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Cook Once, Eat Twice

Cook Once, Eat Twice

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Thank you, fellow moms, for all the comments. I'm excited about bringing you new ideas each week, so check back regularly and keep posting your own tips as well!

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This week's tip: Cook double, then freeze.

While I was pregnant, I had a feeling I would be too swamped to do my usual cooking after baby arrived. (I was right.) So in planning ahead, I would prepare a casserole, stew, or soup and double the recipe. One meal to eat then, one to freeze and eat later. Sounds simple, huh? When put into practice, this tactic created a whole freezer full of ready-made meals. So now, before l leave for work, I choose a freezer-ready meal to thaw. When I get home, all I have to do is warm up dinner. I plan to continue this time-saving practice now that my baby is here. When I do get a chance to cook a meal on the weekend, I'll make it twice. One to eat, and one to freeze.
Here's what I'm making this week: Smoky Slow Cooker Chili.

***Bonus!*** It's done in the slow cooker, so it's really hands-off and freezes beautifully!

Cook Once Eat Twice Recipe Collection

Cook Once Eat Twice is THE place to find meal planning inspiration for recipes that are just as good to eat later as when they are first made. Make-ahead meals and batch cooking make life so much easier. I'm going to share with you some great recipes that I use all the time at home!

Cook Once, Eat Twice: 10 Leftover-Friendly Recipes

Even if you enjoy cooking, making every single meal every single day can get tiring. From ratatouille to spaghetti pie, these leftover-friendly recipes are not only delicious right after serving, but a day (or three) later.

Ratatouille is a bright and chunky summer vegetable stew, rich with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Leftovers can be added to pasta, folded into eggs, spooned or toast, or just eaten cold from the fridge.

Cool and crunchy, this flavorful Asian slaw is a delicious way to eat your colors. It makes a lot so you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

Spaghetti pie is a big affair, impressive in both stature and ingredients — perfect for a hungry crowd or feeding your crew for days.

This Italian meatloaf is basically one big giant meatball. Leftovers make scrumptious meatloaf sandwiches.

Andrea Nguyen’s savory-sweet char siu chicken is hard to resist, and it reheats beautifully.

Stuffed with baby spinach and two kinds of cheese, this spinach frittata makes a lovely brunch, lunch, or light dinner.

This grilled salmon with a tangy cucumber salad makes a light and easy weeknight dinner — and the leftovers are good cold.

In this German potato salad, the typical American mayo dressing is replaced with pickled onions and a tangy vinaigrette.

Omitting the crust cuts down on prep time, cook time, and carbs — and the cheesy custard is the best part anyway. Make two so you’ll have extra to reheat throughout the week.

With layers of corn tortillas, spicy ground beef, salsa and cheese, this stacked beef enchilada casserole is a huge family pleaser — and it reheats well, too.

Cook Once, Eat Twice Recipes

Save time in the kitchen with 5 recipes that can be easily repurposed into 5 new and delicious meals.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Turn 5 recipes into completely new and delicious versions.

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In addition to the 5 recipes (actually 10 recipes, since you’ll be making completely new meals!), we’ve included our popular Repurposing Leftovers & Leftover Ingredients infographic in the download to give you more ideas of how to repurpose any other kinds of leftovers.

This mini recipe book and guide will be just the start, as we know you’ll come up with your own creative repurposing ideas.

Of course, if you’d rather we just take care of it, our meal plan service is ALWAYS at your service.

As always, we’re here to help you live your best life in the kitchen. Join our cooking community by signing up for our newsletter below, and we’ll send you great cooking tips and resources that will help you raise your kitchen IQ and cook with confidence.

Cook Once, Eat Twice // A Week’s Worth of Recipes

As you and your family have adjusted to the new normal during a national pandemic, how is dinnertime going? Have you found solace in spending more time at the table with your family? Or has more family time at home created more work, and less time to be productive? I find myself caught somewhere in the middle. More time with my family is always a plus, but having four little people under my feet every hour of the day does come with challenges. I’ve found myself looking for ways to reign it all in and lessen the chaos.

Dinnertime always seems to be a rough part of the day. Family members are tired and hungry – ready for a good meal and some relaxation. Having a head start on dinner makes mealtime more pleasant and less of a burden. You can put a healthy meal on the table quickly, with a little planning.

My favorite method of menu planning is the cook once, eat twice method. It doesn’t take much longer to cook a little extra of something. In fact, it will save you time as you prepare your next meal, using the same ingredient. With the cook once, eat twice method, you plan your meals around key foods that can be prepared in larger quantities. You then use the extra to create a totally different meal the next day, or later in the week. Let me walk you through an example of how to use the cook once, eat twice method. You can find all of the recipes mentioned by clicking here.

