Cook Once, Eat Twice

April 28,2009
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

One of the best ways to make your weekday meals come together quicker and easier, is the old “cook once, eat twice” method. I first heard of this idea through my mom who had heard of it from a friend, who probably heard of it from a friend and so on. The idea behind “cook once, eat twice,” is that you can limit your cooking during the week without limiting the quality or healthfulness of the food you prepare. For instance, you might cook extra pork when you prepare a roast pork, and then use the extra pork for pulled pork BBQ sandwiches or perhaps pork egg rolls later in the week. I have to be honest, as ideal as this idea sounds to me, I rarely exercise it during my meal planning. I do not have a good reason why, it just has never been my habit to do so, and therefore, I just don’t do it. But as life gets more hectic for us, and with summer quickly approaching (the season I don’t love spending copious time in the kitchen), I am trying to change my mindset about the ole’ “cook once, eat twice” motto. So it was this thinking that led me to a fabulous epiphany last week. I had whipped up my favorite slow cooker recipe, Chicken Fiesta Soup on a cool rainy day. But in a moment of desperation and inspiration, I did two things differently. First, out of desperation, I placed the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the slow cooker frozen (after a quick zap in the microwave so they were not in just one big hunk, all stuck together). My suspicion was confirmed when the chicken cooked fully and beautifully, despite beginning the day frozen. Second, in a moment of inspiration, I doubled the amount of chicken that the recipe lists. This allowed me to have cooked chicken to use in chicken salad and chicken enchiladas, which I assembled and popped in the freezer for later use. When I think of how many easy and quick recipes call for a certain number of cups of cooked chicken, I realized how easy this slow cooker method was to have extra on hand for a future meal. But wait, it gets better… After we ate the soup for a meal and a leftover lunch last week, the weather warmed up significantly and suddenly soup didn’t sound so hot (ha!) on a 80ish degree weather day. So I strained out the beans and vegetables: And gave them a good mash: And made quesadillas! Easy peasy. This whole cook once, eat twice thing? Brilliant. SPC