Cook Once, Eat 3 Times
Starter Dish: Mustard-Glazed Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
Repurposing dishes in unexpected ways saves trips to the grocery store and time in the kitchen. Here, we suggest a recipe to start with, as well as two tasty twists to use up the leftovers.
In this starting trio, the veggies are the star—our chicken recipe makes a big batch for three simple meals.
Second Meal: Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Turnovers
Roasted veggies, spinach, and cream cheese combine to create the flavorful filling in these vegetarian turnovers.
Third Meal: Roasted Vegetable Soup
This rich, pureed soup comes together in just a few short minutes.
Starter Dish: Falafel Pita Sliders
We make falafel patties instead of balls because the wide, flat surface area gets extra crisp when seared and baked, a lighter approach to shallow frying. Use any stuffers you like for the sandwiches, or load up as the Israelis do with a chopped cucumber and tomato salad, pickled cabbage, and tahini sauce.
Second Meal: Falafel Pizza
When a Middle Eastern main takes a trip to Italy via the Mediterranean, you get this fantastic vegetarian pizza. The chopped falafel warms through and toasts until crisp while the pizza bakes. Sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives give this quick pizza its bold, intense flavor (and dried tomatoes won't compromise the crispy base).
Third Meal: Falafel, Feta, and Tomato Salad
Think of chopped falafel as a tasty, protein-packed crouton—it adds texture to the salad and instantly turns a simple side into a substantial main dish. We chose a Mediterranean theme here, but you could use any nuts, cheeses, or vegetables you like.
Starter Dish: Spinach Pesto Pasta with Shrimp
Pesto tends to go army green if made ahead. We blanch the spinach and basil to preserve color without diluting flavor. Fresh tomato adds moisture and a mild acidity to the sauce.
Second Meal: Pesto Chicken with Blistered Tomatoes
Here, pesto acts as a binder, helping the crispy panko topping stick to the chicken. Serve with green beans tossed with lemon rind. Garnish with any extra basil you have on hand.
Third Meal: Vegetable Soup au Pistou
A traditional French pistou is a nut-free pesto, but the spinach pesto (or any refrigerated brand) is delicious here. Don't rinse the canned beans after draining; any remaining starches will help bring the soup together.
Starter Dish: BBQ-Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes
Bake a fleet of spuds for stuffed bakers tonight, and then transform into crispy cakes and creamy risotto. The first night, a homemade BBQ sauce helps you cut down on sodium and tops roasted sweet potatoes packed with pork tenderloin.
Second Meal: Sweet Potato Cakes with Chicken and Poblano Relish
Leftover roasted potatoes make the crispiest cakes, a great base for the chicken and zingy poblano topper.
Third Meal: Sweet Potato-and-Mushroom Risotto
When two starchy, creamy elements combine, the result is pure comfort. Pureed sweet potatoes give this risotto a golden hue and a subtle sweetness. For a little crunch, you can try sprinkling each serving with crumbled bacon or toasted nuts (hazelnuts or pecans would be delicious).
Starter Dish: Smoky Black-Eyed Peas
Enjoy a batch of black-eyed peas tonight, and use them to top fish or stuff squash during the week.
Serve these black-eyed peas with collard greens and cornbread for a Southern New Year's feast. All 3 dishes symbolize good fortune; they're also just plain delicious. If you can't find a ham hock, substitute a smoked turkey leg or wing. Add cooked peas to stews or salsa, or sauté with rice, garlic, and bell pepper for hoppin' John. Use leftover ham hock meat as a flavoring agent for greens, beans, and broths.
Second Meal: Seared Grouper with Black-Eyed Pea Relish
This zingy relish only gets better as it sits; make a couple of days ahead, if you like. You can also dice the cherry tomatoes and serve the relish with whole-grain tortilla chips for a snack. Use any flaky fish, such as sustainably caught halibut or cod, or try the relish on meaty salmon.
Third Meal: Black-eyed Pea-Stuffed Acorn Squash
Cutting the squashes crosswise instead of from top to bottom is easier, and they take up less space in the baking dish. Trim the ends so the halves sit flat and don't wobble.
Starter Dish: Mustard-Glazed Salmon with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Serve a side of creamy mashed potatoes for a dinner party tonight; then transform leftovers into bad-and-take potluck casseroles for later.
Serve this with roasted veggies: Combine 8 ounces each halved Brussels sprouts and carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, with 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes or until tender, stirring after 15 minutes.
Second Meal: Forager's Pie
The addition of mushrooms—what a forager might find—makes for a delicious twist on classic shepherd's pie.
Third Meal: Buttermilk Potato, Chicken, and Cheddar Casserole
Poaching bone-in chicken breasts in stock yields tender, juicy meat—use this method for enchiladas and chicken salad too. For an extra bit of crunch and concentrated onion flavor, sprinkle 1/4 cup dried minced onion over the casserole. You could also use toasted breadcrumbs or crushed baked potato chips.
Starter Dish: Braised Collard Greens and Bacon-Pepper Pinto Beans
We skip the meat main and make sides the focus of the meal—easy to do with garlicky braised greens and pinto beans topped with bacon. Serve with skillet cornbread: Heat a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop while the oven preheats, and swirl in a couple of teaspoons oil before adding the batter. If you can't find collards, substitute stemmed curly kale or turnip greens, checking for doneness at around 20 minutes. For a vegetarian meal, sub vegetable stock for chicken stock and 1 tablespoon canola oil for the bacon drippings.
