7-Day Meal Plan: Easy Make-Ahead Dinners for Fall

By: Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., Digital Meal Plan Editor

Wouldn't it be great if it only took a couple of minutes each night to get dinner on the table? The key to making this dream come true: meal prep. In this make-ahead meal plan, delicious dinner recipes are prepped in advance so only a few steps remain to finish up the meal. Featuring classic fall favorites, like zesty Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes, Slow-Cooker Chicken Soup, and Baked Mac & Cheese, these healthy dinners really hit the spot. A little Sunday meal-prep can make a whole lot of difference during a busy week—be sure to follow the helpful meal-prep tips below.

Sunday Meal Prep = 1½ hours

• Make the Slow-Cooked Ranch Chicken & Vegetables recipe. Start it early, as it needs 7 hours in the slow-cooker.
• Make a double batch of chili and refrigerate. You'll use the chili on Days 2 & 4.
• Pre-chop the veggies for the Veggistrone and refrigerate.
• Prep the Baked Mac & Cheese recipe (through step 4) and freeze.
• Prep the freezer bags for the Freezer Slow-Cooker Chicken Soup.

 

Day 1: Slow-Cooked Ranch Chicken & Vegetables

Slow-Cooked Ranch Chicken & Vegetables

This recipe makes extra to use for the Chipotle Ranch Chicken Casserole dinner on Day 3. Be sure to put enough aside (about 8 cups) so you have what you need for Day 3.

 

Day 2: Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes

Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes

Making the chili in the beginning of the week means this dinner comes together in just a few minutes. Top the sweet potato with your favorite chili add-ons, like fresh diced white onion and spicy sliced jalapeños.

 

Day 3: Chipotle Ranch Chicken Casserole

Chipotle Ranch Chicken Casserole

Using the leftovers from dinner on Day 1 makes this recipe super easy to throw together. Serve with a leafy green salad with vinaigrette to round out the meal.

 

Day 4: Chili Cheese Nachos

Chili Cheese Nachos

Top crunchy tortilla chips with the pre-made chili and toppings of your choice, for a quick and easy dinner. We especially love to add diced avocado, sliced scallions and a dollop of sour cream to these nachos.

REMINDER! Take the Baked Mac & Cheese out of the freezer and defrost in the fridge.

 

Day 5: Veggistrone

Veggistrone

Pre-chopping your veggies for this soup speeds-up the total time it takes to make this recipe. Buy pre-prepped veggies from the grocery store to cut down even further on prep time. Have leftovers for lunch this week, or freeze the soup for up to 6 months. Serve with a slice of crusty whole-wheat bread drizzled with olive oil.

 

Day 6: Baked Mac & Cheese

Baked Mac & Cheese

Prepping this recipe on Sunday leaves just 25 minutes of cook time until dinner is ready. Serve the mac and cheese with a big green salad with vinaigrette.

 

Day 7: Slow-Cooker Freezer Chicken Soup

Freezer soup

Not only does this chicken noodle soup recipe utilize the crock pot for a set-it-and-forget-it easy dinner, you can also prep all the ingredients ahead of time and store them away in the freezer to pull out when you need an already-made dinner. That's a meal-prep win! Freeze the prepared bags for up to 3 months and defrost in the refrigerator for 1 day before cooking.

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