It’s getting colder, the leaves have changed to a gorgeous array of colors, and I find myself wanting all my favorite comfort foods as we go into fall and the holiday season. This time of year is almost always busy, and I end up checking my calendar more often as we add things to the to-do list because I’m always running, running, running through the holidays. I don’t know if you feel the same way, but honestly, sometimes the fall and holiday season end up exhausting me because there’s just so much on my plate!
To try to simplify my plate and maybe help you simplify yours, I’d like to share a few of my favorite recipes that do double duty during busy weeks. These are recipes that can stretch from one meal into the next. If you’re a busy mom, you know there are times when you just really have to have some backup easy meals, but it also helps if you have a few recipes that can make multiple nights easy.
That’s where these recipes come in. I’m going to share four of my favorite recipes that you can make and find multiple uses for. Before that, though, I thought I’d share some of the most common things you can do to take one thing and make it stretch across multiple meals.
- Dump several chicken breasts or boneless thighs into the crockpot with your favorite seasonings for a simple meal to go with a veggie. Shred the meat and pack the leftovers away for a delicious homemade chicken noodle soup or chicken and rice casserole.
- When you make rice, make extra and put it in the fridge. The next day, it can easily go into a stir fry, which can get extra convenient if you buy the frozen stir fry vegetable bags and bottled sauces. Just grab your choice of protein to cook up before stir frying the rest of your items, and you have a pretty quick and easy meal.
- Make a roasted root vegetable medley for dinner one night with some simple seasonings. (I like to roast carrots, potatoes, turnips, radishes, and onions with some garlic, salt, and pepper.) If you have a decent amount leftover, you can save it and make it into a healthy breakfast hash in the morning by frying it up with eggs and a little bit of cheese.
- Anytime you have vegetables leftover from a meal, you can toss the leftovers into a bag or container and freeze them. When you have enough, they can go into an excellent vegetable soup for an easy night. In fact, you might want to check out my vegetable soup recipe below!
These are just a couple ways you can take one item and turn it into several different meals, and I hope they help when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about the busy week(s) to come!
Now I want to share a couple of my favorite easy recipes for doing double duty:
First up is Italian Sandwich Beef!
2-3 lbs chuck roast
1 packet Italian dressing mix
1-2 jars pepperoncini
Cheese of preference
Place your chuck roast in the bottom of a slow cooker and pour the dressing mix over it. Pour 1-2 jars of pepperoncinis and juice over the entire thing (depending on how much spice you like and how large your roast is). Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When finished, shred your beef in the crockpot and pile it onto hoagie rolls with your favorite cheese and pepperoncini for garnish.
Depending on how much beef you have leftover, you can save that to flavor my favorite Vegetable Soup recipe that my granny gave me.
2-3 bags of frozen mixed vegetables (can use the store-bought bags or freeze leftover vegetables of your choice for this)
1 bay leaf
½-1 lb. leftover Italian sandwich beef, shredded
½-1 tsp. Chili powder
64 ozs. Tomato juice
In a large stockpot, add the vegetables, shredded beef, bay leaf, and tomato juice. Stir in chili powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Heat on medium-low until boiling, then lower heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes until vegetables and beef are heated through.
Those two recipes are pretty simple ones that can easily work together for two different meals, and if you need a couple more ideas, here’s my mom’s Meatloaf recipe, which I’ll go ahead and tell you is not your average meatloaf and tastes amazing (without ketchup even)!
1 lb. ground beef
½ lb. sausage
1 cup white rice, cooked
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
½-1 cup diced onions & bell peppers, sauteed (optional)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Tomato juice, sauce, or paste
Mix beef, sausage, rice, half of the diced tomatoes, sauteed onions and peppers (if using), and egg in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine well and form into a loaf shape. Place in a loaf pan and cover with remaining diced tomatoes and/or juice, sauce, or paste. (Note: this recipe works well with any of the listed options to cover and provide moisture for your meatloaf, so it’s really up to your personal preferences.) Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
I know lots of people like meatloaf sandwiches for leftovers, but I actually like taking my leftover meatloaf, specifically this recipe, and turning it into Meatloaf Stuffed Peppers.
¼-½ loaf leftover meatloaf
2-3 green bell peppers, tops removed and seeds/membranes discarded
1 15-oz. Can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. basil, dried
Shredded mozzarella cheese, to taste
Heat a deep pot of water to boiling, carefully add bell peppers to water and parboil for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened. Using tongs, remove from water and pour out any hot water remaining inside the peppers. Arrange in a casserole dish. Break apart leftover meatloaf into small chunks and fill peppers with meatloaf. Mix basil with tomato sauce in a separate bowl and then pour over and around peppers. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until heated through.