What to CookMake Ahead

16 Simple & Satisfying Make-Ahead Meals for One

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In my experience, single-serving dishes tend to be of-the-minute, speedy affairs, while recipes for make-ahead meals feed small armies. And while I want to plan ahead, I don’t want to eat the same thing over and over and over again.

One way to keep dinners fresh is by freezing portions for my future self. But recently, my freezer’s been getting a bit full of soups and loaves (and some ice cream). So I’ve thought of another tactic: prepping one base ingredient on Sunday nights, like grains or sauces, so I’m halfway to dinner the rest of the week. It’s the perfect compromise between the comforting predictability of meal planning and the creative freedom of making dinner on the fly. Here, I’ve gathered four make-ahead components that are perfect blank canvases for dinners I can finish on my own—no small armies required.

Make a pot of rice

Quick, easy, filling rice is ready to help you with dinner all week long. Use it to bulk up salads or cobble together leftovers. And if you’re looking for a fluffy, stress-free method, check out our guide here.

The 30-Minute Dish I Cook for Myself & for Myself Alone
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The 30-Minute Dish I Cook for Myself & for Myself Alone
How to Make Fried Rice Without a Recipe

How to Make Fried Rice Without a Recipe by Pat Tanumihardja

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Lemongrass-Ginger Patties

Lemongrass-Ginger Patties by Nicholas Day

Jessica Koslow's Crispy Brown Rice "Kabbouleh"
Jessica Koslow's Crispy Brown Rice "Kabbouleh"

Boil a batch of eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are not only portable snacks, but also adaptable, affable best friends to salads, stews, sauces, and sandwiches. There are loads of ways to get your perfect egg, but we’ve got some pointers.

Aselila (Georgian Egg Salad with Walnuts & Sage)

Aselila (Georgian Egg Salad with Walnuts & Sage) by Kukla

Egg & Eggplant Sandwich

Egg & Eggplant Sandwich by fiveandspice

Japanese 7-Eleven Egg Salad Sandwich

Japanese 7-Eleven Egg Salad Sandwich by Nikkitha Bakshani

Bacon, Avocado, and Hardboiled Egg Salad

Bacon, Avocado, and Hardboiled Egg Salad by Food52

Soak a bunch of beans

Whether or not you’re a fan of the overnight soak, beans are a great make-ahead base. Dress them up in salads or pulse them into dips. (You can even use canned—we won’t tell.)

Panzanella with Marinated Chickpeas and Chimichurri
Panzanella with Marinated Chickpeas and Chimichurri
Curried Chickpea and Kale Salad with Cheddar and Grapes

Curried Chickpea and Kale Salad with Cheddar and Grapes by Ali Slagle

Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale

Heidi Swanson's Pan-Fried Giant White Beans with Kale by Genius Recipes

Black Bean with Mango and Chile Powder Salad
Black Bean with Mango and Chile Powder Salad

Pulse some pesto

Pesto can be made out of practically any vegetable or herb that’s green and flavorful. Arugula? Yep. Peas? Yes. Mint? Of course! And what’s more: You can add any nuts, oils, or cheeses you’d like. Now, get to grinding.

Monster Avocado Toast Sandwich
Monster Avocado Toast Sandwich
Soba with Parsley-Pea Pesto and Kale

Soba with Parsley-Pea Pesto and Kale by kangarhubarb

Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream

Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream by fiveandspice

Chorizo, Pesto, & Mozzarella Noodle Pizza
Chorizo, Pesto, & Mozzarella Noodle Pizza

How do you prep dinners without getting tired of leftovers? Share tips in the comments!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Meal Plan