45 Make-Ahead Winter Weeknight Dinners

Updated: Jun. 14, 2024

When the weather outside is frightful, come home to a hot meal. These hearty winter dinners can be prepped in advance, then stashed in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to eat.

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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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Tortellini Soup

This is my favorite soup recipe. It's quick to fix on a busy night and full of healthy, tasty ingredients. It originally called for spicy sausage links, but I've found that turkey sausage, or even ground turkey breast, is just as good. —Tracy Fasnacht, Irwin, Pennsylvania

Also check out these healthy winter soups that’ll fill you right up.

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Sausage-Rice Phyllo Casserole

I created this recipe to use up the ingredients I had stocked in my cupboards. You can mix up the herbs and spices to fit any taste. Add rosemary or cayenne to give it a little more kick. —Jenn Tidwell, Fair Oaks, California
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Kung Pao Sloppy Joes

What happens when you combine two favorites into one easy dish? Clean plates, that’s what! My family loves Chinese food, but takeout can be expensive and not always the healthiest. This colorful stovetop sloppy joe recipe will please everyone at dinnertime, including the kids. My husband prefers to skip the bun and eat it over brown rice or rolled in lettuce wrap. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Pork and Green Chile Casserole

I work at a local hospital and another job part time, so I'm always on the lookout for good, quick recipes to fix for my family. Some of my co-workers and I exchange recipes. This zippy casserole is one that was brought to a picnic at my house. People raved over it. —Dianne Esposite, New Middletown, Ohio
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Ham & Swiss Stromboli

This is an excellent dish to take to someone for dinner. It's also easy to change up the recipe with your favorite meats or cheeses. —Tricia Bibb, Hartselle, AL
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Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

I like to sprinkle chicken stew with toasted almonds or cashews and serve with hot couscous. Flavored with cinnamon and a touch of sweetness from the apricots, this pretty dish will stand apart from the rest at potlucks, too! —Angela Buchanan, Longmont, Colorado
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Three-Cheese Jumbo Shells

I love cooking, but I'm not into fancy gourmet foods. I think it's more challenging to make delicious, down-home foods like this beefy casserole with ingredients easily found in the refrigerator and on my pantry shelves. —Marjorie Carey, Alamosa, Colorado
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Apple Cider Pulled Pork

For potlucks and tailgates, we slow-cook pork with cider, onions and spices. These tangy sliders make a winning barbecue plate with sweet potato fries. —Rachel Lewis, Danville, Virginia
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Chicken and Swiss Stuffing Bake

I love to cook but just don't have much time. This casserole is both comforting and fast, which makes it my favorite kind of recipe. I serve it with a green salad. —Jena Coffey, Sunset Hills, Missouri
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Sweet-and-Sour Beef Stew

This chunky meal in a bowl makes terrific use of nutrient-packed vegetables. It has a deliciously sweet and tangy taste. —Frances Conklin, Cottonwood, Idaho
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Broccoli Tuna Casserole

When I was in the Navy, a co-worker's wife shared this recipe with me. I’ve tweaked it over the years, but it still brings back memories of my family away from home. —Yvonne Cook, Haskins, Ohio
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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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Hearty Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

This creamy, cheesy casserole is so hearty that second helpings are a must! —Lynne German, Woodland Hills, California
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Pizza Soup with Garlic Toast Croutons

This comforting soup satisfies our pizza cravings. It's super versatile, too, and I sometimes substitute light Italian sausage for the chicken or add a little Parmesan cheese. Go nuts and add all your favorite pizza toppings! —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, TX
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Slow-Cooker Chicken Bog

Chicken bog is a South Carolina tradition with lots of variations (think herbs, spices and fresh veggies), but the standard ingredients remain: sausage, chicken and rice. This slow-cooked rendition is a simple take on the classic. — Anna Hanson, Spanish Fork, Utah
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Matthew's Best Ever Meat Loaf

This mushroom meat loaf is comfort food at its best. Mushrooms, beef stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire and soy sauce help boost the meaty flavor of this classic diner staple. —Matthew Hass, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin
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New England Lamb Bake

This dish is hearty and perfect for warming up on a chilly winter evening. The aroma is almost as delightful as the dish itself. —Frank Grady, Fort Kent, Maine
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Spaghetti Meatball Supper

It was such a joy to come home and find my mom making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. This recipe has always been dear to my heart. —Debbie Heggie, Laramie, Wyoming
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Sausage Spinach Turnovers

One Christmas, I gave these tasty meat pies to our neighbors as gifts instead of sweets—they loved them! The handheld pies make a handy take-along lunch. I freeze the leftovers and reheat them later in the microwave when I need a quick meal. —Vicky Henry Aurora, Colorado
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Beef Barley Soup with Roasted Vegetables

The beauty of this soup is that you can roast the vegetables separately in the oven while it's simmering away. Then simply add them in during the last minutes on the stovetop. I love that the roasted vegetables keep their own bright flavors that add to this earthy bowl of warmth. —Gayla Scott, West Jefferson, North Carolina
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Bistro Beef Barbecue Sandwiches

