20 Easy, Make Ahead Dinners For All Ages


These are our favorite 20 most well-tested, freezable dinner recipes when it comes to getting a good meal on the table. Not only are these make ahead meals family-friendly, but they are also made with mostly real food ingredients that you can feel good about.

20 Easy Make Ahead Dinner for Families

It’s hard to find simple meals that please all ages and aren’t filled with processed junk. I’m here to help!

As a working mom of three who spends my evenings running around to kid practices now, I still want to make dinner at home a priority. These 20 easy, make ahead dinners have saved the day many times over.

All of these recipes include freezer meal instructions, which simply means you can prep ahead, freeze, and cook them when ready.

Here are 3 ideas for how to make your life smoother by prepping these dinners ahead and using your freezer:

1) Double Up: Make one of these recipes tonight and freeze another for later.

2) Prep on the Weekend: Make a few of these over the weekend to freeze and have on hand.

3) Cook with Friends: Gather some friends and throw a Freezer Party and stock each other’s freezer just in time for the school days ahead!

Be sure to grab our cookbook for 75+ more thoroughly tested make-ahead meals that your family will love! Take a peek at what to expect. You won’t believe all of these healthy, family-friendly meals can be frozen for later.

Which one of these 20 easy, make ahead dinners sound good to you? Let us know in the comments!

20 Easy, Make Ahead Dinners That Your Family Will Love

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Sliders

The classic Chicken Parmesan is made easier by serving it on a slider roll. With less than four ingredients, you’ll have this on the table in no time.

chicken parmesan sliders sandwiches

Baked Italian Meatballs

This 30 minute meal has been a staple in our house for years. Perfect every time. Serve over whole grain spaghetti or as Meatball Subs.

Baked Italian Meatballs are a 20 minute meal staple in our house! Perfect every time. #freezermeal #realfood

Beefy Baked Ravioli

This fake-out lasagna is very easy to make, super filling, and freezer friendly. My kids love this meal!

Beefy Baked Ravioli

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Here’s our most popular recipe on the blog of all time! This casserole takes minutes to throw together and only a few ingredients. You’ll see why others love it.

Cheesy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

These cheesy chicken and black bean enchiladas are the perfect meal idea for large groups or a family dinner. With the chicken, beans, vegetables, and whole wheat tortillas, you’re getting some great lean protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Cheesy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese

Don’t feel like eating out? Make this simple soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, and you’ll feel like you are at a restaurant.

Tomato Bisque

From Freezer to Table Cookbook

Oven Fried Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Skip the messy dredging and breading process of most chicken tender recipes with this easy shake-and-bake one. The oven-fried method produces a crispy, yet healthy version that rivals any deep-fried nugget.

Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Southwest Burrito Bowls

These Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls proved to be an entire family pleaser, especially because it is a pick-and-choose what goes in your bowl recipe. Not only did it taste delicious, but this meal is so simple to pull together and double to freeze for later.

Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls

 Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

On top of Cream Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes, this roast has the best flavor. In fact, one kid I know took one bite and declared “this is better than candy!” True story.

Balsamic Shredded Beef

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

These miniature patties of goodness fit every value I have for a family meal: Tasty? Check. Kids like them? Check. Easy to make? Check. Healthy? Check. Freezable? Check.

mini chicken burger recipe

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

This casserole won my husband’s heart over when we were dating. Well, I think our relationship has a bit more depth than that…but he did love Cheesy Chicken Casserole then and still asks for it today 17 happily-married years later!

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Pesto Burgers

Because the pesto has some olive oil and other veggies, it brings some extra moisture and tenderness to this burger. Texture and flavor = nom nom.

Pesto Burgers

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki

This can be whipped up in no time. Serve on top of Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce and you’ll have dinner perfection.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

These are family-tested and kid-approved. Make these for your next dinner party and you’ll have a home run.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

Ham & Cheese Sliders

These salty-sweet sandwiches are cheap and easy to make in mass quantity. Adults love them. Kids love them. Everyone loves them. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked for this recipe.
Ham and cheese sliders

Hearty Baked Penne Pasta

This recipe makes a TON. Families love the hearty, beefy, cheesy pasta. Serve it with some garlic bread and a salad and you’ve got a great meal that will feed an army (and leave leftovers for the next night). You could also assemble this pasta, divide it into two 8×8 pans, bake one, and freeze the other. It makes a GREAT freezer meal. Just be sure to undercook the noodles a tad if you’re going to freeze it.

Baked Penne Pasta

Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Sandwiches

These bad boys cook in the slow cooker which is great in the summer because you’re keeping your kitchen cool. The magic to this easy freezer meal is in the homemade BBQ sauce. It’s a great recipe for a crowd too!

