Sometimes one of the best things you can do for yourself is cook up a lot of something and then use it throughout the whole week. What type of something, though? That’s for you to decide, but we’ll help by pulling options for you to pick from.
Below are foods you can make and use throughout the week to make dinner faster, with spinoff recipe ideas included.
Simply Perfect Pot of Beans, pictured above. A pound of beans can get you far. This recipe yields about 6 cups of beans, plus the liquid, which you don’t want to throw away — it’s brimming with flavor! You could, of course, just eat these brothy beans with toast every night until you’re scraping the bottom of the pot, but it may be more fun to use the beans to make other dishes. For these purposes, we’ll suppose you’ve made a pot of white beans such as cannellini. You can then make:
Pulled King Trumpet Mushrooms. Scale this recipe up, and you’ll have delicious, sticky, chewy mushrooms for plenty of uses. Imagine these barbecue-flavored mushrooms piled up in a sandwich with a good slaw? Or on top of a heap of sticky rice, with a pile of cool quick-pickled veggies? Or even nestled into a taco and topped with a salsa?
Big-Batch, Pantry-Friendly Tomato Sauce. A tomato sauce at the ready can come in super-handy. This recipe yields 24 servings, which you can portion and store in the freezer as you like so that you can pop a portion into the fridge the day before when you want to use it. This sauce gets you that much closer to:
Spicy Chicken Parm. Having sauce at the ready means you can focus on making your chicken crispy.
Overnight Chicken. Writer Sara Franklin dubbed this method “analog sous-vide,” yielding perfectly cooked chicken without a fancy gadget or effort. Having chicken at the ready can be a gateway to a lot of different meals, though, of course, if you aren’t into the overnight cooking idea, a simple roast chicken can give you the same effect. Use this to make:
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas. When the chicken’s ready, all you need to do is wrap in tortillas, cover in sauce and cheese, then bake.
Thukpa. This Tibetan chicken noodle soup has tons of warming flavor and bright veggies.
Classic Basil Pesto. Pesto is a beloved sauce for many reasons. Packed with tasty basil and nutty goodness, pesto can add instant flavor wherever you put it. Make a large batch of this pesto, and then the below recipes are that much easier for you:
Lasagna al Pesto. If you still want to make a true showstopper for dinner, having one component (in this case, pesto) made ahead of time makes things much easier.
Cooked Eggs. Our in-house favorite way to hard-cook eggs is to steam them, though you can do this however you like. You may also consider medium- or soft-cooking your eggs — soft-cooked and medium-cooked eggs will last about two days in the fridge, while hard-cooked can last up to a week. Once you have them though, they’re such easy protein to add to so many meals. Here are some ways to use them once you have them ready to go:
Marinated Ramen Eggs. If your eggs are soft- or medium-cooked, you can extend their shelf life by a day by giving them a bath in mirin, soy sauce and rice vinegar. You can then use them to top your morning toast, float in your noodles and more.
Classic Egg Salad. Simple egg salad, served on toast or crackers or even with crunchy crudite makes an excellent meal when you’re in a rush.
Meatballs. There are so many types of meatballs and so many ways to use them. The below recipes feature different types of meatballs, but you can make just one type in bulk and use it interchangeably in these recipes pretty effectively.