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Double Duty Dinners: Cook Once and Get Twice the Yum

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Cook once, eat twice. This has long been one of the tenets I follow when it comes to feeding my family and following this practice has saved me uncountable amounts of time and money. It’s especially useful in the late spring/summer when you’d rather be playing outside with the kids instead of stuck in the kitchen cooking a new dinner each night of the week.

For example, why roast one chicken when it takes the same amount of time and energy to roast two? Why make a single batch of Bolognese when it can easily be doubled, tripled and even quadrupled? Double duty dinners are a great way to cut down on cooking time, save money at the grocery store, and help to keep your healthy eating goals in check. In short, we really can’t afford to not be eating this way. If you have your doubts, I can further reassure you: prolific food writer Julia Turshen has a book on the topic coming out this fall, pretty much guaranteeing this style of eating will only grow in popularity.

Tips for cooking once and eating twice:

  • Use your freezer! Double your favourite recipes and save one portion for another day’s dinner by freezing it. These chicken enchiladas are an excellent example of this cooking practice (and I’ve heard from several who’ve tried the recipe to say it’s a total hit with their family).
  • When you’re firing up the grill, cook two or more nights’ meals at the same time. This can be a double batch of the same recipe, or two different dishes cooked at the same time (i.e. beef kebabs and chicken drumsticks). Place the unused meat in a lidded container in the fridge and reheat it when you’re ready to serve it later in the week.

Looking for more specific dinner ideas? Here are four of my favourite recipes for turning one meal into two.

Double Duty Dinner #1: Roast Chicken

Follow your favourite roast chicken recipe, but make two chickens instead of one. Serve the first with a cold grain salad and fresh veggies. Carve the second and use the meat to make chicken club wraps (chicken, bacon, tomato, lettuce, mayo) on a different night later in the week or a chicken club cobb salad.

Double Duty Dinner #2: Black Bean Soup

Make a batch of your favourite black bean soup and serve as is with toppings of choice. Use the leftover soup to make tacos. Drain the soup to remove the liquid and use the bean and veggie mixture as a taco filling.

Double Duty Dinner #3: Roasted Salmon

Roast a side of salmon for dinner and serve it with your favourite grilled or roasted vegetables. Combine chunks of leftover salmon with a beaten egg, breadcrumbs, chopped green onions and a few tablespoons of teriyaki sauce and make salmon burgers to serve on toasted buns. Top with pineapple salsa, if desired.

Double Duty Dinner #4: Turkey Meatballs

A large batch of turkey pesto meatballs (see recipe below) can be served with a room temperature couscous salad, or a side of rice. Use the leftovers to make a quick weeknight pizza with naan as the base (see recipe below).

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

2 lbs. ground turkey meat

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

½ cup pesto

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients  except the olive oil in a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands just until combined. Take care not to overmix the meat mixture as the meatballs will become tough.
  3. Divide the meat into 24 equal sized portions and roll into balls. Place on the prepared baking pan.
  4. Brush the meatballs with the olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

 

Turkey Meatballs Pizzas

Layer marinara or pizza sauce, grated mozzarella and sliced leftover meatballs over 7-inch naan rounds. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes ate 375° or until the cheese is melted and the naan is lightly crisp and golden brown.

 

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