By the time dinner rolls around, you’ve barely had time to think about the options, let alone cook anything. But you’ve got to eat! And it’s important to eat well. So what do you do? 

Cook Once, Eat Twice! 

When it comes to getting meals on the table, planning is just as important, if not more so, than the actual cooking. The why the “Cook Once, Eat Twice” concept is so brilliant. Here's how it works: 

You plan a main meal around food(s) prepared in larger amounts for use in one recipe the first day. Then you make an entirely different recipe within the next day or two, using the remaining food you’ve already prepared. This is different from making large batches and eating leftovers. Leftovers are more of the same, which can get really boring really fast. Cook Once, Eat Twice means experiencing an entirely new sensation of flavors, with far less work then it would take to prepare a whole new meal. 

Here are two sets of Cook Once, Eat Twice recipes for you to try:

COOK ONCE RECIPE #1: CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP 

This easy-to-make soup, made with chicken, tomatoes, garlic and a little lime juice, hits the spot every time. You can dress it up with shredded cheese, avocados, cilantro and diced green onions. Deciding which condiments to use is half the fun! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 TB minced garlic
  • 2 jalapenos, finely diced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained 6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1-2 corn tortillas, grilled, cut into thin strips
  • 1 avocado, pitted, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey cheese 

Method:

1.    In a large saucepan heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes.

2.    Once the onions have softened, add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for another minute.

3.    Pour the chicken stock, tomatoes and beans into the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil lower heat to simmer and add your chicken breasts. Cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes.

4.    When chicken is cooked remove from pot. Once cool enough to handle, shred it and set half of it aside on a separate plate. Allow this half to fully cool prior to storing it in the refrigerator for the next meal.

5.    Add lime juice and fresh cilantro to the pot. In a serving bowl add a mound of shredded chicken. Ladle soup over chicken and top with grilled tortilla strips, avocado slices and cheese. Feel free to add other condiments to suit your taste.

Yield:

Serves 4 to 6, with leftover shredded chicken


EAT TWICE RECIPE #1: HUEVOS RANCHEROS VERDES WITH SHREDDED CHICKEN 

This classic Mexican dish makes for a comforting dinner. Traditionally made with a red tomato- based sauce, this recipe calls for a tangy green salsa instead. You can easily make this without the shredded chicken if you don’t have any extra on hand. Serve with fresh slices of ripe avocado. (Adapted from EatingWell Magazine.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 2 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup prepared green salsa (sometimes labeled salsa verde or tomatillo salsa) 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1-2 TB chicken stock
  • Remaining shredded chicken 
  •  

Method: 

1.    Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine lettuce, scallion, cilantro, 1 teaspoon oil, lime juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl; set aside. Combine beans and salsa in another bowl.

2.    Coat both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray. Place tortillas on a large baking sheet in 4 sets of overlapping pairs. (Each pair should overlap by about 3 inches.) Spread about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture on top of each pair of tortillas and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cheese each. Bake until the beans are hot and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. 

3.    Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack each egg into a small bowl and slip them one at a time into the pan, taking care not to break the yolks, cooking in batches if needed. Season the eggs with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook undisturbed for 5 to 7 minutes for soft-set yolks. (For hard-set yolks, cover the pan after 5 minutes and continue cooking until the yolks are cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes more.)

4.    Also in the meantime, heat 1-2 TB of chicken stock over medium heat. Add shredded chicken, cooking for 3 minutes or so, just until warmed through.

5.    To assemble, place two eggs on top of each pair of tortillas and top with a generous 1/4 cup of the lettuce mixture, followed by 1/4 of the shredded chicken.

 

Yield:

Serves 4


COOK ONCE RECIPE #2: BLACK BEAN AND SWEET POTATO CAKES 

Another nod to dear Ms. Martha Stewart. We’ve been making these black bean and sweet potato cakes in our house for a long time. This always gets a warm welcome from my kids! 

Ingredients:

  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 9 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno chiles, finely chopped (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired) 1.5 TB ground cumin
  • 3 cans (15.5 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated (2 cups)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • Lime Sour Cream (see recipe, below) 

Method:

1.    Heat broiler. In a small skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook scallions until softened, 1 minute. Add garlic, jalapeno, and cumin; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl.

2.    Add beans to bowl; mash with a fork or a potato masher, leaving about 1/4 of the beans whole. Season generously with salt and pepper. Fold in sweet potato, egg, and breadcrumbs. Divide into 12 balls, 8 of equal size and 4 that are slightly larger; flatten into patties.

3.    Brush a baking sheet with remaining tablespoon oil; place patties on sheet, 1/2 inch apart. Broil 4 inches from heat until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. With a thin metal spatula, carefully turn cakes. Broil until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve with Lime Sour Cream.

4.    For the Lime Sour Cream: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream with 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice and 1 small minced jalapeno chile (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired) season with coarse salt.

 

Yield:

Serves 4 (with 4 leftover cakes for tomorrow’s meal)


EAT TWICE RECIPE #2: BLACK BEAN BURGERS

If it’s on a bun with ketchup and mustard then my kids perceive it to be a burger. This feels like a completely different meal to them, and to us, even though the primary ingredient hasn’t changed. 

A great vegetarian burger that the whole family can enjoy! 

Ingredients:

  • 4 black bean and sweet potato cakes
  • 4 slices of cheddar cheese
  • 4 whole grain hamburger buns
  • Sliced pickles
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced onions
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard 

Method:

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees 

2.    Heat the black bean burgers in the oven for about 8 minutes, topping with a slice of cheddar cheese about half way through. Toast the buns for 2-3 minutes.

3.    Place one burger on bottom bun. Top with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. Spread ketchup and mustard on top bun. Assemble burger.

Yield:

Serves 4