Dinner Make Ahead - Heat & Serve Recipes

Make Ahead Back to School Dinner Ideas

A casserole with cheese noodles and a bowl of broccoli.
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With back to school upon us, dinner time is one of the major challenges moms face. Getting a nutritious dinner that everyone likes on the table at a reasonable time and still shuttling kids to and from after school activities can be a tricky, if not daunting, task. These make ahead back to school dinner ideas are a great way to ease back into the routine.

I find that casserole dinners work great on these busy nights. Casseroles can be made ahead of time, reheated later, and kept warm for late arrivals. Kind of solves all of the problems right? Now we just need casserole recipes with delicious flavor that even the kids will devour. I’m here for ya! Check out these go-to weeknight casserole recipes that will keep all the bellies full and get dinner on the table easily.

Closeup of a serving spoon scooping out chicken and rice casserole with melted cheese.
Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
This simple Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole is a great weeknight dinner. With shredded chicken, rice and veggies all in one dish, blended together with a garlicy cheese sauce – this dinner is sure to be a family favorite.
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A casserole with melted cheddar cheesy.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
With the chicken, rice and veggies all baked in, this casserole is a perfect one dish dinner. The familiar taste of ranch dressing is a crowd pleaser every time.
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Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole being served.
Easy Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken and bow-tie pasta baked to perfection in a sherry mushroom sauce.
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Chicken tetrazzini with bow-tie pasta and peas
A slice of Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna
Just 20 minutes of prep for a delicious Italian dinner with the veggies and meat mixed right in. A single serving dish dinner that is nutritious comfort food at its best.
A slice of Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna with basil garnish.
Turkey Taco Bake
This taco bake is flavorful and easy to make – a perfect combination for a busy weeknight dinner. The best part? It has all of the things that kids love about tacos but none of the mess of a taco falling apart in their hands.
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taco bake casserole being spooned out of a glass baking dish showing rice, corn, black beans and melted cheese.
Brandy Cream Sauce Pasta Bake
Decadently smooth and rich but not the least bit heavy, this Brandy Cream Sauce Pasta hits all of the right comfort food cravings. Baked with crumbled sweet sausage, caramelized roasted garlic and mushrooms cooked down in butter… and the best part? It can be made in just 30 minutes. This pasta bake dinner is perfect for easy weeknight cooking.
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A casserole dish with brandy cream sauce pasta bake containing bow-tie pasta, crumbled sausage, sautéed mushrooms, shredded parmesan cheese and topped with parsley and breadcrumbs. Baking dish sits on a wicker mat with a blue hand towel.
An overhead view of a tray of Cheeseburger Casserole with Noodles and a bowl of broccoli on the side.
Cheeseburger Casserole with Noodles
A unique twist on the classic cheeseburger, which is such a fun and interesting way to switch up your dinnertime routine. Customize this recipe by switching up the type of ground meat or adding your families favorite veggies or burger toppings.
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An overhead view of a tray of Cheeseburger Casserole with Noodles and a bowl of broccoli on the side.
Creamy Chicken and Potato Casserole
Similar to a loaded baked potato but with lots of shredded chicken and baked into a hot, melty casserole. Serve it with your favorite potato toppings like buffalo hot sauce and avocado mash.
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A white plate with cubed red potatoes, creamy shredded chicken, melted cheddar cheese, bacon bits and chopped scallions sits on a striped towel in front of a a casserole dish.
Chicken and Fennel Casserole
This casserole combines the earthy flavors of chicken, fennel, and creamy tomato sauce, creating a satisfying and wholesome dinner that will have your entire family begging for seconds.
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Creamy shredded chicken, chopped fennel and zucchini and rice with melted cheese and chopped parsley.
sausage and bean casserole
Sausage and Bean Casserole
A fast, hearty, one dish dinner that is surprisingly delicious. The sweetness of the sausage and the brown sugar combined with the crunchy breadcrumb topping is what this recipe is all about. Adding the beans gives this recipe the extra fullness needed to make it a one dish meal.
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Sausage and Bean Casserole
Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
Italian Sausage Pasta Bake is a new twist on the classic baked ziti that will please both kids and adults alike. This quick and easy-to-make dish features savory Italian sausage, tender pasta, and a silky tomato sauce, all topped with a generous layer of melted mozzarella cheese. Guaranteed to become a family favorite.
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A glass tray with cheese covered pasta bake sits on a dish towel on a marble counter. The casserole is topped with fresh oregano leaves.
Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole
This Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole recipe has all of the same great flavors and ingredients as the traditional dish. The recipe uses a homemade blend of seasonings so you can control the heat, making this dish kid-friendly too. One of the best things about this casserole is that it doesn't need to bake in the oven. That means the time it takes to prepare this dish is way less than a typical casserole – just 30 minutes from start to finish! 
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An overhead view of a tray of Chicken Fajita Rice Casserole ready to served and topped with a sour cream drizzle and chives.

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