These zippy barbecue sandwiches make for fun late-summer dinners and are perfect for potluck gatherings, too. The coleslaw topping adds the perfect tangy crunch. —Gilda Lester, Millsboro, Delaware
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Pepperoni Pan Pizza

I've spent years trying to come up with the perfect pizza crust and sauce, and they're paired up in this recipe. I fix this crispy, savory pizza for my family often, and it really satisfies my husband and sons. —Susan Lindahl, Alford, Florida
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So-Tender Swiss Steak

This fork-tender Swiss steak with rich gravy was an often-requested main dish around our house when I was growing up. Mom took pride in preparing scrumptious, hearty meals like this for our family and guests. —Linda McGinty, Parma, Ohio
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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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Roast Beef and Gravy

This slow-cooker roast beef and gravy is unbelievably easy. On busy days, I put this main dish in the crock and forget about it. My family likes it with mashed potatoes and fruit salad. —Abby Metzger, Larchwood, Iowa
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Saucy Chicken & Tortellini

This heartwarming dish is something I threw together years ago for my oldest daughter. When she's having a rough day, I put on the slow cooker and prepare this special recipe. —Mary Morgan, Dallas, Texas
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Comforting Beef Stew

This slow-cooked beef stew just screams comfort to me. It's also family-friendly—my toddlers gobble it right up! —Courtney Percy, Brooksville, Florida
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Cranberry Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

Whether canned or homemade, cranberry sauce delivers a healthy dose of vitamins to this dish. A little bit sweet, a little bit smoky, these enchiladas are a delightful way to use leftover chicken or turkey. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, Maryland
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Chicken & Cheddar Biscuit Casserole

I always get rave reviews when I bring this casserole to my son's Cub Scout meetings.This is the perfect comfort meal after a long day. —Sarah Phillips, East Lansing, Michigan
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Louisiana Jambalaya

My husband helped add a little spice to my life. He grew up on Cajun cooking, such as Louisiana jambalaya, while I ate mostly meat-and-potato meals. —Sandi Pichon, Memphis, Tennessee
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Veggie Calzones

Bread dough makes it a breeze to assemble these savory turnovers. If you have a favorite pizza dough, use it instead. These freeze well and once they are frozen, they can be heated in half an hour. —Lee Ann Lowe, Gray, Maine
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Pasta Fagioli al Forno

The name of this Italian-inspired dish means "baked pasta with beans." But my busy family translates it as "super satisfying dinner." —Cindy Preller, Grayslake, Illinois
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German Meatballs

This is one of our favorite main dishes. Because we raise our own pork and beef, the meat we use is always freshly ground. For variety, these meatballs can be cooked with a sweet cream gravy or steamed with tomatoes. But we prefer them with homemade sauerkraut. —Iona Redemer, Calumet, Oklahoma
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Sausage Bread Sandwiches

I make these sandwiches in my spare time and freeze them so they’re ready when needed, such as for tailgating parties when we attend Kansas State football games. —Donna Roberts, Manhattan, Kansas
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Steakhouse Soup

Enjoy a steak dinner in a bowl with this super simple, hearty steak soup. Because of the chili powder and cayenne pepper, it packs a little heat, but the recipe can easily be adjusted if you’re cooking for young ones. —Erica Schmidt, Kansas City, Kansas
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Four-Cheese Sausage Rigatoni

To make this twist on traditional baked pasta, we start with creamy goat cheese and build from there with mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. —Teresa Ralston, New Albany, Ohio
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Stuffed Chicken Rolls

Just thinking about this dish sparks my appetite. The ham and cheese rolled inside are a tasty surprise. Leftovers reheat well and make a perfect lunch with a green salad. —Jean Sherwood, Kenneth City, Florida
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Chicken Club Casseroles

This chicken club casserole freezer meal is a warm, welcoming casserole that tastes as fresh and creamy after it's frozen as it does right out of the oven! — Janine Smith, Columbia, South Carolina
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Cranberry Sweet-and-Sour Pork

This fresh take on a beloved Asian-style dish is sure to cause a stir at the dinner table. —Gert Snyder, West Montrose, Ontario
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Best 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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Maple-Pecan Pork Chops

For a standout holiday dinner, start with this change-of-pace entree. Begin by simmering the chops in apple juice, then drizzle with sweet maple syrup and top with crunchy pecans. —Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Great Northern Bean Stew

This thick and hearty stew with great northern beans is sure to chase the winter chills away. —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, Texas
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Layered Beef Casserole

On my busy days, I treasure meal-in-one recipes like this. Toss together a salad and dinner is ready in no time. —Dorothy Wiedeman, Eaton, Colorado
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Slow-Cooker Beef Tips Burgundy

Here's a heartwarming classic that's so simple in the slow cooker. Mushrooms, red wine and tender beef make for an easy, elegant supper. —Deanna Zewen, Union Grove, Wisconsin