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49 Make-Ahead Meals for Your Busy Family

Conquer weekly recipe prep with our favorite freezer-friendly, make-ahead meals. Whether you go for cheesy lasagna or slow-cooked stew, your future self will definitely thank you.

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Chicken Cacciatore

This chicken cacciatore recipe makes a good Sunday dinner, since it’s so simple to prepare. This recipe is the best because it’s loaded with lots of vegetables and is a family favorite. —Barbara Roberts, Courtenay, British Columbia

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Turkey Enchilada Lasagna Exps 13x9bz19 46603 C10 09 6b 5

Turkey Enchilada Lasagna

Everyone will devour this layered southwestern casserole when you bring it to the table. It boasts familiar enchilada flavors in every mouthwatering bite. Feel free to use ground beef in place of the ground turkey if you'd like. —Julie Cackler, West Des Moines, Iowa
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2 For 1 Chicken Tetrazzini Exps Cwmas19 21694 E04 04 4b 4

2-for-1 Chicken Tetrazzini

A good friend shared a version of this recipe with me 35 years ago. I pay it forward by bringing the second casserole to friends when they are unable to cook. —Helen McPhee, Savoy, Illinois
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Italian Sausage Rigatoni Bake Exps176885 Fm143298c03 14 2bc  Rms

Italian Sausage Rigatoni Bake

This casserole combines all of our favorite Italian flavors, but the fresh mozzarella really sets it apart! —Blair Lonergan, Rochelle, Virginia
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Mini Sausage Pies Exps Sdas17 186834 C04 07 1b 6

Mini Sausage Pies

The simple ingredients and family-friendly flavor of these little sausage cups make them a go-to dinner favorite. And everyone gets their own pies—which makes them even better! —Kerry Dingwall, Ponte Vedra, Florida
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Barbecue Chicken Sliders

Thanks to rotisserie chicken, these cheesy, smoky sliders are a snap to make on a busy day. The special barbecue sauce really takes it up a notch. —Nancy Heishman, Las Vegas, Nevada
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Perfect Four Cheese Lasagna Exps Frbz19 141786 B02 13 2b 12

Perfect Four-Cheese Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my favorites, and this is the recipe I’ve been making since I was a teenager. It’s a tantalizing combo of pasta, meat sauce, cheese and more cheese that really lives up to its name! —Lauren Delaney-Wallace, Glen Carbon, Illinois
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Sausage & Kale Lentil Stew

I made a pot of this awesome soup when visiting my sister and her family. Now, I'll bring it along when I stop by or pack up a few containers for my nephew, who appreciates a home-cooked meal while he's off at college. —Tiffany Ihle, Bronx, New York
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Pork Bean Rice Burritos Exps Cwmas19 177022 E04 04 2b

Pork, Bean & Rice Burritos

The combination of spices is key to this slow-cooked pork—it's my family's favorite burrito filling. The aroma that fills the air as the pork slowly simmers is like a Mexican restaurant. A perfect recipe for tailgate parties. —Valonda Seward, Coarsegold, California
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Pressure Cooker Pepper Steak

Pepper steak is one of my favorite dishes but I was always disappointed with beef that was too tough. This recipe solves that problem! I've stored leftovers in one big container and also in individual portions for quick lunches.—Julie Rhine, Zelienople, Pennsylvania
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Vegetable Strata

We always serve food at our Bunco games, and since one of us is a vegetarian we like to make fun meatless dishes we can all enjoy. This strata can easily be doubled and tastes fantastic hot or at room temperature. —Doris Mancini, Port Orchard, Washington
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Moroccan Pot Roast Exps Sddj17 198478 B08 10 4b 4

Moroccan Pot Roast

My husband loves meat and I love veggies, so we're both happy with this spicy twist on beefy pot roast. With garbanzo beans, eggplant, honey and mint, it's like something you'd eat at a Marrakech bazaar. —Catherine Dempsey, Clifton Park, New York
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Cheesy Turkey Meat Loaf

Nothing says comfort food better than meat loaf! Get this one started in the morning and you’ll have a fantastic hot meal ready even by lunchtime. —Deanna Martinez Bey, Wake Forest, North Carolina
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Quinoa Unstuffed Peppers Exps Sddj18 206214 D08 08 3b 2

Quinoa Unstuffed Peppers

This deconstructed stuffed pepper dish packs a wallop of flavor. I truly make it all the time, and I make sure my freezer's stocked with single-serve portions to take to work. —Rebecca Ende, Phoenix, New York
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Chipotle Chili Sloppy Joes

My husband didn't like sloppy joes until he tried my rendition with its smoky heat. If you need to dial down the fiery zip, cut down on or eliminate the peppers. —Brittany Allyn, Mesa, Arizona
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Super Easy Country-Style Ribs

