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Haleth's avatar

Recipes that last several days with lots of leftovers?

Asked by Haleth (19538points) December 15th, 2015

Or dinner ideas?

I’ve been making lots of big meals to save money. Every couple days I make some sort of soup, stew, casserole, pasta, etc, freeze a couple tupperwares of it for work lunches, and my roommates and I share the rest. I try to get ingredients that are cheap, healthy, long lasting, and can be used lots of different ways. (We all work really long and crazy hours, so ingredients with a short shelf life used to go bad a lot because nobody had time to prepare/ eat them. I’ve fished so many mushy bags of delicate mixed greens out of the back of the fridge.) Nowadays I buy whatever meat is the cheapest, tons and tons of carrots, big bags of onions, those 3-lb bags of kale, stuff like that. Having lots of versatile basic ingredients and pantry items helps me avoid running to the store all the time or eating fast food. Also I’m staying away from starch-heavy meals because they make me sleepy; not good for work lunches. So mac and cheese, baked potatoes, ramen etc. are out.

Anyway, I’m getting kind of sick of eating same stuff all the time. It would be so nice to have a grilled steak or, IDK, some seared scallops or something. But cooking every night and expensive ingredients don’t really fit into my lifestyle.

My granny gave me this awesome pasta salad recipe that makes a LOT of food and lasts several days. I make it every 2 weeks or so. It would be awesome to find some other salad recipes that last a few days and are not lettuce-based. Or recipes with cheap proteins like tuna or beans or whatever that are actually good.

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14 Answers

Haleth's avatar

Granny’s pasta salad recipe, if anyone is interested.

1 box rotini pasta, cooked & cooled to room temperature
Half a jar of olives with pimentos, drained (or as much as you feel like)
a container of cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
¼ onion or 1 shallot, finely diced
1 large piece of real mozzarella cheese
a package of pepperoni

red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
1 packet Good Seasons salad dressing mix (it’s usually in some weird corner of the salad dressing section of the grocery store and they sell it for like 99 cents)

Chop everything into bite-sized pieces and toss it together with the pasta. Mix oil, vinegar, and dressing mix and toss again until everything is nicely coated. If you want you can throw some artichokes, mushrooms, or whatever else in there. This is a very forgiving recipe that’s hard to mess up.

jaytkay's avatar

Roast a chicken.

Eat the chicken.

Boil the carcass and bones with celery and onions to make stock.

Throw vegetables (frozen vegetables work great), potatoes and herbs in the stock.

Eat soup for a couple of days.

jaytkay's avatar

Another idea. I make a pot of beans 1 or 2 times a week, so I have beans in the fridge at all times. Black beans, Northern beans, kidney beans, whatever.

And I stock a variety of frozen vegetables.

So, with a larder like yours, it takes 15 minutes or so to make something like this: Black Bean Lentil Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing

Make it a few hours ahead of time, leave it out, and the frozen veggies have thawed. Or make it a day ahead and let them thaw in the fridge.

It’s great with a vinaigrette dressing.

Buttonstc's avatar

One of the best ways of making large quantities of food is with a crockpot (slow cooker) so I’m going to include a few of the links which have been the most helpful to me.

And they have also published cookbooks as well but I’ve found plenty just by the websites and one lady has an email list with her personal site which have some of the best recipes submitted by readers.

It’s easy enough to avoid the ones with pasta or other carbs (or just leave that out of the recipes and use the rest.)

If you don’t have a crockpot you can just make them in a low oven but crockpots aren’t that expensive and can easily be found in thriftshops.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe a meatloaf? I make half the recipe on the Liptons beefy onion package, add a little bit of diced onion and I half the ketchup (so that’s a quarter of the original recipe). The recipe is here but it’s also on the the back of the soup box. You can eat it one day with mashed potatoes and vegetables, another day as a sandwich with ketchup, and another with pasta and sauce. You can freeze ⅓ if you think it will be too much for the week.

Beans and rice are cheap. I like Goya black beans. Add some roasted chicken. Chicken legs and thighs are pretty cheap.

