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All in for the Win

The hustle and bustle of back-to-school days can make it seem like there's no time to cook dinner, let alone socialize. Enter the meal-prep party! It lets you get a head start on several meals while catching up with friends. Invite three friends to make these four recipes with you, and you'll each go home with four dinners for four.

We'll share everything you need to make the meal-prep party come together, from recipes to make and snack ideas for the cooks to shopping lists and helpful meal-prep gear.

women and man in kitchen
Photo: Kim Corenlison

Meal-Prep Party Recipes

BONUS: Download free printable recipe labels for the make-ahead meals you and your friends prep at the party. Be sure to scroll down this page to get ideas for meal-prep storage containers.

"I have used this basic principle and adapted it to make stuffed shells and lasagna. If making lasagna, I buy a second, smaller jar of spaghetti sauce. I always feel like I need a bit more. Merry Manicotti!" —Sandir

make-ahead manicotti
Photo: Brie Passano

"Once you've had one, you'll want another. The recipe is a little different from most burrito recipes, but I've had many, many requests for it. Serve these with sour cream, chopped green onions, and salsa." —Karena

Black Bean-Sweet Potato Burritos
Photo: Brie Passano
| Credit: Brie Passano

"This is a real yummy recipe. Serve it over a bed of rice. The leftovers go nicely in a whole wheat pita the next day for a warm delicious lunch. Hope you all enjoy!" —HEZZZ1223

Teriyaki and Pineapple Chicken
Photo: Brie Passano

"Easy and yummy. Serve with cornbread for a nice warm meal on a cold evening." —Trina

Sausage and Zucchini Soup
Photo: Brie Passano

Cooks' Snacks

Just a little something for the cooks to nibble and sip while they rock the kitchen.

These appetizers made a big hit at a dinner party I gave last week (the guests even asked to take home the leftovers I had!) I used sun-dried tomato tortillas - made the appetizer look really festive. A definite party pleaser - highly recommended if you want to get lots of compliments! —TYMAR

Party Pinwheels
Photo: Brie Passano

"This boozy, fruity frozen sangria is an adult version of the icy slushies we slurped down as kids. So refreshing on a hot summer night. Cheers!" —foodelicious

sangria smoothie
Photo: Brie Passano

Meal-Prep Party Timeline

1. Two Days Ahead

Prepare grocery list. Shop for or order groceries for delivery tomorrow.

2. One Day Ahead

Clear out some fridge and freezer space. Organize groceries and round up supplies. Make pinwheels and sangria slush, if desired, for party snacks. Ask guests to bring any supplies you lack.

3. Day Of

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Set out supplies.
  2. Cook pasta shells for manicotti and set aside on a greased tray. This will free up your 8-qt. pot (and a burner) for soup.
  3. Ask one team of two people to prep the sweet potatoes for the burritos and get them roasting, while the other team of two preps the ingredients for the soup.
  4. Have the first team move on to making the manicotti filling and assembling the pans of pasta. Ask the second team to move to the stove to finish the soup recipe.
  5. Ask the first team to finish the burrito recipe. Team two can then focus on the pineapple chicken recipe.

But First, We Shop…

You can tackle grocery shopping two ways:

  1. Ask each person to shop for groceries for one recipe. Save receipts, tally totals, then settle up so everyone pays the same amount.
  2. Have one person do all the shopping. This can be helpful when multiple recipes call for the same ingredients. Plus, many large grocery stores provide online ordering and home drop-off. Then you can have all groceries delivered to the host and split the bill four ways.

Supply List

Guests can bring anything the host doesn't have.

For the Manicotti:

  • Large (8-qt.) pot for cooking pasta
  • Four 8x8-inch or slightly larger foil pans or four 2-qt. Rectangular baking dishes
  • A few gallon-size zip-top plastic bags for piping filling into shells
  • 1 very large bowl

For the Burritos:

  • 2 rimmed baking pans for roasted sweet potatoes
  • Large skillet

For the Teriyaki Chicken:

  • Wok or very large skillet
  • 2 large bowls

For the Soup:

  • 1 very large (8-qt.) Dutch oven
  • Slotted spoon


  • Cutting board and knives
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Foil for lining/covering pans and wrapping burritos
  • Freezer-safe containers (freezer bags or reusable glass or plastic storage containers) for soup and teriyaki chicken

Helpful Meal-Prep Gear

You'll want to make sure the party's geared up for all that prepping, cooking, and — most importantly — bringing home the meals. These items should come in handy:

Tight lids, non-skid bottoms, ergonomic grips, and built-in spouts make these nesting bowls ideal for mixing, pouring, and storing. $40 at crateandbarrel.com

rosti retro green melamine mixing bowl set
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

These roomy 2.75-qt. containers are ideal for freezer-to-oven meals. The tempered glass bases can go in the microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher. Compression lids press air out for a vacuum-tight seal. $16 each at containerstore.com

anchor hocking trueseal containers
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

Recipe prep is more fun with these cheerful earthenware bowls from Portugal. Bonus: They're safe for both dishwasher and microwave. $30 at crateandbarrel.com

avery striped mixing bowl set
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

The hand-sculpted Italian olivewood handles are as comfortable as they are beautiful, and the heat-resistant silicone heads pull off for dishwasher cleaning. $25 each at surlatable.com

staub olivewood and silicone spatula or spoon
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

Just right for soups, this trio of 2-cup containers features bases and lids that are made from durable Pyrex glass. Silicon rims on the lids provide a leakproof seal. All pieces can go in the microwave, oven, freezer, and dishwasher. $28 at williams-sonoma.com

Pyrex Ultimate Glass
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

Perfect for small kitchens, this neatly nesting set includes sizes from 1 cup to 121/2 cups with colorful snap-tight lids. The BPA-free plastic is also freezer-, microwave-, and dishwasher-safe. $30 for 10-piece set at amazon.com

joseph joseph nest lock containers
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

With a 21/2-qt. pitcher and six highball glasses, this slender set is ideal for sangria or other pitcher drinks. $25 at walmart.com

better homes and gardens brunch pitcher and glass set
Photo: Allrecipes Magazine

Related: Check out our collection of Meal-Prep Recipes.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2019 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.