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Cook once, eat for a week ideas...

I'm trying to come up with ideas for a few things I can make in 2-3 hours on my day off each week so my husband and I will have options for lunch and dinner when we aren't cooking a meal together. I'm looking to do a soup, a casserole-type thing, and a sandwich filling or salad topping that will keep for at least 3 days and re-heat well if needed. I'm not necessarily looking for things with "overlapping" ingredients (i.e. - take the leftovers from this, and turn it into this)...more things that could pair well if so desired, but are different enough to not be boring. Thanks!

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  1. Figures, CHOW just did a "beans for a week" "roast chicken for a week" feature here...can't find the thread...maybe a smarter chowhound can help...basically, it was "take a pound of dried beans..." and then for the entire week, make meals from it...was a great idea! YIPPEE found the link, hope this helps you:

    http://www.chow.com/stories/11543 (white beans


    http://www.chow.com/stories/11544 (roast chicken)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val

      I'll second both of those...Sadly, I'm equally inept at finding the links. Chickpeas are particularly useful in this regard: first, serve some of them curried as a main/side, then sprinkle them to make salads or cooked greens more substantial, then hummus....etc.

      I also like to start with a roast - either chicken parts nestled in vegetables, or just vegetables. The meat is good to go as is, or sliced for sandwiches, and the veggies are also good as is, then fried and salted (mmmm. sweet potato fries...), then pureed into a soup.

      Last but not least, a couple of pork tenderloins will go a long way for very little effort. Season them simply when cooking, and they can add protein to any meal of the day, and are pretty manipulable flavor wise.

      Good luck!

    2. I made a millet and butternut squash cassrole type dish that reheated very well. I also made a cauliflower soup that reheated well- it was stored in pint size containers in the fridge.

      If you roast a few chickens, you can eat one whole the night you make it, and shred up the leftovers. You can add shredded chicken to vegetable soup, use it in tacos, or make it into chicken salad with some mayo, lemon, and mustard.

      1. Buy and dismember a small turkey or a couple of roasting chickens. Use the carcass, neck, and giblets (sans liver) for stock/soup, roast or poach some of the breast meat, make a-la-king with the rest (if you dice the raw breast meat it cooks quickly in the cream sauce and adds more flavor to the sauce), make a saucy baked dish like Chicken Marbella with the thighs and drums. (If using a turkey, roast the drums.) Roasted breast meat for salads and sandwiches, or casseroles like turkey divan.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greygarious

          Oh, and whenever you're using the oven, put some potatoes right on the rack at the sides. If they're not done when the main item it, turn off the heat and leave them in there to finish. As per James Beard's recommendation, I like them best when they've baked long enough for the flesh adjacent to the skin to caramelize. I have often forgotten them and left them in the turned-off oven for a day, with no ill effects. To have a crisp skin when reheating, let them come to room temp then reheat briefly in the oven.

          You can completely cook rice and refrigerate for several days. For pasta, undercook a little bit, refrigerate, and when needed plunge into simmering water to finish.

        2. One of my favorites for this is a oven-barbecue chicken. Basically, you sear a few chicken breasts, then bake them in barbecue sauce until cooked through. I use an America's Test Kitchen recipe and make the sauce from scratch (ok, ketchup). it's a good dinner, then can be chopped up and used in sandwiches, on top of boboli crusts, in a BBQ chicken salad... It usually lasts me a week.

          For soups, just about anything you make will keep for a week. Depending on his tastes, something like a baked potato soup would be a hearty alternative to the seemingly ubiquitous bean soups. My husband loves French Onion soup, even without the bread and cheese on top. He could make a grilled cheese or cheese on toast under the broiler.

          Although, to be perfectly honest, for soups, I usually make something, then freeze it in individual portions after the first serving or two. That way, even if we end up eating soup every day for a week, at least there are different flavors. If you've going to start making something weekly, you could even just freeze one or two portions each week until you start to build a stockpile.

