53 Big-Batch Recipes for Easy Meal Prep
We’ve all felt the frustration of not having enough time (or energy) to cook. So when we do get those bursts, why not channel them into big-batch recipes that can be stretched for several meals, ready to pull out of the fridge or freezer? Baked pasta dishes like lasagna and macaroni and cheese are a good place to start; dumplings, meatballs, chicken cutlets, and fish fillets are also easy to portion. Read on for all of those recipes and more, with tips for cooking and scaling to your needs, as well as freezing if applicable.
Soups and Stews
It’s always helpful to have a big pot of soup in the fridge, and better yet, some stocked in the freezer. Dan Kluger’s vegetarian farro and white bean soup makes 18—yes, 18—servings, so you’ll definitely want to keep some frozen in quart containers. You can also freeze the herb oil in portions in an ice cube tray, if you’d like. For a classic beef stew, on the other hand, our slow-cooker version can be doubled from six servings to 12 servings seamlessly. Once it's cooked, it can be frozen, too.
As the name suggests, Swiss Army Stew is designed to yield generous portions, and it’s made with simple ingredients—cabbage, beef chuck roast, waxy baby potatoes, carrots, celery root, and more. Or, try lentil and smoky eggplant stew, which yields 12 servings of food in an hour and a half.
For slightly smaller-batch stews and soups, JJ Johnson's oxtail and white sweet potato stew recipe is luscious, tender, and delicious (enough for four to six servings), and this soothing Yucatán lime and chicken soup also serves six.
Get the Recipe: Farro and White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard and Herb Oil
Get the Recipe: Slow-Cooker Classic Beef Stew
Get the Recipe: Swiss Army Stew
Get the Recipe: Lentil and Smoky Eggplant Stew
Get the Recipe: Oxtail and White Sweet Potato Stew
Get the Recipe: Yucatán Lime and Chicken Soup
The beautiful thing about meatballs is you can make as many (or as little) as you like. Fredrika Stjärne's recipe for Swedish meatballs with a simple cream sauce yields nearly five dozen; if you’re craving tomato sauce, our slow-cooker meatballs serve six. And our Vietnamese lemongrass meatballs and spicy cumin lamb meatballs make easy weeknight dinner solutions. (Double as needed.)
Get the Recipe: Swedish Meatballs
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Get the Recipe: Spicy Cumin Lamb Meatballs
Get the Recipe: Vietnamese Lemongrass Meatballs
Meat Main Courses
Crispy chicken Milanese is delicious on its own, but even better with a butter, sage, and lemon sauce. The recipe calls for eight cutlets, and therefore, produces eight servings—scale as needed. You can always freeze the cooked breaded chicken cutlets and the sauce separately and take them out at your convenience. Pot roast also produces a hefty eight servings, and if you serve it over buttered egg noodles, you can stretch it even further.
Feel free to double the sheet pans in our roasted merguez sausage recipe (it serves four to six) if you want more; for pork, our spice-roasted tenderloin recipe should definitely give you leftovers. And Sana Javeri Kadri's spiced lamb kebabs serve eight. You can batch the patties and freeze them before cooking, and they'll thaw fast.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Milanese with Sage-and-Lemon-Butter Sauce
Get the Recipe: Classic Pot Roast
Get the Recipe: Roasted Merguez Sausage with Apples and Onions
Get the Recipe: Spice-Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Get the Recipe: Spiced Lamb Kebabs with Fresh Herbs
Nigel Slater’s fast, simple baked flounder fillets are just as easy to batch and freeze. Bake them through, let them cool completely, and freeze each fillet individually—wrapped in parchment paper, and then stored in either a resealable plastic bag or plastic wrap. You can also double Susan Spungen's sheet pan salmon recipe to yield 12 instead of six. (Just use two sheet pans, placing them on the upper and lower racks of your oven, and swap them halfway through baking.)
For fans of shrimp, Grace Parisi's shrimp with lemon and dill recipe turns three pounds of shrimp into 12 servings, which could be paired with everything from salads and pasta to warm pita bread.
Get the Recipe: Baked Flounder with Parmesan Crumbs
Get the Recipe: Roasted Honey-Dijon Salmon with Spring Vegetables
Get the Recipe: Shrimp with Lemon and Dill
After testing three different bolognese-style lasagnas, our "Grandma's Lasagna" recipe came out on top. The end result can serve 10 to 12, so you’ll be set for meals for a while—feel free to freeze leftovers in individual plastic-wrapped portions and stash in a freezer bag. You can also try this hearty "Après-Ski Lasagna" (pictured), or go for lasagna puttanesca if you want to avoid meat.
Get the Recipe: Grandma's Lasagna
Get the Recipe: Après-Ski Lasagna
Get the Recipe: Lasagna Puttanesca
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese, like many casseroles, makes a lot of food and freezes well. We love Justin Chapple and Laura Rege’s version with crispy panko breadcrumbs—the jarred pickled pepper garnish can wait in the pantry until you're ready to use it. Grant Achatz's macaroni and cheese, which serves eight, is also tasty and gets a smoky touch from crisp bacon bits. But if you'd prefer smaller, individual portions, give our muffin cup macaroni and cheese a shot. The recipe can make 24 mini muffins or 10 regular-sized muffins, which can be individually wrapped and frozen.