I like tuna salad with just mayo and celery. Put it on a bed of crunchy lettuce and add lots of lemon just before you eat it. A sprinkle of salt makes it even better if you have it handy where you eat. I wouldn’t make it days ahead, but you can have all the lettuce cleaned up at the beginning of the week and it takes 5 minutes to put together. You can add cucumber, tomatoes and carrots if you want. You can add tuna on top one day and cubes of ham another day. With the ham I would use a different dressing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like the chicken in a crockpot idea. Add veggies and you have enough to last many days.

Almost as important as the food is the way you save the leftovers. I use freezer bags and size the portions so they hold 2 meals. I label and put in the freezer. Defrost one when you are ready and plan on eating a similar meal the next day.
Tupperware is also great for this
(Sometimes I wash out the bags and reuse them if they are easily cleaned – less waste.)

janbb's avatar


Tuna with cream of mushroom soup and veggie – good over pasta with grated cheese

Homemade mac and cheese

Bean soups

marinelife's avatar

If I am craving something meaty as a change, I go for lamb shanks or veal shanks. Brown the meat (having peppered it). Just put in an oven-proof container with chicken stock, onions, carrots, and celery and cook at 350 degrees for a couple of hours. So meaty and good, and if you made two, you would have leftovers.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, any crock pot foods, like spaghetti sauce, chili, soups, stews, roast chicken, etc.
We make a lot of soups here and serve them with home made croutons, delicious!
Other casserole type dishes as well, like lasagne, enchiladas, and home made chicken pot pie.Use the frozen, pre-made pie crusts, and then dice up cooked chicken breast, cooked diced, potatoes,carrots and peas, layer in the bottom shell, pour chicken gravy on top, S&P and lay the 2nd, defrosted pie crust over the top, crimp edges, poke a few holes and bake according to the instructions. Yummy and plenty of leftovers depending on how many people.

Quiche is another great one, I make a ham, broccoli and cheese quiche using the frozen pie crusts too. You can make 2 at a time as they don;t require a top crust and they will keep for 4 days or so in the fridge, a slice for breakfast or lunches, dinner.

marinelife's avatar

Chuck roast is a pretty cheap cut of meat and pot roast with potatoes, onions, celery and carrots is delicious. Brown the meat in olive oil. Place in roasting pan with 1 C. of liquid (water, stock, or wine) and bake at 350 degrees for 1½ hrs. Add roughly chopped onions, potatoes, carrots and celery and cook for another 45 min. Save the juice to add in with the leftovers.

ibstubro's avatar

I just made chuck roast in the crock pot. It lasted forever and the leftovers are so versatile, from hash to stew to sandwiches.

Whole pork loin in usually cheap around here and incredibly versatile.
I cut about 6 chops around ½” thick.
Spray a glass 9×13 with nonstick, then dump a box of stuffing mix and the ingredients to make it into the pan. Stir up good, then sort of mound it in the middle. Sprinkle the chops with a little satl free seasoning and lay them in the pan, up the stuffing. Put sauce or gravy on the chops (yeah, I use bottled, but I’m not eating it anyway) and you can sprinkle that with a little breadcrumbs.
Bake about 40 minutes at around 350°.
You could use a lasagna pan and double it up.

When that’s gone I roast the rest of the loin in a brown-n-bag with veggies. Treat as raost beef above.

ibstubro's avatar

During the holidays, when ham is cheap, you can buy one and request the butcher (the cheapest meat here is where they have full service meat counters, and not the ‘big box stores, go figure) slice several ham steaks off the end. Works for boneless and bone-in.

You now have the makings of ham, ham-steak, ham and beans, ham and au gratin potatoes, ham and egg biscuits, Hawaiian pizza…..

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jca's avatar

In reference to the OP’s pasta salad recipe, I try to avoid that because it’s starchy but if I do make something like it, I try to load it up with celery (veggies for the day) and hard boiled eggs (to add protein). Maybe onions and carrots, too (more veggie portions).

My mom used to take hamburger meat and saute it with some worcestershire sauce and any veggies you have on hand – string beans, peas, onions, peppers, (not necessarily all the veggies, but whatever you like and/or have around). She would put in some cooked rice and saute it all up in the pan with the sprinkle of worcestershire, and voila, quick and easy.

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