          1. Paella of any kind
            Braised Lamb or Beef Shanks or Ox Tail with veggies & potatoes
            Mixed Seafood Chowder
            Iman Biyaldi (eggplant, onion, tomato "stew spiced with cinnamon, all spice & clove)
            Pork Butt Braised to make pulled pork of whatever kind you like

            1. Roast pork knuckle/shoulder
              Szechuan beef and noodle soup
              Tuna casserole
              Chipotle macaroni and cheese
              Roast chicken (skinless pieces become chicken salad)
              Grilled steak
              Lamb stew

              1. It's been mentioned a couple times already, but pork shoulder is a great thing that lasts for a long while and can go into various dishes. It's cheap too. BBQ style sandwiches, pork tacos, Cuban sandwiches, plain ol' roasted and sliced pork... the list can go on.

                1. Roasted veggies (e.g. bell peppers, squash, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, etc.)

                  Goes great as a sandwich filling, or chopped up and tossed in a salad with some EVOO and vinagrette.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Leftovers are also great for a roasted veg puree (easy side for a protein) or soup (thin slightly with broth/stock).

                  2. I do this all the time - I make a 'neutral' casserole or stew (veggies and beans), and add different spices each day to that day's portion - maybe a chilli one day, curry the next. That way it doesn't get boring eating the same thing several days in a row.

                    1. I normally cook ahead for daily meals alone or with my daughter. In the ref:

                      A pair of roasted chickens, cut up into pieces.

                      Lentils cooked with onion, smoked lung (you can use something else).

                      French (pureed) carrot soup (has onions, stock, lots of powdered milk instead of cream, carrots).

                      Five new big tubs of homemade yogurt.

                      A sort of cooked homemade jarred pasta sauce (diced onion, tomato, sausage, olives, shallots, garlic, s&p, some dried herbs, some tomato paste and red wine, bit of olive oil; MW for six minutes, cool and store in glass jars)

                      Cooked al dente one kg of dried spaghetti (a few TBSp of sauce, top with pasta, sprinkle with chile flakes, MW for a couple of minutes, top with cheese - good to go.

                      1. I'm not sure that I'm understanding you since you are getting directions that are using the same ingredient so slap me if I go astray.

                        But here's my contribution for a casserole-type thing and actually what I made this last week. We had plenty for dinner for 4, and a couple lunches and dinner for three. (and there are two stuffed shells in the fridge)

                        Stuffed pasta shells with turkey, spinach and cheese

                        For a soup, I think Minestroni is good, nice for dinner with a quick tossed salad, and garlic bread. Easy to pack for lunch.

                        I also will roast a chicken, and out of that I can get enchiladas using the dark and back meat, chicken salad with the breast meat, or I will take the chicken and make a salad with lettuces, dried cranberries or dried cherries, almonds, basil, fresh mozzerella and a raspberry vinagrette. Or keep a little (about a cup) of chicken) and make matzo ball soup, with a terrific broth that I made from the carcass thanks to fine cooks on CH! Best broth ever.
                        Chicken is my main player, its easy on the wallet and versatile. I really never tire of it, and when when I do, I make fried chicken with cream gravy!

                        Let me know if you need my recipe for the stuffed shells or anything else, I see that you only asked for ideas.

                        1. I don't want to repeat anyone ... so my apologies in advance.

                          I would make some stuffed Italian dish, shells, ziti, manicoti. You can stuff with not only cheese with a simple meat sauce or a stuffing of meat with a cheese sauce. This freezes well. Keeps well and is simple with a side of salad and takes no time to make.

                          I love to make some chicken pan sauteed. Then cool and refrigerate, make a simple gravy with some white wine and broth and also in the fridge. Roast a big pan of veggies and couscous. Some can be used over the sauteed chicken with the sauce and couscous.

                          Roast chicken or turkey. Turkey is great. 1 turkey breast can be just turkey the first night. Make a dish of cannellini beans. Pan saute with garlic and onions and a little broth. They keep for days and great with any dish or over salad.

