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Make-Ahead Dinners, Desserts and Snacks to Make the Holidays Easier

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Make-ahead recipes to help you make it through the holidays.


Check your calendar—it’s nuts, right? Between the social (potlucks, cookie swaps, work parties, real parties) and the functional (cooking for potlucks, prepping for cookie swaps, appetizers for work parties, fancy yum for real parties) there’s not a moment to spare. We feel ya. We’re working ahead over here, pulling together a list of make-ahead recipes that make you look a total holiday hero.


1. Mini Marshmallow Cream Cakes in Jars

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Bring a couple to a wrapping party with a BFF. Bring dozens to the office for the lunch-hour Secret Santa fest. Cute little jars, who can resist that?


2. Make-Ahead Cheesy Barbecue Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

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The holidays burn a lot of calories; true story. This prep-and-roll entrée sets you up with grab-one, grab-em-all individual rolls, so you’re ready for dinner-for-one or to host the whole crew for an impromptu feast.


3. Impossibly Easy Mexican Chorizo Breakfast Bake

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It’s a breakfast bake that mixes all your faves together, but we think it’s also great as a lunch bake, dinner bake, or an any-old-time bake. We’re rebels like that.


4. Impossibly Easy Bacon Cheeseburger Balls

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Every bite is like chowing down on a full-on burger (pickles included). And since you’re pre-making and pre-baking, you are locked and loaded for every "Would you bring some appetizers?” for the next month.


5. Make-Ahead Cheesy Turkey Chili Bake

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On the healthy side with turkey as the protein, on the easy side with no-mix, no-simmer readiness. Make two, eat one, and freeze the other for that night when there are zero minutes to spare.


6. Make-Ahead Snowman Cheese Ball

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Making a snowman is one of the best parts of winter. This cute cheese ball comes together in two steps: at a time convenient to you, you assemble the parts and prep cheese balls. When it’s party time, simply stack, decorate, and serve. You for the win.


7. Make-Ahead Peach Breakfast Bake

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Take a few minutes to pull it together the night before. When the morning alarm goes off, roll out of bed, pitch it in the oven, and let the fresh-baked aroma do the wake-up work on the rest of the crew.


8. Make-Ahead Breakfast Bites

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A full, hearty breakfast you can hold in one hand—what day doesn’t need that? Make enough for the weekend or to get you through the whole week.


9. Mini Burrito Snacks

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Roll-up a bunch of these bad boys and freeze ‘em for later. Then just reheat for a quick and easy snack.


10. Cream Cheese Crescent Wontons

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You know those crispy, luscious treats that you get at your favorite Chinese takeout joint? These muscle them up a titch with pre-made crescent roll dough, and are great for grabbing, bagging and taking on the road.


11. Caramel Fudge Cake in Jars

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Send some of these sweet treats in a jar home with friends, or keep a few on hand for yourself whenever the dessert craving hits.


12. Death By Chocolate Mini Cheesecake Pies

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You’ll own the dessert table with these teeny-tiny in size, mega-gigantic in chocolate flavor pies. Make them a day or two before the party, saving those last minutes before the guests arrive for a quick sampling for yourself.


13. Make-Ahead Slow-Cooker Asian Beef Short Ribs

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It’s the sauce that makes this a killer meal, and it’s the easiest make-ahead fancy dinner we know. The recipe breaks out every step, except for how to talk people into leaving some leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.


14. Make-Ahead Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

make-ahead-holidays

We love how you don’t even need to hit the store to whip this up, since the recipe uses pretty much everything we always have on hand. Make a batch for a couple of dinners or a bunch of lunches.


15. Make-Ahead Freezer Pizzas

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If you want to totally rock this holiday thing, make the meals that let you focus on nothing but the festivities. Put your favorite toppings—and only your favorites—on these homemade frozen pizzas, and it’s like opening a gift every time you bake one up.


16. Make-Ahead Grands!™ Mini Beef Pot Pies

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So many smart hacks, from flavored frozen potatoes to using prepped Alfredo sauce as the pot pie gravy. And one more shortcut: make 'em, freeze ’em, and reheat ’em at your whim.


17. Impossibly Easy Bacon, Egg and Tot Bake

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Casseroles are a go-to comfort food, especially when you need a break from all that shopping (and all that working to pay for all that shopping). Picture this evening in your near future: putting your feet up while your pre-made bake gets perfectly crispy in the oven. Dreamy, right?


18. Cranberry Blue Cheese Appetizers

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Super gourmet. Super simple. These tiny cheesy lovelies come together quickly and easily, so prepping ahead of time feel like no work at all.


19. Slow-Cooker Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Chili

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There’s not a lot to plan in terms of pulling off this fantastically filling and delicious chili. Oh, there’s plugging in the slow cooker, so that’s a little work there... Beyond that, dinner is as good as done. Future you says “Thanks.”

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