Sautéed Snapper with Curried Greens
The greens become wonderfully silky and aromatic once stirred into a fragrant of broth of coconut milk, curry powder, garlic, and fresh ginger. Since the greens are already cooked, they only need to be warmed through in the sauce. If you haven't made a batch of greens, stir in fresh spinach until wilted. Top with any mild, firm white fish, chicken, or shrimp. Chicken or shrimp would also be fine substitutes. Serve each bowl with a lime wedge; a squeeze brings the whole dish together.
Third Meal: Smoky Potato and Greens Tacos
Cooked greens and crispy potatoes are great as a base for a skillet hash, but why not try something new? Pile into lightly charred corn tortillas, and top with vibrant toppings such as fresh cilantro and radishes to turn a one-note leftover into a tasty, satisfying main. Our trick for crispy potatoes without the added fat: After boiling and draining, we spread them out on paper towels to remove any extra moisture, then stir occasionally as they sauté for even browning on all sides. If you're starting without a batch of collard greens, wilt or sauté any hearty green like kale or chard.
Starter Dish: Smoky Beef and Poblano Chili
Cook up a big batch of chili for game day; then enjoy a Southwestern potpie and hearty pasta dish during the week. Cook the beef in batches to ensure quick, even browning. No need to chop or blend the tomatoes; simply squeeze them right over the pan to gently break them apart. Complete the meal with a baby kale, red cabbage, and radish salad dressed with fresh lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Second Meal: Chili Potpie with Cheddar Biscuits
We thicken the chili slightly, stir in more fresh fall vegetables, and bake with a flaky cheddar biscuit topper for a fun, fast take on a classic potpie.
Third Meal: Chili Stroganoff
Warm spices like cinnamon and paprika round out the chili for a hearty meat sauce with plenty of depth. Serve with sautéed Brussels sprouts or simply steamed haricots verts or broccoli florets.
Starter Dish: Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs
A big batch of meatballs transforms from comfort food tonight to global twists during the week. Pork adds richness, but you can use all beef if you prefer. If you won't be using the rest of the meatballs soon, freeze them in a zip-top bag for up to 2 months; thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve this dish with mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts for an easy dinner. Use leftovers on top of Banh Mi Bowls, or stuff them into pitas for a Greek-style sandwich.
Second Meal: Banh Mi Bowls
We deconstruct the classic Vietnamese sandwich for a whole-grain bowl that's perfect for make-ahead lunches or dinner. Precooked brown rice takes the place of the traditional baguette. Our quick vegetables are ready in just 20 minutes. If you haven't pickled your own vegetables before, you'll be surprised by how easy it is. Not sure how to use the rest of the chile paste? Try tossing green beans with a couple teaspoons (along with honey, soy sauce, garlic, and canola oil) and roasting, spread a little on grilled cheese, or try it in our Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu.
Third Meal: Greek Stuffed Pitas
The Sheet Pan Swedish Meatballs from the first night help you put dinner on the table in just 20 minutes. Pack them into whole-wheat pitas along with our yogurt and cabbage mixtures. Spread the cucumber-yogurt sauce inside the pita first so you get a cool contrast with every bite of the spiced meatballs. Even if you're tempted to use nonfat Greek yogurt, don't. The 2% yogurt is what gives the sauce its satisfying flavor and texture. If you're wary of slicing red cabbage, you could always use a store-bought coleslaw mix, however the color won't be red (and not nearly as pretty).
Starter Dish: Red Wine-Marinated Steaks with Grilled Vegetables
Throw an extra flank steak on the grill for a Cali-inspired salad, an Italian steak-and-grilled-veggie main, and a Texas-style hash.
Second Meal: California Steak Salad
This salad is ideal for cold grilled steak, as reheating may overcook the meat or cause the basil and arugula to wilt. Grilling the red onion adds another layer of char and a bit of sweetness to counter the tartness of the vinaigrette.
Third Meal: Texas Barbecue Hash
Hash is the king of reinvented leftovers. Here we've added a Southern barbecue spin.
Starter Dish: Snapper Fra Diavolo
Simmer fresh summer tomatoes for poached snapper tonight; then try loaded subs and Creole shrimp during the week.
For night one, a fresno chile gives the devilish sauce its heat.
Second Meal: Open-Faced Meatball Subs
For night two, those fresh summer tomatoes become a sauce for smothering turkey meatballs. Grab a knife and for for these mile-high Italian subs.
Third Meal: Creole Shrimp and Okra
Think of this main as shrimp and grits with a distinctly Cajun attitude. Halved okra not only looks gorgeous, but it'll also give off less "slime" than chopped okra. Let the vegetables caramelize a bit in the pan for a richer base. Just need sauce for this meal? Simmer 1 pound pureed fresh tomatoes for 15 minutes. Add to pan in step 2.
Starter Dish: Zucchini-Ricotta Pizza
Mix up extra dough for a summery pie tonight, and enjoy cheesy calzones and a Tuscan-style salad during the week.
Keep it easy for your first meal. Roll the dough out on parchment paper, and place the paper right on the hot pizza stone.
Second Meal: Shrimp Panzanella
Transform leftover dough into homemade croutons to top tonight's savory summer salad bursting with vine-ripened tomatoes, English cucumber, plump shrimp, and peppery arugula.
Third Meal: Broccoli, Cheddar, and Ranch Chicken Calzones
Finally, the pizza dough from night one becomes a crunchy calzone stuffed with fresh broccoli florets and rotisserie chicken dressed in a buttermilk dill sauce.
Starter Dish: Chorizo and Kale-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Use a batch of spicy chorizo to stuff spuds tonight; then load up nachos and stir into tomato sauce during the week.
A combo of superlean ground turkey and rich ground pork gives you the ideal mix of flavor and texture while staying nice and light.