Get the Recipe: Pickled Pepper Macaroni and Cheese
Get the Recipe: Grant's Mac and Cheese
Get the Recipe: Muffin Cup Macaroni and Cheese
Enchiladas are another freezer-friendly dish—simply bake, freeze, and then defrost when you’re ready to eat. We have several chicken enchiladas recipes, but if you’re looking for vegetarian versions, Molly Yeh’s take includes bell peppers and two kinds of beans, yielding eight servings. And while Aarón Sánchez’s cheese enchiladas yield four servings, you can batch them if you need more.
Get the Recipe: Red Chile-Chicken Enchiladas
Get the Recipe: Bean and Cheese Vegetarian Enchiladas
Get the Recipe: Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
The dumplings in George Meza’s Mushroom Dumplings in Katsuobushi Broth recipe can be prepared in batches ahead of time and frozen. Freeze them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and then transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Feel free to serve them with a drizzle of chile oil, or, floating in vegetable broth you already have on hand if you don't have all the ingredients for the Katsuobushi broth. You can freeze them up to one month—boil them from frozen for a quick dinner.
Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz’s recipe for pork and chive dumplings also freezes well, and though it already yields 40-50, you can double it. Or, try Anya Kassoff’s Russian-style dumplings packed with seasonal veggies, which will give you 60-65 total.
Get the Recipe: Mushroom Dumplings in Katsuobushi Broth
Get the Recipe: Russian Style Spring Dumplings
Neelam Batra’s spicy chicken curry yields 12 servings and it got a solid five-star rating from our readers. You can also try our quick coconut-infused cauliflower curry, readily adaptable based on what you have on hand—for example, swapping in eggplant for cauliflower, or potatoes. And pork-and-potato curry is nice and hearty, too. Double the latter two recipes as needed.
Get the Recipe: Spicy Chicken Curry
Get the Recipe: Cauliflower Curry
Get the Recipe: Pork-and-Potato Curry
Chili recipes reliably produce a big batch, whether you prefer classic beef, vegetarian, or pork and brisket.
Get the Recipe: Classic Beef Chili
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
Get the Recipe: Pork-and-Brisket Chili
Our herb-scented mashed potatoes, which are ready in an hour, ultimately make enough for 10 servings—for reference, they lasted my family of three several days as a side dish in the refrigerator. A simple roasted vegetable mix like Brussels sprouts, carrots, and cauliflower can also carry far (made all the more tasty with a tangy, nutty vinaigrette.) For a vegetable-forward main, our recent sheet pan eggplant Parmesan recipe serves eight and doesn’t require any frying, either.
If you're looking for a vegan vegetable side, Rocco DiSpirito's coconut-creamed Swiss chard can be frozen (just make sure the greens are submerged in the liquid) and batched as well.
Get the Recipe: Herb-Scented Mashed Potatoes
Get the Recipe: Roasted Vegetables with Smashed-Walnut Vinaigrette
Get the Recipe: Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan
Get the Recipe: Coconut-Creamed Swiss Chard
If you've got chickpeas, hummus is a great way to use them up—and Michael Solomonov's Israeli hummus makes enough for four cups. Serve it over grain bowls, with raw or roasted vegetables, as a sandwich spread, and of course, with your favorite pita chips. For something colorful, Yotam Ottolenghi's za'atar-spiced beet dip makes three cups, and it turns out a beautiful vibrant pink.
Warm dips like spinach-artichoke are always comforting, and our recipe yields 10 servings. Of course, hearty buffalo chicken dip is always an option, too—serve it with tortilla chips and celery sticks and enjoy as a snack for several days.
Get the Recipe: Israeli Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas
Get the Recipe: Za'atar-Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts
Get the Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Dip
Get the Recipe: Warm Spinach-Artichoke Dip
Sauces and Stocks
Hugh Acheson calls his basic chicken stock recipe a “culinary mic drop” because you throw all of the ingredients (except the salt!) in a large stockpot, turn on the heat, and then walk away. It yields three quarts, which can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to three months. For seafood stock, Katie Button's recipe yields 4 1/4 cups, and can be frozen up to three months; Jehangir Mehta's vegetable stock helps you make use of whatever vegetable scraps you have on hand.
Sauces like pesto and tomato sauce are easy to make ahead too, and can be mixed with everything from pasta to grilled meat and vegetables. If you want to make a supply of vinaigrette, Acheson also has a basic recipe that can be batched and adapted with tons of different flavors—think spicy sesame, Greek, miso, French-style, and more.
Get the Recipe: Basic Chicken Stock
Get the Recipe: Seafood Stock
Get the Recipe: Vegetable Scrap Stock
Get the Recipe: Mixed-Herb Pesto
Get the Recipe: Basic Tomato Sauce
Get the Recipe: Basic Vinaigrette
Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe for fluffy, buttery Parker House rolls makes a pretty big batch—three dozen. If you want to freeze them, the fully formed (unbaked) rolls can be stored in the freezer for up to one month. Then, you can bake them from frozen whenever your dinner needs a special touch. If you’re craving something sweet, our chocolate chip and banana muffins recipe makes 24, which can be wrapped and frozen for up to one month. Or, go for chocolate pretzel crinkle cookies, which yield five dozen cookies and can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. (Having extra cookies is always a plus.)
Get the Recipe: Parker House Rolls
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffins
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Pretzel Crinkle Cookies