Welcome to our new series of weekly meal plans! This month, Summer Miller will be sharing with us what meal planning looks like in her house. Summer is a mom, a full-time food writer, and also helps test the fabulous recipes we bring you every week at Our Site.
Life is busy. Leftovers are nice.
Eating leftovers wasn’t at the top of my “to do” list when I was a single 20-something. Now that I’m feeding a family of four, and doing so three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, I welcome the opportunity to double up a dish so I can freeze some for later or pack it up for lunches the next day.
This change in lifestyle was dictated by more than just having a family. I moved to the country several years ago, and no one delivers pizza to a rural address. If I want to eat, I have to make it.
Learning to think ahead took some time, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. I generally have something at the ready when work deadlines collide with getting dinner on the table, or when the kitchen is in shambles after a day of recipe testing, or when I’m not feeling so great myself and still have mouths to feed. (It turns out you still have to feed your children even when you’re sick and your husband is out town. Who knew?)
Once you establish the habit of cooking with leftovers in mind, I think it is actually more convenient than picking up take-out. It’s certainly healthier than what shows up at your door in a cardboard box!
Each recipe in this week’s meal plan is either large enough to feed an army or is easily doubled, and the leftovers will either last all week or can be frozen for later. A few of the recipes require a little heavy lifting on the weekend, but the payoff comes when you’re eating home-cooked comfort food on Wednesday and you didn’t even need to bring out your cutting board.
1 Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms: This rich and filling stew makes enough for Sunday dinner, then pack the leftovers in lunchboxes for the rest of the week. If you have time, make these potato dinner rolls – they are simple to make and you can freeze them, too!
2 Baked Vegetable and Cream Cheese Wontons: Spend a little time on Saturday or Sunday assembling these wontons, then freeze them. Bake them straight from the freezer for a quick weeknight dinner, or save them to serve as an appetizer at an impromptu party. The recipe makes about fifty wontons, and makes a fun family meal with some miso soup or stir-fried greens on the side.
3 Black Bean Burrito Bowls: Burrito bowls are one of my favorite meals, but rice and dry beans can both take a while to cook. I usually make double batches of both things on Sunday. They freeze beautifully, and thaw quickly, which makes them ready when I am!
4 Mini Salmon Quiches: These little quiche bites are a universal food. They are perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. Serve them with a salad, like this Quinoa, Feta, and Arugula Salad, and you have a quick and light weeknight meal. This recipe makes twelve mini-quiches, but they’re so fast to make that you can easily double it. Freeze the leftovers and save them for a rainy day.
5 Pasta Skillet with Chicken Sausage, Cheese, and Spinach: You’ve made it to Friday! Yay! You should have enough leftovers in the fridge or the freezer to make this weekend kitchen-free. Cook up this nearly effortless skillet pasta, then pour yourself a hot toddy, watch Netflix and chill. (If you like, lighten the load of this carb-loving dish by serving it with this lemon and garlic-kissed broccolini recipe.)