Last updated on September 16, 2023 by Liza Hawkins
There’s nothing better than having dinner ready to go on a busy night. Especially make-ahead casserole recipes that can either be tossed in the fridge till dinner the next day, or frozen for weeks (or months)! Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey casserole?
To me, casseroles are one of the best comfort foods out there, and make-ahead casserole recipes are the best. THE BEST!
Scroll down to the end for some of my favorite recipes!
A friend who’s due any day with her second baby recently asked me if I’d help her prep a few freezer meals to tuck away until after the baby’s born.
(For the record, I was not that smart with my food prep. For either child.)
Those of you who’ve raised babies must remember what it’s like those first six to eight weeks after the baby’s born. Every single day is made up of eating, sleeping, diapering, and changing baby clothes. I mean, you barely have enough time to grab a shower, let alone pull together a home cooked dinner — right? Even take-out can seem like a chore…
Welcoming a new baby isn’t the only time make-ahead casseroles can be a lifesaver.
Why You Should Make Casseroles
Even during a regular work week, having something ready-to-go in freezer chest to toss into the oven can be the difference between a harried mess of a night and a calm, relaxing evening.
Plus, they evoke a sense of comfort and familiarity, which is especially appealing folks who appreciate simple, traditional recipes. Casseroles like tuna or chicken noodle casserole, shepherd’s pie, hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole, and baked ziti are classic examples.
Ease of Preparation:
Casseroles are known for their simplicity in both preparation and cooking. This convenience factor is a significant draw for busy home cooks who don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. With casseroles, you can often throw together a few ingredients in a dish, pop it in the oven, and have a complete meal ready without much fuss.
Versatility and Adaptability:
Another reason casseroles are beloved here is their versatility. You can make casseroles with a wide variety of ingredients, which means they’re flexible for various needs. For example, you can create a meat-based casserole for carnivores with a vegetarian or vegan version for non-meat-eaters — just save the meat to layer in as you’re building each casserole dish. Casseroles can be adjusted for those with dietary restrictions, and they can be served at different meals. I love a hearty breakfast casserole! Get creative and customize casseroles to suit your tastes and dietary needs.
Casseroles are often budget-friendly. They typically make use of ingredients that are readily available and don’t require expensive cuts of meat or exotic ingredients. This affordability factor makes casseroles attractive to a wide range of people, including those who are mindful of their food budgets. They also tend to stretch across a few meals! Leftover casserole for lunch is one of my favorites.
Minimizing Food Waste:
Casseroles are also a fantastic way to use up leftover ingredients. For folks who aim to reduce food waste, casseroles provide a perfect solution. You can throw in leftover vegetables, meats, or cheeses, creating a new and delicious meal from what might have otherwise gone to waste.
Sharing and Community:
Casseroles are often associated with potlucks and community gatherings. They’re a dish that can easily feed a crowd, and people enjoy sharing their creations with friends and family. This communal aspect of casseroles adds to the enjoyment of making and eating them, as it fosters a sense of togetherness and shared experiences. They can be a great, simple way to connect with others over a meal.
Creative Flavor Combinations:
While casseroles are rooted in tradition, they also offer room for creativity. You can experiment with different flavor combinations, sauces, and seasonings to put a unique twist on a classic recipe to get a sense of culinary adventure while still keeping the comforting part of the dish in place.
Time Efficiency for Busy Lifestyles:
In today’s fast-paced world, people often struggle to find time to cook elaborate meals every day. Casseroles can be prepared in advance and stored, making them an excellent choice for meal prepping. Have them stocked just because; you don’t even need a reason to have frozen casseroles on hand.
Line up a few make-ahead casserole recipes to prep and freeze so they’re at the ready when the stakes are high. It’s a terrific way to get dinner on the table without also losing your mind (which may happen anyway, but at least you won’t be able to blame the food!).