Monday – Chicken and Gravy

  • In the morning, place 3-4 pounds thawed chicken breasts in the slow cooker with 2 (15 oz.) cans of low-sodium chicken broth, 4 tsp. onion powder, 2 tsp. garlic powder, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken on low until dinner time. Shred with a fork. Separate out what you need for tonight’s meal. Divide the rest between 2 storage containers and refrigerate.
  • At dinnertime, boil water to cook a large batch of rice – enough for 4 meals. Once cooked, separate out what you need for tonight’s meal. Divide the rest between 3 storage containers, and freeze.
  • Use the rice and chicken to make Chicken and Gravy for dinner.

Tuesday – Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Cook a large batch of pasta – enough for 3 meals. Once cooked, separate out what you need for tonight’s meal. Divide the rest between 2 storage containers, and refrigerate.
  • Use the prepared chicken from Monday and the pasta to make Chicken Noodle Soup.

Wednesday – Spaghetti

  • Cook ground beef in a skillet – enough for 3 meals. Once cooked, separate out what you need for tonight’s meal. Divide the rest between 2 storage containers, and refrigerate.
  • Use the prepared pasta from Tuesday and the ground beef to make spaghetti.

Thursday – Taco Salad

Friday – BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Saturday – Sloppy Joes & Easy Pasta Salad

  • Use the ground beef from Wednesday to make Sloppy Joes.
  • Use the pasta from Tuesday to make Easy Pasta Salad.
  • Chop extra peppers and onions. Refrigerate them for later.

Sunday – Chicken Fajitas

  • Repeat the process from Monday to cook more chicken. Use some today and freeze the rest for next week.
  • Use chicken, extra veggies from Saturday, and extra rice from Monday to make Chicken Fajitas.

To make this process even easier, keep your pantry and freezer stocked with canned and frozen fruits and vegetables.Take some time at the beginning of the week to chop up veggies and store them in the fridge. You’ll have fruits and veggies you can quickly add to your recipes or to serve on the side. Because you’ll be using leftover foods when you prepare a cook once, eat twice menu plan, you want to follow proper food safety guidelines. tells us that leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months. Frozen foods can be eaten past the 4 month mark, but they can lose flavor and texture over time.

With the cook once, eat twice method, you may have to adapt your recipes a bit. You might have to add seasonings differently or do steps in a different order. Feel free to comment here with questions.

To read even more cook once, eat twice menu planning ideas from Ambassadors all across the State of Utah, click here. Now grab a pen and paper, sit down, and create your cook once eat twice menu plan for the week. Enjoy!

How to Cook Once and Eat Twice

Alice Henneman, MS, RDN, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Do you sometimes feel like a juggler at the circus as you hurry to get dinner ready? Preparing a meal can be like keeping several balls in the air as you bustle back and forth from task to task: Wash! Chop! Mix! Cook! Stir! Boil!

To keep from "dropping the ball" at dinnertime, try a technique of "cook once, eat twice."

Give yourself a break. By planning ahead you can make some of the dinner tasks you're constantly juggling easier. Spend a few extra minutes planning complementary menus where you "cook once and eat twice." Here's how it works.

Plan meals based around key foods prepared in larger amounts for use in one recipe the first night and an entirely different recipe within the next night or two. This is different from making large batches and eating leftovers. Follow these general guidelines to assure your food remains safe and of high quality:

  • Separate out and refrigerate the portion to be served for your next meal before you set the food on the table. This keeps your food quality higher by preventing "planned-overs" from becoming "picked-overs."
  • Promptly refrigerate the food for the next meal to keep it safe. Perishable cooked foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, shouldn't be at room temperature longer than TWO hours TOTAL — that TOTAL is the total of the first and second use.
  • Refrigerate the prepared-ahead food in shallow containers so it cools faster in the refrigerator. For thicker foods — such as stews, hot puddings and layers of meat slices — limit depth of food to 2 inches. Loosely cover food. This allows heat to escape and protects from accidental contamination from other foods during cooling. Stir food occasionally to help it cool use a clean utensil each time. Cover tightly when cooled.
  • As a general rule-of-thumb, use the extra refrigerated food you cooked within one to two days. Freeze for longer storage. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you're ready to use again — never thaw at room temperature.

Examples of Two Day, Two Way Foods

Here are some quick and easy examples of "cook once, eat twice" to get you started. Adapt according to your family preferences and add your own ideas for the different food categories. Think of these as "ACT 1" and "ACT 2" at the circus with something different for each performance!


ACT 1: Cook extra chicken breasts or turkey cutlets. Cover and refrigerate half the chicken or turkey. Top the remaining half with your favorite seasonings or sauce for serving immediately.