Shredded BBQ Beef Sandwiches

Learn to prepare delicious, healthy, stress-free meals for the family that go from freezer to table in no time!

English Muffin Pizzas

Here’s a fun twist on pizza that’s actually on our blog and in our cookbook: Freezer-Friendly English Muffin Pizzas! Kids have fun assembling these and they make a perfect last minute meal to pop out of the freezer when you’re in need of a quick meal.

English Muffin Pizzas are easy, kid-friendly, and freezable.

Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce

Here is a vegetarian freezer meal option that you’ll love. Use up those veggies in the fridge or freezer and make a huge batch of this Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce. It freezes beautifully!

Fried Rice with sweet soy sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub

This freezer friendly pork tenderloin recipe is a no-fail freezer meal. We’ve been making this on weeknights or to serve at holidays for over a decade. It’s that versatile. Either bake this is for about 20 minutes or use the 7-6-5 method when cooking it on the grill.Pork Tenderloin with seasoned rub

Cranberry Balsamic Baked Chicken

The delicious combination of the tangy balsamic with the sweet maple syrup and cranberries will make this chicken dish a family favorite.

The Best Freezer Meal Resource

Although we love the recipes from our blog like the ones above, we actually spent over a year painstakingly developing, testing, and retesting over 75 new, freezer-friendly recipes for our cookbook called From Freezer to Table (Rodale Books).

From Freezer to Table Cookbook

All of the recipes in From Freezer to Table are delicious, made from whole foods, are easy to prepare, and can be made fresh or frozen for later. Plus, every recipe includes freezer meal instructions. Our cookbook is a beautiful resource you will pull out again and again! (Scroll below for a sneak peek of a few favorites from the book.)

Shrimp Curry Bowls might just be my (and my 8-year-old daughter’s) favorite recipe in the whole book. Get ready for a Thai party in your mouth…

Shrimp Curry Bowls from From Freezer to Table Cookbook. Order book at fromfreezertotable.com today!

Is breakfast your thang? We’ve got tasty whole foods breakfasts that will be waiting for your family on those hurried mornings. The Chocolate Zu-Nana Waffles are a guaranteed kid-favorite…

Chocolate Zu-Nana Waffles from From Freezer to Table cookbook. Order today at www.fromfreezertotable.com.

And Mixed Berry Scones, made with whole wheat and all good-for-you ingredients, will knock your socks off and start your day off right…

Mixed Berry Scones from From Freezer to Table cookbook. Order your copy today at www.FromFreezerToTable.com.

Last but not least, you’ll find family favorites that are quick and easy for weeknights but work just as well for dinner guests. Crispy Chicken with Lemony Butter Sauce is an elegant and mouth-watering meal you’ll make again and again…

Crispy Chicken with Lemony Butter Sauce from From Freezer to Table cookbook. Order your copy today at www.FromFreezerToTable.com.

In From Freezer to Table, we also teach you how to make freezer cooking a lifestyle either on your own or with friends, so that you can enjoy healthy, stress-free meals around the table with your loved ones. Order your copy today.Learn to prepare delicious, healthy, stress-free meals for the family that go from freezer to table in no time!

What kind of containers do you store freezer meals in?

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We recommend using a BPA-free container or dish. While it may be easier to buy the disposable Glad ovenware containers, it really makes sense to stock up on some quality, safe dishes that you can bake AND store in. After searching long and hard, we highly recommend and use these containers below. We both have collected a huge stash of them over the years!

8 inch Square Glass Baking Dish with Lid
What should I freeze meals in? Here are some of the best freezer containers we have found!

3 Quart Glass Baking Dish with Lid

Looking for the best container to store freezer meals in? Look no further! Here are the best freezer containers that we can find.

Here is a picture of them in use.

Baked Penne Pasta Recipe--Freezer Friendly!-10

A few reasons I like these:

  1. Glass is a natural, non-porous material.
  2. Glass cookware doubles as food storageware.
  3. Glass is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
  4. The clear lid allows easy visibility to your food.
  5. Because they are oven and microwave proof, you can cook, heat, and store your food all in one dish.
  6. Flat top allows for easy stacking.
  7. They are VERY affordable.

Get yours now!

Help with Family Dinner Time

Lastly, if you’re recipe hunting, my guess is that you value time with your people around the table. To maximize that precious time you have together, we have created Table Talk Cards. Each set of 40 questions was designed with a specific age group in mind: Preschool, Elementary, or Tweens & Teens. I have no doubt that having these at your dinner table would spark some great conversation. Learn more about Table Talk Cards here!Table Talk Cards


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