casserole, but the melted cheese just puts it over the top. —Elaine Hubbard, Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania
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Hoisin Sriracha Sheet Pan Chicken  Exps Thfm18 207752 D09 14 7b 6

Hoisin Sriracha Sheet-Pan Chicken

The convenience and simplicity of this chicken dinner make it extra awesome. Feel free to change the veggies throughout the year—the sticky-spicy-sweet sauce is tasty on everything!! —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Low & Slow Pork Verde

My family loves this versatile pork dish. We like to have it over a serving of cheesy grits, but it also goes well with rice or potatoes. Leftovers make an excellent starter for white chili. —Val Ruble, Ava, Missouri
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Contest-Winning Broccoli Chicken Casserole

This delicious chicken and broccoli casserole recipe is a twist on chicken divan that came from an old boss. It’s quick, satisfying comfort food. —Jennifer Schlachter, Big Rock, Illinois
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Best Ever Potato Soup

You'll be surprised at the taste of this rich and cheesy easy potato soup. It really is the best potato soup recipe, ever. I came up with it after enjoying baked potato soup at one of our favorite restaurants. I added bacon, and we think that makes it even better. —Coleen Morrissey, Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania
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Curried Chicken Skillet

This protein-packed skillet dish is loaded with bright flavor. A little curry and fresh ginger make the veggies, chicken and quinoa pop. —Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh, Willimantic, Connecticut
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Chicken Enchilada Bake

Your family is going to gobble up this cheesy, southwestern and easy chicken enchilada casserole…and will ask for it again and again. It’s real comfort food! —Melanie Burns, Pueblo West, Colorado
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Weeknight Taco Soup

This soup turned out delicious on the first try, when I was working without a recipe. You could also add cooked ground beef or cubed stew meat dredged in seasoned flour and browned for a heartier meal. —Amanda Swartz, Goderich, Ontario
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Chicken Zucchini Casserole

A co-worker shared this chicken zucchini casserole recipe that was originally her grandmother's. When I make it, I use pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store and fresh zucchini my neighbor gives me from his garden. —Bev Dutro, Dayton, Ohio

Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.
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