I'm a die-hard rib fan. When we were growing up, our mom made these for us all the time, and we still can’t get enough of them. —Stephanie Loaiza, Layton, Utah
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Bacon Cheeseburger Slider Bake Exps Gbbz19 197428 E11 29 2b 6

Bacon Cheeseburger Slider Bake

I created this dish to fill two pans because these cheeseburger sliders disappear fast. Just cut the slider burgers recipe in half if you want to make only one batch. —Nick Iverson, Denver, Colorado
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Stamp Of Approval Spaghetti Sauce Exps Mtcbbz17 39564 D02 24 2b 5

Stamp-of-Approval Spaghetti Sauce

My father is very opinionated, especially about food. This recipe received his almost unreachable stamp of approval. I have yet to hear a disagreement from anyone who has tried it! —Melissa Taylor, Higley, Arizona
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Favorite Chicken Potpie

This is the best chicken potpie recipe! Chock-full of chicken, potatoes, peas and corn, this recipe makes two golden pies, so you can serve one at supper and save the other for a busy night. —Karen Johnson, Bakersfield, California
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Hawaiian Pork Roast

Bananas, liquid smoke and soy sauce flavor this fall-apart-tender pork roast. It's just like the kind I enjoyedat the luaus I went to in Hawaii. —Mary Gaylord, Balsam Lake, Wisconsin
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Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno Exps Thas19 237475 B04 17 7b 20

Five-Cheese Ziti al Forno

After having the five-cheese ziti at Olive Garden, I tried to make my own version of it—and I think I got pretty close. I always double this when I'm making it and freeze the second one for another meal. —Keri Whitney, Castro Valley, California
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Make-Ahead Spinach Manicotti

When I invite people to dinner, many have started requesting this pasta bake ahead of time because it's that good. Plus, the manicotti is stuffed before it's cooked, making it even more convenient. —Christy Freeman, Central Point, Oregon
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Thai Coconut Beef

My husband and I love Thai food, but going out on weeknights can be challenging with busy schedules. I wanted to create a Thai-inspired dinner that could double as an easy lunch the following day. The beef is fantastic in this dish, but chicken or pork would be equally delicious! —Ashley Lecker, Green Bay, Wisconsin
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Chipotle Pulled Chicken

At our house, low-and-slow recipes have to have kid and husband appeal, plus good marks for nutrition. This chipotle chicken wins in both categories. Use leftovers for zippy barbecue pizzas or burritos. —Tamra Parker, Manlius, New York
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Make-Ahead Lasagna

Make-Ahead Lasagna

This is an old standby when time's limited and guests are expected for dinner. It's a combination of several easy lasagna recipes I have tried over the years. —Mary Grimm, Williamsburg, Iowa
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Melt In Your Mouth Chuck Roast Exps Cwon16 41035 C06 29 3b 6

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chuck Roast

My husband and I like chuck roast recipes, so this slow-cooked recipe is terrific. You'll also love how flavorful and tender this comforting beef chuck roast turns out. —Bette McCumber, Schenectady, New York
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Chicken Thighs With Shallots Spinach Exps Sdam19 45682 C12 12 4b 23

Chicken Thighs with Shallots & Spinach

This moist and tender chicken comes complete with its own creamy spinach side dish! It makes a pretty presentation and comes together in no time flat for a nutritious weeknight meal. —Genna Johannes, Wrightstown, Wisconsin
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Hacienda Hash Browns

I use a clear glass dish to show off my hash brown bake. The bold pepper, cilantro, cumin and garlic make this potato-egg casserole extraordinary. —Jeanne Holt, Mendota Heights, Minnesota
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Exps156010 Sd153319b10 07 6b 2

Green Chili Shredded Pork

Pork green chili made in the slow cooker always makes my hungry family happy. Getting creative with the leftovers is part of the fun. —Mary Shivers, Ada, Oklahoma
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Shortcut Sausage Jambalaya

Secret ingredient alert: A pinch of coffee crystals gives my jambalaya its roasty, toasty flavor. This quick and easy dinner is one of my husband’s top picks. —Betty Henagin, Medford, Oregon
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French Canadian Tourtieres Exps Thca19 35549 C08 22 4b 4

French Canadian Tourtieres

This recipe comes from my big sister. Each fall, we get together and make about 20 of these pies to use at Christmas, give as gifts or freeze for unexpected company. —Pat Menee, Carberry, Manitoba
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Exps154576 Th153345c07 22 3b 2

Broccoli-Cheddar Tassies

Our family adores broccoli casserole. I wanted to try it as an appetizer, so I used a pecan tassie recipe for the crust. The result? We’re talking scrumptious. —Gail Gaiser, Ewing, New Jersey
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Mashed Potato Cups

This recipe makes a tasty side dish that's a nice alternative to the standard potatoes or rice. —Jill Hancock, Nashua, New Hampshire
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Chipotle Shredded Beef

This beef is delicious whether you serve it all rolled up in a tortilla, with corn salsa in a burrito, in a bun or over rice or mashed potatoes. So many options! —Darcy Williams, Omaha, Nebraska
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Slow-Cooker Sweet-and-Sour Pork

Chinese food is a big temptation for us, so I lightened up a favorite takeout dish. As the pork cooks, the aroma is beyond mouthwatering. —Elyse Ellis, Layton, Utah
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Simple Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Exps84601 Ufz133197b04 18 1bc Rms 7

Simple Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This chicken enchilada recipe is one of the first dishes I created and cooked for my husband right after we got married. He was so impressed! We fix these creamy enchiladas for friends regularly. —Melissa Rogers, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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Make-Ahead Burritos

We have two children who keep us busy, so I love meals I can just pull out of the freezer. The burritos are wrapped individually so it's easy to take out only the number you need. I serve them with canned refried beans and Spanish rice from a boxed mix. —Jennifer Shafer, Durham, North Carolina.
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Exps58898 Hc163708c10 30 5b 3

Ham & Swiss Potato Casserole

No one will be able to resist the classic trio of ham, Swiss and potatoes in this comforting bake. It was the result of creative experimentation when I wanted to use up ingredients I had on hand. I sometimes replace the ham with turkey ham. —Sarah Wilham, Elkhart, Illinois
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Navy Bean Vegetable Soup

My family likes bean soup, so I came up with this hearty, hammed-up version. The leftovers freeze well for first-rate future meals. —Eleanor Mielke, Mitchell, South Dakota
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Blue Ribbon Beefy Burritos Exps86001 Th143192c02 11 4bc Rms 5

Blue Ribbon Beefy Burritos

I have a son who lives in Mexico, so we don’t see him very often. When I make these burritos, it feels as if he is right there at the table with us, inhaling them. —Marina Castle, Canyon Country, California
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Satay Style Pork Stew Exps Scbz18 49713 C07 10 3b 3

Satay-Style Pork Stew

Thai cuisine features flavors that are hot and sour, salty and sweet. This one-dish pork satay balances all of them using ginger and red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, garlic, lime juice and creamy peanut butter. —Nicole Werner, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Make Ahead Turkey And Gravy Exps132859 Th132104c06 27 3b Rms 3

Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy

Ease the holiday time crunch with a make-ahead turkey recipe that's ready to serve when you are. It's a great choice for potlucks, too. —Marie Parker, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Polish Casserole Exps 13x9bz19 108406 C10 04 10b 8

Polish Casserole

When I first made this dish, my 2-year-old liked it so much that he wanted it for every meal! You can use almost any pasta that will hold the sauce. —Crystal Bruns, Iliff, Colorado
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Chicken Vegetable Fettuccine Exps177496 Fm143298d03 14 1bc Rms 5

Chicken & Vegetable Fettuccine

This is very simple to make when you have cooked a whole chicken and have leftovers. My boys always loved this comfort food, especially after a busy day of hockey! It's nice with a side salad and breadsticks.—Andrea Bergen, Altona, Manitoba
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Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta

The microwave makes quick work of homemade polenta, and the rest is done in one skillet. Save a little Parmesan for sprinkling on top before serving. —Yvonne Starlin, Hermitage, Tennessee
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Baked Nectarine Chicken Salad

This casserole is a fun twist on a classic. Folks love the crunchy chow mein noodles on top. I love that I can make it a day in advance and refrigerate until it's time to serve. Serve with hot bread or rolls. —Faye Robinson, Pensacola, Florida
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Make-Ahead Cabbage Rolls

I've relied on this recipe for years, and my cabbage rolls never fail to impress. As the host of a number of holiday parties, my guests have come to expect this main entree. —Nancy Foust, Stoneboro, Missouri
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Shrimp & Crab Casserole

This quick, easy recipe is truly delicious. The succulent, melt-in-your-mouth seafood flavors and textures make for elegant comfort food. To make ahead, just assemble, cover and refrigerate, then bake when ready. —Jan Bartley, Evergreen, North Carolina
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Hearty Pork & Black Bean Nachos

My husband and I are both graduate students right now, so we don't have a lot of time to cook dinner. Our family loves coming home to this incredible nacho platter, and I love how easy it is to prepare. —Faith Stokes, Chickamauga, Georgia

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