ACT 2: The next night, slice the plain cooked chicken or turkey into strips and combine with lettuce and Caesar salad dressing for a main dish salad.

For More Poultry Recipe Ideas: Check the Web sites of the National Turkey Federation and the National Chicken Council.


ACT 1: Make a large batch of plain rice. The first night — while the rice is cooking — prepare a hearty sauce so your rice can be served as the main dish. For example: Add cooked ground beef to tomato sauce flavored with Italian seasoning.

ACT 2: On night two, make fried rice with your favorite veggies and a can of shrimp from your cupboard.

You also can save leftover rice from one night and chicken/turkey from another night and put them together in any number of dishes for night three. Possibilities include: rice-based casseroles, chicken or turkey rice soup and fried rice.

The USA Rice Council recommends that you reheat leftover rice thoroughly before serving. Unless you use the rice in a dish with added liquid, you may need to add a small amount of liquid to your reheated rice. For each cup of cooked rice, the Council advises adding 2 tablespoons liquid. Cover and heat on top of the range or in the oven until heated throughout. In a microwave oven, cover and cook on HIGH about 1 minute per cup.

Rice also freezes well. After cooked rice has cooled in the refrigerator, transfer it to plastic freezer bags in quantities needed for future meals. Label with the date and quantity.

For More Rice Recipe Ideas: Check the USA Rice Council's Web site.


ACT 1: Make a roast the first evening and enjoy part of it.

ACT 2: Slice the rest of your roast for delicious sandwiches or a hearty stew the next night.

For More Meat Recipe Ideas: Check the Web sites of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the Nebraska Beef Council and the National Pork Producers' Council.


ACT 1: Cook macaroni for your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe the first night, plus extra for another recipe.

ACT 2: Extra pasta can be served in a cold dish, such as a pasta salad, at a later meal. You might add some cooked meat from a previous meal to your salad. Another quick and easy pasta possibility for macaroni is to combine it with chili soup for Chili-Mac.

Thoroughly drain pasta that's prepared for IMMEDIATE use in a HOT dish such as macaroni and cheese DO NOT rinse it. The National Pasta Association (NPA) recommends rinsing cooked pasta under cold water ONLY if you plan to use it in a COLD dish, such as a salad, or if you want to save it for later use. The cold water stops the cooking process.

Here are two examples of how to rinse pasta when you're cooking enough for another meal:

* If you're preparing a COLD dish, such as a salad, for your first meal, rinse all the pasta.

* If you're preparing a HOT dish, such as macaroni and cheese, for your first meal, drain the pasta. Then separate out the pasta for your second meal. Rinse just the portion for your second meal under cold water.

NPA advises storing cooked pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You may wish to add a little oil (1-2 teaspoons for each pound of cooked pasta) to help keep cooked pasta from sticking.

For More Pasta Recipe Ideas: Check the Web site of the National Pasta Association.


ACT 1: Use a wide, deep pan to hard-cook enough eggs for two meals. Make egg salad sandwiches the first night.

ACT 2: For your second meal, peel, slice and serve hard-cooked eggs in a hearty main dish salad. Or make deviled eggs.

To Hard-Cook Eggs:

Here are some directions from the American Egg Board for successfully making and storing boiled eggs.

NOTE: Eggs stored for a week to 10 days before cooking usually peel more easily.

For More Egg Recipe Ideas: Check the Web site of the American Egg Board.

Get A New Act!

To see how this works, here are some sample menus for five nights of "cook once, eat twice." Items enjoying two acts at your table are starred (*). Save your menus when you find two-night combos that work well for you.

Turkey Cutlets with Raspberry Glaze (top with a little raspberry jelly)*
Green Beans
Seasoned Rice*
Rolls (store bought)
Lemon Sorbet

Tomato Soup
Hearty Caesar Salad with Turkey Strips (turkey from night 1)*
Garlic bread
Peach and Frozen Yogurt Parfait

Fried Rice and Shrimp (rice from night 1)*
Mandarin Oranges and Fortune Cookies

Beef Roast*
Boiled New Potatoes
Whole Grain Bread
Fresh Strawberries

Beef Sandwiches (beef from night 4)*
Fruit Cup
Frozen Yogurt

By cooking once and serving twice, you can ease your mealtime juggling act. Instead, become the ringmaster! And perhaps, enjoy a little more time to just clown around!

Customer reviews

Top reviews from the United States

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I got this when my kids were 2 and 3, and thought it'd be a great way to spice up leftovers. Now a year later there's not as much leftovers. Plus as a busy mom it's just easier to reheat than create something new if there actually is something left over. The recipes are good, and my mom would probably get a lot more use out of it with less people to feed and therefore a lot more leftovers (plu she cooks like all the kids are home).