                          Also while roasting a turkey, roast a pork roast and veggies and potatoes all at once. Also some fresh beets. Interchange. Have some premade couscous in the refrig (micro to heat), some roasted veggies, great on the pork roast for a sandwich. Turkey with some beet slices for dinner with couscous or some roasted potatoes you made.

                          Make a rice casserole with wild rice, asparagus, turkey and a light cream sauce. 3 days is fine in the fridge. Serves a lot and is great.

                          Soup, a Hearty Chowder, or stew stays forever.

                          I know a classic, but meatloaf. I love meatloaf sandwiches, it heats up great. I still love it and had to add it.

                          I love to boil shrimp and add my ingredients most of the way and then make my rice and bag together. I add the rice to a one baggie, the veggie and rice to another and bag together. Just heat and mix. I know it sounds like a pre bagged meal but it works

                          Enchiladas are great. Stuffed with chicken beef, beans anything. Chill or freeze. Easily to reheat. Also a simple filling can be made and froze. That way you can make easy quesadillas. 2 minutes on the grill with some pre shredded cheese and you have dinner.

                          Pork roast, with some unique veggies, lots of squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes and then just available for sandwiches or dinner. Same with my pork loin.
                          Use the remaining couscous and chicken for a chicken salad. Maybe add some olives and artichoke hearts and dinner is served.

                          1. I often make a dish of roasted assorted veggies tossed with orzo, feta and mint. It is great room temp ( making it easy for lunch).

                            1. Ground Beef Enchiladas are easy to prep in about 15 minutes and do well to freeze..serve with spanish rice.
                              Eggplant Parm with the eggplant cutlets from Trader Joes makes this dish a no brainer and takes all of 10 minutes to make with a jar of sauce, mozzarella shredded and ricotta..freezes well
                              Crockpot of soup
                              Boil some eggs for egg salad sandwiches
                              Grill a bunch of chicken breast, legs and thighs
                              Slab of salmon from Costco, freeze servings serve with Romaine salad from Costco and tomatoes with a rice dish...get those baby peppers which are great to roast..
                              love roasting a whole pan of different veggies with some garlic and EVO.
                              Pita pocket sandwiches are great for stuffing those bad boys up.
                              Taco night is so easy and everyone loves tacos..that you can do in less than 20 minutes!

                              1. Good Sandwich fillings that last a week include shrimp salad and pimento cheese....great on white bread or crackers.
                                One thing I do on my extra day is make all the veggies....such as green beans, corn pudding, soup beans, greens,sweet potato casserole,grits, etc then I just add different proteins....salmon patties, pork chops, fish, chicken, etc. and corn bread or biscuits. After you mix or match it always seems like a new meal. I also keep salad on hand in case it needs a little something -something.
                                Soups: I love potato and veggie. Oh and tomato is so versatile.

                                1. This may be repeating some but I'd say:

                                  Lasagna (Seafood or Spinach/Pesto)
                                  Orzo/Pasta/Potato Salad
                                  Enchiladas (Seafood or Black Bean with Goat Cheese)
                                  Tamales (alot of work but they freeze great)
                                  Split Pea or French Onion Soup
                                  Senegalese Peanut Stew (see the The Daily Soup Cookbook)
                                  Pasticcio (Greek noodle casserole with feta)
                                  Tamale Pie or Casserole (we make something called Nacho pie, essentially all the ingredients of a loaded nacho plate in a casserole... super yummy and cheap to make)
                                  Red Beans and Rice
                                  Tuna Noodle Casserole
                                  Mushroom Stroganoff
                                  Bread Salad (see Michael Chiarella's recipe for this; awesome and endlessly variable)

                                  We're vegetarians so we don't cook Chickens or Pot Roasts, thus the heavier-than-usual reliance on stews and casseroles. You can always add meat to most of these; we often use veggie-meat substitutes from TJs and they work fine for us.

                                  Hope it helps and happy cooking!