One of my favourite time saving tips as a busy working mom is to think about family meal planning using the strategy I call, “cook once, eat twice” to create new, reinvented meals—especially in Nutrition Month—but also, any time!
What is the difference between a leftover and a repurposed meal?
Making leftovers by doubling whatever you are cooking so you can have the same meal tomorrow night (or an extra stash in the freezer) is a useful time saving technique. While leftovers can be useful, for some people they can also be boring.
Another option is to transform leftovers into what I consider, a reinvented or repurposed meal. For those that don’t love eating the same thing two days in a row and want to see more variety on their plate, repurposed or reinvented meals are an awesome solution.
To create a repurposed meal, you’ll be thinking about using what I call “planned extras” – cooking extras of one part of the meal to use in a new way the next day. You can try:
- Roasting a whole turkey for dinner tonight and using extras in a new meal with pasta, salad, soup, or even a breakfast, like this Bubble and Squeak, tomorrow.
- Chopping double the amount of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and/or peppers today for your raw veggie tray, to stir-fry or roast the extras in the oven tomorrow.
- Cooking extra potatoes or yams to make shepherd’s pie, potato salad or soup the next day.
- Cooking a double batch of grains such as rice, couscous or quinoa for a new meal, chili, or salad the next day, and incorporating some leftover turkey. Try this Thai-Inspired Turkey Green Curry as an example!
- Cooking a big batch of lentils for a pasta meal tonight and setting aside the extra to stir into a different meal with rice and veggies or lettuce wraps tomorrow.
Now, I’ll show you how to use this Cook Once, Eat Twice method in practice.
I’m using Butterball Boneless Turkey Roast as a “planned extra” for this meal. It’s a lean, go-to protein option for weekday meals, especially because it’s full of zinc, selenium, B6, B12, niacin (B3) and iron, and acts as a high-quality lean protein source.
- On a weekend or ‘work-from-home’ day, cook one or two Butterball Boneless Turkey Roasts from frozen in the oven at 325°F on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. I like to brush it with a little oil to help cook the roast to that beautiful golden brown colour. You’ll simply leave in the oven for approximately 3.5 to 4 hours or until the meat thermometer reads 165°F or 74°C. Be sure to always reference the cooking directions on the package!
- When the turkey is 30 minutes to an hour away from being fully cooked, start assembling your side dishes. Turkey pairs with just about anything, but I like to serve this meal with rice or roasted potatoes and steamed peas and carrots or green beans.
- Continue to prepare your side dishes while you let the roast rest. Then, slice the warm tender turkey and voila–dinner is served!
The next day with the extra roast turkey you’ve already cooked, you can use this to create a second totally different reinvented meal. Since my family are taco fanatics, here’s a simple, no-recipe-required Turkey Taco meal. You could also make a soup, quesadilla, or gourmet grilled cheese!
- All you need to do is slice the Butterball Boneless Turkey Roast into thin strips, squeeze a fresh orange over the turkey and toss with a sprinkle of taco seasoning (or a dash of paprika, cumin, garlic powder and chili powder).
- Next, heat a saucepan or non-stick pan with some oil and sauté thinly sliced onions and red/yellow/orange peppers until tender. Toss in the turkey and heat until warmed. Assemble your tacos with all your favorite toppings such as grated cheese, diced avocado and cilantro or chopped tomato, shredded lettuce and sour cream.
See? It doesn’t have to be hard to prepare meals that aren’t repetitive, but are flavourful and nutritious for the whole family. Head to the recipes page for more turkey recipes, and ways you can repurpose your leftover turkey into new meals!