Not too long ago, I made a mistake. It was a cooking mistake, and I knew better. All you ever hear in the food world is the importance of good ingredients. Why can’t I just learn from the experts? Why do I have to fail myself? Sigh… I wasted a huge pot of food that Cooking Day.
This chili recipe has quite a few ingredients, I acknowledge that. But it’s honestly very easy to make. And a lot of the ingredients are pantry staples. And it’s so good. And it gets better throughout the week. Make-ahead heaven, I tell ya.
Making large quantities of several meals on your Cooking Day just makes good sense. You’re maximizing the time spent in the kitchen, plus you can stock the freezer for future use. (Economies of Scale! Thanks, Econ. 101!)
Standard recipes are typically crafted to make 4 servings. To get the most bang for your Cooking Day buck, double or even triple a recipe to crank out the amount of food you need for the whole week.
But sometimes recipes act a bit … shall we say … funny when they’re doubled or tripled. It’s not always as easy as dumping more ingredients in the pot. Here are some hints to make doubling go smoother:
This chana masala recipe might be one of the recipes I’m most proud of. My favorite Indian restaurant is on the other side of Nashville, and it takes some planning to get out there. Now I can make this dish on my Cooking Day and have creamy, tangy, perfectly spicy Indian any night of the week. I’ve got a sneaking feeling mine’s also probably healthier than the gloriously fatty-salty goo I always order. Sorry Sitar.
The Make Ahead Modern Method is all about prepping elements of meals ahead of time. This gets food on the table quick. Some of the best elements to make ahead are dressings. Dressings add the flavor to your fresh stuff. They make the difference between naked lettuce and awesome salad. Plus, they don’t mind sitting in the fridge, waiting until you’re ready for them.
This green vinaigrette really is the best. It’s savory and complex with a touch sweetness. I’ve got it paired with a great make-ahead lunch salad, but the dressing could pimp out any veggie dish. Just pop a bunch of herbs and aromatics in a blender, and you’ve got magic green sauce all week.
Yep, cookies for breakfast. Don’t worry, I haven’t given up on life. These cookies are healthy, hearty, vegan and gluten-free. They essentially have two ingredients – ripe bananas and oats. When these two things come together and bake, they firm up to create a simple breakfast treat. The add-ins (raisins, cinnamon, seeds, nuts, etc.) give these little cookies their character.
When I decided to overhaul my make-ahead game and start eating healthier, I cut out gluten. I am not a celiac. I don’t claim to have an allergy, and I don’t know if I even have an intolerance.
The reason I decided to go gluten-free was simply because I can’t control myself around it. I turn into a lion on a pasta-gazelle. Give me some pizza, bread or noodles, and I’ll mindlessly eat until it’s gone. That was a problem when wheat products were the cornerstone of my diet.
I am a lover of red sauce from way back. I wasn’t a macaroni and cheese kid – it was p’skhetti and sauce all the way. My college years were filled with jarred marinara and white pasta, and it sadly carried over to my adult years.
This love did not disappear when I started to eat healthier. Most of the time, there’s nothing I want more than a big bowl of red sauce and noodles. And I can still have it with this recipe. It’s low in sugar and sodium, with all the big, bold flavors of long-simmered marinara. Just throw in the ingredients, give a quick stir, and four hours later, you’ve got bubbly heaven. Paired with some quinoa pasta or zoodles, it’s the perfect comfort food for this girl.
So… Making a menu for your household week after week. Intimidating, right? It can be, especially when you’re just starting out. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for six or seven days?! That’s a lot of decision-making at one fell swoop. Deep breath, I got you.