20 of the best cook once, eat all week recipes: make-ahead meals and batch dish ideas to shave hours off your working week

When we come home at night during the week, often the last thing we feel like doing is cooking. Either we're exhausted from a miserable commute, slightly tipsy from post-work drinks or simply want to crash out on the sofa and feast on the latest episode of Homeland

But wouldn't life be great if we were one of those super-efficient people who batch cook meals on a Sunday night and simply roll them out through the week.

Our fridge would be crammed with make-ahead sauces and warming winter casseroles  - preferably with cute little handwritten labels - to use as and when we fancy. And we'd never experience that horrible "what shall I cook there's nothing in my fridge, sod it I'll just have cereal and wine" moment again. 

With that in mind, we've pulled together a selection of hard-working and versatile dishes that you can cook en masse over the weekend and then enjoy all week as breakfasts, lunches or mid-week dinners.

From piles of caramelized onion quesadillas to a warming skillet of vegetarian chili and jars of blueberry oatmeal smoothies, check out our 20 delicious make-ahead meals that promise to shave time, sweat and possibly tears off your weekly routine.

We never thought we'd say it (it is, after all, rather a Stepford Wives concept) but three cheers for batch cooking!   

Please note: if followed correctly, these recipes should last three to five days but refer to each individual recipe for further guidance and always err on the side of caution if you're unsure about the appearance or smell of any of the ingredients you use. 

  • Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

    Whip up a batch of these delicious quesadillas packed with caramelized onions and peppers for a quick lunchbox fix, or combine with rice and salad for an evening meal. 

    Find a recipe here (via 


  • Oatmeal smoothies in a jar

    Fill your fridge with inviting little pots of oatmeal goodness with fruity flavours, from blackberry to apricot, for a ready-made breakfast.

    Find a recipe here (via 

    Image: theyummylife/Pinterest

  • Roast pumpkin and spinach lasagne

    A healthy and hearty vegetarian classic, this creamy dish promises to keep you carb-fixed throughout the week. 

    Find a recipe here (via BBC Good Food). 

    Image: Pinterest

  • Broccoli cheese soup

    There's nothing like a warming cheesy soup to nourish you through the dark nights of autumn and winter - this one smells divine. 

    Find a recipe here (via 

    Image: Pinterest

  • Asparagus and goat's cheese frittata

    Frittatas are quick and easy to make and they're also protein-rich, so you can make one giant one at the beginning of the week and it'll keep you fuelled to Friday. 

    Find a recipe here (via detoxinista).

    Image: detoxinista/Pinterest

  • Spicy vegetarian chili

    There's nothing quite like a spicy vegetarian chili for warming the soul. There are a fair few ingredients here but you won't regret investing the effort - it's the perfect mid-week pick-me-up. 

    Find a recipe here (via 

    Image: DivineTaste/Pinterest

  • Grilled chicken breasts

    Grilled chicken breasts are the king of versatile ingredients. Keep them in individual bags and serve in tacos, in a pasta sauce or with this dressing of fresh avocado, mozzarella and basil leaves. 

    Find a recipe here (via 


  • Beef empanadas

    For a true guilty pleasure snack to see you through the week, look no further than these Filipino-style empanadas, featuring minced beef and garlic sealed in a case of flaky golden pastry. 

    Find a recipe here (via 

    Image: stlcooks/Pinterest

  • Falafel and homemade pita bread

    Falafel balls are a great option for healthy lunches or an extra veggie ingredient to add to grills or spaghetti sauces. They taste best in a homemade pita heaped with greek yoghurt, red cabbage flakes and fresh mint. 

    Find a recipe here (via 


  • Chorizo, chickpea and chicken soup

    Use up all your weekend leftovers with a giant vat of this wholesome chickpea, chicken and chorizo soup - then re-visit it every time you're in need of a quick spot of something really filling. 

    Find a recipe here (via 


  • Baked ratatouille

    Get a few of your five a day with a giant baked ratatouille - a Mediterranean classic that ticks all the boxes for taste and sustenance.  

    Find a recipe here (via 


  • Crustless mini quiches

    These cute little quiches are true multi-taskers and will work as a breakfast, lunch or evening meal option depending on what you fancy. 

    Find a recipe here (via

    Image: michellesmithrdsecrets/Pinterest

  • Orzo salad

    This a lovely light salad to use as a side dish or as a lunchtime meal. This recipe uses peas and bell peppers but it's pretty versatile so you can add to it as you please. 

    Find a recipe here (via 

    Image: williams-sonoma/Pinterest

  • Chicken enchilada casserole

    The king of feel-good dishes, chicken enchilada casserole has none of the blandness you might associate with some leftover dishes - it truly packs a punch and comes with a generous topping of cheese to boot.

    Find a recipe here via 

    Image: Pinterest

  • Salmon and spinach roulade

    This ingenious creation is made from an oven-baked omelette wrapped around a spinach and salmon mix to make a roulade. It's very flexible and can be served hot or cold drizzed with tahini sauce. 

    Find a recipe here via 

    Image: thehealthyfoodie/Pinterest

  • Breakfast omelette muffins

    Banish breakfast chaos forever with these crave-worthy omelette muffins. Just cook up a batch of 20 and serve daily with freshly brewed coffee. Perfect.

    Find a recipe here (via

    Image: beingconsumed/Pinterest

  • Leek and potato gratin

    Leek and potato gratin promises soothing creaminess by the spoonful. It's the perfect antidote to a hectic working week.

    Find a recipe here (via 


  • Moroccan lamb tagine

    A classic winter warmer, a Moroccan lamb tagine really will last you through the week with platefuls of spicy delight. You can mix up the serving options with couscous, rice or buttered new potatoes. 

    Find a recipe here (via


  • Spicy turkey meatballs

    Freeze a batch of meatballs alone or in a spicy basil leaf sauce for one of the most satisfying microwave meals you are ever likely to taste. 

    Find a recipe here via

    Image: Pinterest

  • Shepherd's Pie Pots with cauliflower mash topping

    What's better than one big shepherd's pie, we hear you cry? Why little potted versions, of course. These have the added benefit of a healthy cauliflower mash topping so you can scoff them down without an iota of guilt.

    Find the recipe here (via

    Image: cuckooking/Pinterest

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