Really great idea, but make sure you're not lazy like me, haha.

This is a very good cookbook and shows how to be a little more frugal when cooking by using your crockpot to make one delicious meal and then turning the leftovers into another delicious meal. Would highly suggest this cookbook as a wedding gift, included in a crockpot. Recipes are simple without being bland and there's a section on setting up your kitchen, pantry, etc. Highly recommend this cookbook.

There are lots of color photos and book is printed on nice quality paper.

Make-Once, Eat-Twice Meals

You&rsquoll spend less time cooking if you use twice the ingredients, then freeze half the results. Six recipes that will double your pleasure.

Some nights you really want to cook dinner, and some nights you just want dinner to cook itself. These make-once, eat-twice recipes satisfy both urges.

Prepare a double batch, stash half in the freezer, and when you’re too tired to cook (or just too tired of cooking), pull it out and fire up the oven. Then stick a fork in it―you’re done.


To cook: Roasted-Vegetable and Feta Ziti (shown)
To freeze: Roasted-Vegetable and Feta Ziti does not freeze well as is. For best results, transform it into Cheesy Vegetable Pasta (recipe follows). After preparation, cover with foil and freeze. It will keep frozen for 3 months.
To transform: Cheesy Vegetable Pasta

To cook: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Chili Sauce
To freeze: Place half the pork and sauce in separate freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave. To serve the Roasted Pork Tenderloin as is, slice the thawed pork and arrange it in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for 10 minutes or until heated through. Or place the sliced pork in an ovenproof dish, cover with aluminum foil, and place in a 325º F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Heat the sauce in the microwave or in a small saucepan, then spoon over the pork.
To transform: Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches with Cilantro Slaw

To cook: Quick Chicken Curry
To freeze: Spoon the chicken curry into a freezer container. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave. To serve Quick Chicken Curry as is, cover with plastic wrap and heat in the microwave for 7 to 9 minutes or until heated through, stirring once. Or spoon into an ovenproof baking dish, cover with foil, and place in a 325º F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.
To transform: Curried Chicken Salad with Grapes

How to Prepare Chicken Breast for Your Cook Once Eat Twice Meals

  1. Start by finding Chicken Breast when it’s on sale.
  2. Place your chicken on a cookie sheet and brush with vegetable oil.
  3. Cover your pan with this parchment paper for really fast clean-up.
  4. Generously sprinkle it with my favorite chicken seasoning. I absolutely love using this seasoning and actually use it on much more than chicken. Cook roughly 1 ½ breasts per person in your family. At my house, I would cook 9 chicken breasts, because there are 6 of us.
  5. Bake in the oven at 400 for 25-35 minutes for medium-sized chicken breasts. Make sure juices run clear when the thickest piece is cut. Check to make sure it is 165 degrees.
  6. Serve half of the chicken tonight for dinner, along with a salad and your favorite sides, like potatoes, pasta, or rice.
  7. Then after dinner store the extra chicken in the refrigerator for the next chicken meal that you plan to make.
  8. Pick a quick and easy chicken breast recipe for your second night.
  • How to Batch-Cook Chicken Breasts
  • 10 Easy Shredded Chicken Recipes

15-Minute Meals for Your Pre-Cooked Chicken

  • Chinese Chicken Salad Kit – Mix up a kit from the grocery store and top with chopped chicken.
  • Chicken Alfredo – Boil pasta and serve with Creamy Alfredo Sauce.
  • BBQ Chicken Sandwiches – Chop or shred chicken and mix with your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve on buns with coleslaw and potato chips.
  • Instant Cheesy Chicken and Rice – Follow box instructions to make 4 cups of Instant Minute Rice, stir in chopped chicken, 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup and 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  • Chicken Nachos – Empty a bag of tortilla chips onto a cookie sheet, top with chopped chicken, 1 can of rinsed pinto beans and lots of shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly and serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or whatever else you like.

Try making a big batch of chicken breast this week. If you save enough chicken, you can even make a third meal from the chicken. I bet no one in the family will even know they’re eating leftovers when you repurpose the chicken this way.

15 Minute Meal Planner

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Roll Over Recipes – Cook Once, Eat Twice (or more!)

It has officially started. The kids are back in school and activities are flying by right and left. They come home and we are all tired and hungry. ‘Tis the season for roll over recipes where you cook once and eat twice (at least). Sometimes it is because you can use something and turn it into something new. Other times, you make something like our Kalua Pork and you repurpose it two (or three) ways. The moral of the story is that dinner prep is quick and you can get your crew fed quickly. Take a peek at some of our favorite roll over recipes below: