13 Make-Ahead Casseroles That Guarantee Easy Weeknights

Everyone struggles to get a home-cooked meal on the table every now and then, even if you love cooking. Sometimes overbooked schedules simply get in the way, so it’s worth arming yourself with some meals you can make during the weekend and stash in the fridge or freezer for the upcoming week. And these 13 recipes deserve to join your repertoire. When you get home from your chaotic day, all you have to do is preheat the oven, wait for your meal to heat up, then get ready to chow down. Now, if only there were a way to streamline the dinner cleanup.

1. Onion-Topped Sausage ‘n’ Mashed Potato Casserole

hot sauce Bolognese in a frying pan

Sausage and tomato filling | iStock.com/ALLEKO

For Italian food fans looking to try something other than pasta, this potato and sausage bake from Southern Living is a phenomenal choice. It’s packed with flavor thanks to turkey sausage, a blend of Italian cheeses, and pre-made garlic mashed potatoes. We particularly like the added crunch from the crispy onions.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 (19.5-ounce) package sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in sauce
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free garlic-and-herb seasoning
  • 1 (24-ounce) packaged refrigerated garlic mashed potatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded Italian five-cheese blend
  • ¼ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup French fried onions

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon until well browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain excess fat, then stir in tomatoes, basil, shallot, and garlic-and-herb seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly greased 11-by-7-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir potatoes, cheese, and Italian seasoning until well combined. Spread over sausage mixture. Transfer to oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbling. Sprinkle onions over top and bake for another 5 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

2. Shrimp Chili Cornbread Casserole

Bowl of sausage and shrimp gumbo

Shrimp and cornbread casserole | iStock.com/Warren Price

If you’re a seafood lover, this casserole from Eating Well is sure to become a go-to. It has everything you need for a complete meal including shrimp, zucchini, and a tasty cornbread topping. You can even up the flavor by adding some mix-ins, such as cheddar cheese, bacon, or scallions, to the cornbread.

Though not every seafood counter will always have the right size shrimp stocked fresh, you don’t have to throw in the towel. Just head to the freezer section. Once home, you can quickly thaw the shrimp by setting the bag in the sink and running cool water over it.

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1½ pounds (41- to 50-count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Topping

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup nonfat milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions: Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy, deep pot. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add zucchini and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to combine. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Remove pot from heat, then stir in shrimp and cilantro. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt to combine in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk milk, egg, oil, and honey to combine. Add to dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Use a spoon to drop dollops of cornbread mixture over filling.

Transfer casserole to oven and bake, uncovered, until top is browned and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve.

3. Make-Ahead Turkey Manicotti

cheesy, meat-filled manicotti

Manicotti with red sauce | iStock.com/EzumeImages

A baked pasta dish during the week? When you make this manicotti from Better Homes and Gardens, it’s completely doable. If you don’t have any cooked turkey on hand, you can just as easily use a rotisserie chicken from the store. Heads up: If you want to make this way in advance, tightly cover it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer. The night before you plan to bake it, transfer the dish to the fridge so it can thaw.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 manicotti shells
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked turkey
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ (8-ounce) container cream cheese spread with chives and onion
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions: Cook manicotti according to package directions in a pot of salted, boiling water. Drain, rinse with cold water, then drain once more. Meanwhile heat oil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in tomatoes, wine, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Combine turkey, half of mozzarella, ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir well to combine, then use a small spoon to add about ¼ cup of filling to each shell. Arrange shells in an ungreased, 3-quart casserole dish. Pour sauce over top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours, if desired.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes, or until heated through. Let stand for about 10 minutes, then serve.

4. Butternut Squash Casserole with Leeks, Prosciutto, and Thyme

close-up of a casserole with squash and herbs

Butternut squash casserole | iStock.com/Lilechka75

This hearty dish from Food & Wine is more or less a strata taken to a whole new level. It can serve as a side dish, but it also does well as a main dish if you toss together a quick salad. This casserole also takes well to other meats and cheeses. Try a combination of cooked bacon and Gruyère.

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2½ cups half-and-half
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces baguette, crusts removed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or butter. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil and all the thyme in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 25 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium skillet, melt butter with remaining oil over medium heat. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until tender. This will take about 20 minutes. Let cool briefly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, half-and-half, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in bread and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Fold in squash and prosciutto. Transfer to prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until top is golden. Let sit for 15 minutes, then serve.

5. Black Bean Turkey Enchiladas

cheesy enchiladas with red enchilada sauce

Enchiladas with red sauce | iStock.com

If you’ve ever been tasked with bringing an entrée to a midweek potluck, you know how daunting it can be. Whether it’s for a school function or a fundraiser, those types of events are big enough that the dishes need to serve a lot of mouths. Make things easier on yourself with these turkey and bean enchiladas from Taste of Home, which makes enough to feed 14. You can make the casseroles way in advance, then keep them stashed in the freezer. Consider mission potluck accomplished.

Serves: 14

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium taco seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilis
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 14 whole-wheat tortillas, warmed
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans enchilada sauce
  • Minced fresh cilantro
  • ¾ cup reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large nonstick skillet set over medium heat, cook turkey, onion, taco seasoning, cumin, and pepper until no pink remains. Stir in cream cheese and half of cheese. Add beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, and salsa and stir well.

Add ½ cup turkey filling to center of each tortilla, then roll into enchiladas. Transfer each enchilada to one of two 13-by-9-inch baking dishes that have been greased with nonstick cooking spray, seam-side down. Pour enchilada sauce over top, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until hot. Serve garnished with cilantro and yogurt.

6. Slow Cooker Broccoli, Brown Rice, and Cheddar Casserole

Broccoli gratin with cheese

Cheesy broccoli casserole | iStock.com/Lcc54613

Broccoli and cheddar are one of the best food combos we know of. Though they usually appear together as a side, Skinny Ms. makes them main-dish worthy by adding them to a casserole with brown rice. The best part about this recipe is your slow cooker does most of the work. Just make a simple cheese sauce. Then, add it to the crockpot along with the rice, broccoli, and some water. If you’d like a little more heft, stir in some cooked, shredded chicken just before adding the cheese.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1½ cups brown rice
  • 1 pound broccoli florets, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup walnut pieces

Directions: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in flour. Cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Whisk whisking constantly, slowly stream in milk. Continue to cook, stirring until mixture comes to a boil. Cook for 1 minute longer, then remove from heat. Add half of cheddar and stir to combine.

Transfer sauce to slow cooker and stir in rice and broccoli. Add 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Remove lid and sprinkle remaining cheddar and Parmesan over top. Cover and cook for 1 more hour. Serve garnished with walnuts.

7. Freezer-Friendly Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's pie

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

Shepherd’s pie might be the ultimate make-ahead dish. We especially like this version from Joanne of Fifteen Spatulas, featured on The Pioneer Woman, which has tons of veggies and a cheesy potato topping. If you want to make things even easier, purchase some pre-made mashed potatoes at the store. Then, stir in the cheddar. Either way, this dish will be delicious.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1½ cups chopped yellow onion
  • ¾ cup chopped carrot
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

Potatoes

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Brown beef in a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Use a paper towel to mop up excess fat, then add onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add peas and corn and cook for about 2 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted, then add flour, thyme, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in beef stock, bring to a boil, and let cook until beginning to thicken. Remove from heat and transfer to an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, then spread out onto a baking sheet to dry completely. Mash potatoes with cream, milk, butter, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper, then spread over filling.

Transfer casserole to oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until top is golden and filling is hot. Serve. If freezing, let cool, then wrap tightly with foil and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to heat, bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven, covered, for about 1 hour.

8. Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta Bake

Fusilli pasta with mushrooms

Pasta with mushrooms | iStock.com

Just say no to canned soups. This vegetarian pasta bake from Gimme Delicious gets its creaminess from a homemade sauce, not Campbell’s cream of mushroom. Fresh spinach provides healthy nutrients and hearty mushrooms mean you won’t miss the meat. You can use any shape pasta you like in this dish.

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 pound mushrooms of choice, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 cup light cream (or half and half)
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leave

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (if baking immediately).

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Add the butter to a large skillet and melt over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook for 1 minute more.

Add the flour to the pan and whisk for about 1 minute, until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in the vegetable broth and cream. Cook, continuing to whisk constantly, until the liquid is fully incorporated, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, then remove from heat.

Add the cooked pasta to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour the mushroom cream sauce over and toss to combine. Sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese.

If serving immediately, bake the casserole in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

If baking the casserole later, cover and refrigerate. When ready to cook, remove casserole from refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, then serve.

9. Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

bowl of wild rice

A bowl of uncooked wild rice | iStock.com

According to Southern Living, this chicken and wild rice casserole is the perfect side dish for holiday get-togethers, but we think it’s also ideal for a weeknight meal. The casserole freezes well and heats up easily in the oven. Serve it with a simple tossed salad for a no-fuss dinner when you don’t have time to cook.

Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2.25-ounce) package sliced almonds
  • 2 (6.2-ounce) boxes fast-cooking long-grain and wild rice mix
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 5 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 (10¾-ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans chopped water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 4 to 6 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. (Skip this step if you will be freezing the dish to serve later.)

Prepare rice mixes according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add celery and onions. Sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, next 6 ingredients, rice, and 3 cups cheese. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 15-by-10-inch baking dish or 2 (11-by-7-inch) baking dishes. Top with breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with toasted almonds. Bake 5 minutes.

To make ahead: Prepare as directed up to the breadcrumb step. Cover with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 1 month. Remove from freezer, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Toast almonds as directed above. Bake casserole, covered, at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 55 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese and toasted almonds. Bake 5 more minutes.

10. Skinny Shrimp Alfredo Pasta Bake

uncooked shrimp on a plate

Uncooked shrimp | iStock.com

Cheesy, carb-loaded casseroles are a dieter’s nightmare. If you’re watching what you eat but still craving dairy and pasta, check out this lightened up shrimp Alfredo pasta bake from Damn Delicious. Low-fat milk and cheese keep the dish from getting too heavy, and the shrimp is a lighter protein. Plus, the dish can easily be made ahead the night or morning before, then popped in the oven to bake when you get home from work.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

For the Alfredo sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 (6-ounce) can 2 percent evaporated milk
  • 1 ounce light cream cheese
  • ¼ cup chicken broth, or more, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, until lightly browned. Gradually add the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese and chicken broth and cook until smooth, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper and thin sauce with chicken broth if desired.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a baking sheet with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Place the shrimp on the baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Transfer to oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until shrimp are just turning pink and are cooked through. Remove and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.

If you plan to cook the pasta bake immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the shrimp, cooked pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, red pepper flakes, and Alfredo sauce in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

If serving immediate, transfer to oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the top is golden brown and cheese is melted. Otherwise, cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, let pasta mixture come to room temperature, then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley.

11. Make-Ahead Turkey Pot Pie

Turkey pot pie

Turkey pot pie | iStock.com

Sometimes when you get home after a long, stressful day of work, all you want is comfort food. Whip up a few of these make-ahead turkey pot pies from Taste of Home, stick them in the freezer, and you’ll be prepared for just that kind of emergency. You can follow the recipe for these pies exactly as described below, or substitute in other ingredients, such as leftover chicken or different vegetables, if you wish.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • ½ cup diced peeled potato
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ¼ cup butter, cubed
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry

Directions: In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, carrot, potato and celery in butter until tender. Add the flour and seasonings until blended; gradually add milk and broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in turkey and peas; divide mixture among four ungreased 5-inch pie plates.

Divide pastry into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, roll each quarter into a 6-inch circle; place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edges; cut slits to vent.

