By Shannon Crocker, RD
If you struggle with finding time to make healthy meals during the week, you’re not alone.
One of the biggest barriers people tell me that gets in the way of cooking weeknight meals is lack of time. With two teenagers who often need driving to and from school, part-time jobs and activities (seemingly always at dinner prep time), I get it!
When it comes to busy weeknights, doing some prep ahead (when you can) and keeping things simple is key to getting a nourishing meal on the table quickly.
One of my favourite strategies to save time and keep my kitchen a happy place is to cook once, and eat twice.
To me, this makes a lot of sense: while you cook for one meal, you make extra and have a plan for how to make it into another meal.
Isn’t that just leftovers?
To me, “cook once, eat twice” is actually different from leftovers. It’s not about eating the same meal, re-heated the next night – although it’s great if you enjoy that. But I’m talking about re-inventing one or more parts of a meal into a different meal altogether.
It’s a strategy I use in the kitchen weekly. Give it a try – hopefully it will become a time-saver for you too!
Here are four delicious, nutritious recipes and ideas on how to reinvent them into different meals using the cook once, eat twice strategy:
Cook Once: Turkey Stir-Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Eat Twice: Turkey Salad or Wrap
When making this stir-fry, double the turkey you’re cooking (not the veggies) and refrigerate cooked turkey for the second meal.
Meal #1: Enjoy the first half of the turkey with the stir-fried veggies and peanut sauce over brown rice or barley.
Meal #2: Enjoy the turkey another night of the week on a crunchy veggie-filled salad or in wraps stuffed with leafy greens, avocado and cucumber. The recipe makes enough peanut sauce so you can add some to the wraps as well!
Cook Once: Grilled Carrots with Maple Dijon Dressing
Eat Twice: Power Bowl with Grilled Carrots
Double up the carrots in this yummy salad recipe and refrigerate half for the second meal.
Meal 1: Enjoy half the grilled carrots and dressing on this scrumptious leafy green salad. Add some aged cheddar and chickpeas to make it a meal-sized salad.
Meal 2: Create Power Bowls by adding grilled carrots to bowls along with chickpeas or black beans, quinoa, and lightly sautéed garlicky greens (e.g. swiss chard). Top with a sprinkle of feta cheese and sunny side up egg.
Cook Once: Flank Steak with Soy-Lime Reduction
This recipe is designed to be a Cook Once, Eat Twice recipe. When making the flank steak, reserve half of the sauce and half of the beef in separate containers. Cool and refrigerate and use for the Citrus Beef on Zucchini Ribbons recipe.
Meal 1: Serve the flank steak with roasted broccoli and roasted mini potatoes. (Tip: Cook both veggies on a sheet pan to keep it easy – just be sure to cut the potatoes into small pieces that cook quickly).
Eat Twice: Citrus Beef on Zucchini Ribbons
Another terrifically tasty recipe designed to be Cook Once, Eat Twice! When cooking the Sheet Pan Tenderloin, reserve half of the pork and some of the aioli sauce. Refrigerate and use for the Crusty Cuban-Style Lunch Loaf recipe.
Meal 1: Sheet pan pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes would be super served along with a coleslaw-style salad. (Tip: keep it simple with a pre-packaged slaw salad that you assemble at home)
Eat Twice: Crusty Cuban-Style Lunch Loaf
Meal 2: Add pork tenderloin and aioli to this Crusty Cuban-Style Lunch Loaf. Use a whole grain loaf and add a side of crunchy veggie sticks for an easy, delicious lunch.