Cook Once, Eat Twice Meal Ideas

Bowl of grilled chicken caesar salad

While I love to cook, there are definitely days when the thought of putting together dinner makes me cringe. Either I’m low on time, something unexpected came up, or let’s be honest, I just don’t feel like cooking. When this happens, I turn to my freezer for home cooked meals I’ve prepared weeks in advance for a night such as this. Or, I take a gander in the fridge and see what leftovers I can repurpose for a meal that’s super quick to throw together. I’ll share with you some tips for cook once, eat twice meals.

When I’m really prepared, I try to plan a week’s worth of meals. This way, I don’t have to make runs to the grocery store or stress out about what’s for dinner. Even when I’ve planned the whole week, I try to squeeze in a few recipes that I know will have leftovers and then plan to use them in a “new” meal the next night. Or I know I’m already prepping a labor intensive meal that doesn’t take that much longer to make a double batch and I stick it in the freezer for a night down the road where I don’t feel like cooking.

Here are some foods that I frequently make in double batches and freeze. They freeze great and reheat or cook quickly (with little to no effort – bonus!):

  • Soups, chilis, stews
  • Tomato sauce
  • Meatballs
  • Lasagna (uncooked)
  • Curry
  • Pulled pork (crock pot)
  • Quiche (fully cooked)
  • Pesto sauce – while not a meal, I like to freeze pesto in ice cube trays then pop into a freezer bag for a quick pasta night meal

When possible, I like to freeze in reusable freezer bags – they freeze flat and take up less room. Obviously doesn’t work for a tray of lasagna, but you get the idea.

Now onto some ideas for repurposing leftovers. This is just a small list – feel free to get creative! And if you know that most of the dish will be used up in night one, increase the amount (even double) so you have enough for the next night:

  • Leftover taco meat from taco night?
    • Taco salads
  • Extra grilled chicken?
  • Extra grilled veggies from a side dish?
    • Veggie quesadilla
    • Add to a salad or topping on a sandwich
    • Make an egg scramble, omelet, or quiche
    • Stir fry
    • Toss with pasta for a pasta primavera
    • Serve over cheesy polenta
  • Leftover brisket in the crock pot or from the oven?
    • Sloppy joes
  • Baked roast pork or beef?
    • Leftover sandwiches (French Dip, Vietnamese inspired Banh Mi)
    • Stir fry
    • Serve sliced meat over vermicelli – either hot or cold
    • Pork tacos
  • Grilled steak
    • Fajitas
  • Roasted chicken
    • Chicken pot pies
    • Chicken pizza
    • Baked into a casserole
    • Quick chicken soup
  • Grilled or pan seared fish

Hopefully this list of cook once, eat twice meals will help you reduce your dinner stress! Your family won’t even know that it’s leftover night.