Cover and freeze potpies for up to 3 months.

Remove pot pies from the freezer 30 minutes before baking. Cover edges of crusts loosely with foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown and filling is bubbly.

12. Cauliflower “Mac ‘n’ Cheese” Casserole

Casserole with cauliflower

Cauliflower and cheese casserole | iStock.com

Gone gluten-free but missing the taste of macaroni and cheese? Then, you’re going to love this faux mac made with cauliflower instead of pasta. This dish from Epicurious can be assembled one day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook, or frozen for up to three months. You can either make a big pan or portion out the recipe into four 2-cup baking dishes for ready-to-heat individual servings.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces mozzarella, shredded (about 1¼ cups)
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (about 1¼ cups), plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (optional)

Directions: Toss cauliflower and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pierce plastic with a knife a few times to vent, and microwave on high 10 minutes. Carefully remove plastic and transfer cauliflower to a colander. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook milk, cream cheese, curry powder, mustard, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth, about 4 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Add cauliflower and toss to combine. Add mozzarella and 6 ounces cheddar and toss to combine — mixture should be cool enough so cheese doesn’t melt. Transfer cauliflower mixture to either 1 (2-quart) or 4 (2-cup) freezer-to-oven-safe baking dishes.

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover dish with foil and bake casserole until heated through and just beginning to bubble, about 45 minutes for large dish, or about 30 minutes for small dishes. Remove foil and sprinkle cheddar over. Heat broiler and broil until top is browned and bubbling, 2 to 5 minutes.

If freezing to bake later, cover dish with an airtight lid or double layer of plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. To cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover dish with foil and bake casserole 45 minutes for large dish, or 30 minutes for small dishes. Remove foil and stir well with a rubber spatula. Continue to bake, uncovered, until just bubbling and heated through, 10 to 15 minutes more. Sprinkle cheddar over. Heat broiler and broil until top is browned and bubbling, 2 to 5 minutes.

To cook individually portioned frozen casseroles in the microwave, partially cover and microwave on high 4 minutes. Uncover, stir, and microwave at 1-minute intervals until heated through, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Top with chives, if using, before serving.

13. Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

Vegetarian lasagna | iStock.com

Lasagna might be the ultimate make-ahead casserole dish. You’ll need an hour to prepare this eggplant Parmesan version from Southern Living, but you’ll thank yourself when you’re wondering what to cook after a long day and remember you have this tasty vegetarian meal in the freezer.

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 2 (26-ounce) jars tomato, garlic, and onion pasta sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1½ pounds)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions: Line a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with heavy-duty nonstick aluminum foil, allowing several inches of foil to extend over sides.

Cook first 3 ingredients in a 3½-quart saucepan over medium-low heat 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

Peel eggplant, and cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle slices evenly with salt and black pepper. Stir together eggs and 3 tablespoons water. Dredge eggplant in flour; dip into egg mixture, and dredge again in flour, shaking to remove excess.

Cook eggplant, in batches, in 1½ tablespoon hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and slightly softened. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant, wiping skillet clean after each batch, if necessary.

Layer 3 lasagna noodles lengthwise in the prepared baking dish. Top with one-third tomato sauce mixture and half of eggplant. Dollop half of ricotta cheese evenly on eggplant in dish; top with half of mozzarella. Repeat layers with remaining noodles, one-third sauce mixture, remaining eggplant, and remaining ricotta. Top with remaining one-third sauce mixture and mozzarella cheese.

Cover lasagna and freeze until firm. Remove from baking dish by holding edges of foil; fold foil over lasagna. Wrap in additional foil, making sure it is tightly sealed to keep out the air. Freeze up to 1 month.

The day before serving, remove lasagna from the freezer. Remove foil, and place lasagna in a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Cover and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 20 minutes before serving (Note: Lasagna may also be baked frozen. Plan to double the baking times.)

Additional reporting by Christine Skopec.