Robin’s Healthy Take: Make-Ahead Casseroles

by in Robin's Healthy Take, January 28, 2011
Robin's Chicken Casserole

It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking for yourself, your family or a table of friends, life is easier when you can make a great dish in advance and refrigerate it for another day. It’s no secret I’m a prep-ahead gal, and I do it for two reasons: First, so that I’m not running around the kitchen at the last minute when people are already hungry and second, so I can relax and have a cocktail while dinner cooks.

Whatever your reason for cooking ahead, I’ve got a few recipes for make-ahead casseroles that you can enjoy any night of the week. Oh, and by the way, they’re super-nutritious and lower in calories and fat than their traditional counterparts because I’ve swapped a few ingredients here and there. Check ‘em out, then send me YOUR favorite fridge and freezer-friendly dishes.


Chicken-Asiago Casserole with Rice and Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: Combine 2 cups cooked white or brown rice, 1 pound cubed chicken breasts, 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese and 2 teaspoons dried oregano, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix well and transfer mixture to a baking dish.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese. Cover with plastic, refrigerate up to 2 days. Remove plastic, cover with foil; bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes; uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, until cheese is golden; top with fresh chopped basil.

Baked Ziti with Seared Zucchini: Cook 1 pound ziti noodles, set aside. Sear 2 sliced medium zucchini in olive oil until golden brown on both sides; set aside. Combine 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon salt-free Italian seasoning. Spoon 1/2 cup of your favorite tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish; top with 1/3 of the cooked ziti, half of the ricotta mixture and half of the seared zucchini. Pour over 1/2 cup of pasta sauce; repeat layers (1/3 of the pasta, remaining ricotta mixture, remaining zucchini and 1/2 cup sauce. Top with remaining pasta, 1/2 cup sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with plastic, refrigerate up to 3 days. When ready to serve, remove plastic, cover with foil; bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes; uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Beef and Corn Casserole With Two Cheeses: Cook 1 pound lean ground beef in a little olive oil until browned and drain fat if necessary. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper; stir in 1 1/2 cups salsa, 1 cup frozen white corn, 1 cup shredded 2 percent sharp cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup light sour cream; transfer the mixture to a baking dish; top with 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese. Cover with plastic, refrigerate up to 3 days. Remove plastic, bake at 375oF for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

TELL US: What are your favorite make-ahead dishes?

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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Comments (699)

  1. Tommie says:

    This looks so good, I am going to make it and then share my opinion. Looks just like what Mom used to make!

  2. SusieBeeonMaui says:

    Nothing beats the slow cooker (to me) for cooking ahead and being able to enjoy visiting with your guests when they arrive. The bonus is the house smells wonderful! A recent Mexican themed recipe was a big hit, low effort, and made plenty for leftovers and for the freezer.
    http://eatlittleeatbig.blogspot.com/2011/01/recip

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kendra, Jaye Alynn. Jaye Alynn said: Robin ’s Healthy Take: Make-Ahead Casseroles #healthy #food http://tiny.ly/P5JI [...]

  4. Charlotte says:

    In the chicken asiago casserole, should the cubed chicken be cooked or raw?

  5. dougel01 says:

    i made the beef and corn casserole and LOVED it!!! I actually switched in lean turkey (which i used taco seasoning on for extra flavor) and fat free sour cream, to lighten up the recipe even more. And then I topped it at serving time with avocado, delicious!

    to make the left overs last even longer, i served them heated up with some whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles, very tasty! Great Recipe for anyone to enjoy

  6. jre says:

    The recipes look fine but they could be better written. A list of ingredients would help. Then the directions put in a list rather than a paragraph.

  7. Nikki says:

    Added taco seasoning and stuffed the mixture into half green peppers.

  8. erikajohnson says:

    do you have to freeze chicken recipe for two days or can you prepare and eat them the same night?

    • Gayle says:

      Hello Erika,

      Yes, you can prepare and bake the same night….if you wish to prepare, cook the casserole before freezing. You can take the casserole out of the freezer, let it come to room temperature, about 30 minutes or so, then bake. Note: Your baking time might be increased if the casserole doesn't defrost in 30 minutes. Don't freeze the casserole if using raw chicken. You can saute the chicken first before adding to the casserole. I also would advise holding the cheese on top, add the cheese on the warm-up. If you have an additional question, you can reach me at gjurgensen@comcast.net.

  9. jasmin says:

    sounds good im on a diet but my husband clearly is not. and these meals sound like something he might avyually eat! thank you a lot.. im gonna try them but im going to have to use diffrent cheez i cant seam to find asiago cheez nowhere…

  10. Jenny says:

    Is the Beef and corn casserole kept in the fridge or freezer, wouldn't it go off in the fridge for 3 days?

    • tobyamidor says:

      Hi Jenny,
      Thanks for your comment. Three days is a good amount of time to keep it in the refrigerator– but you could always prepare it sooner if needed. You cold actually freeze it longer if desired.
      -Toby

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