by Texas Homesteader ~
“COOK ONCE EAT TWICE” method of cooking means homemade meals are a snap to enjoy now & freeze some for later, and less cleanup too!
The idea is simple – cook LOTS of a specific main entrée and enjoy it at mealtime that day. Then portion out & freeze the rest for quick meals later.
It’s been a game-changer for me.
Serving Our Family Healthy Homemade Meals
Many of us have something in common – we desperately want to serve our families healthy homemade meals.
But we’re often being stretched in so many ways it’s hard to find the time to do so.
You know how it is. With good intentions we buy those healthy foods only to run out of time when the supper hour nears. With hungry mouths to feed we give up & grab a quick drive-through meal instead.
The result is significantly more expensive and also less healthy than a home-cooked meal would be. But whaddya do??
This dinnertime rush was a common problem for me too, years ago. But things changed for me when I discovered the “Cook Once Eat Twice” method of cooking.
Once A Month Freezer Cooking? NOPE!
Some people love to do once-a-month freezer cooking. That’s where you plan what you’ll serve all month, then cook and freeze all those meals in dinner-sized serving sizes.
Although that does streamline actual dinner preparation by being able to thaw and heat a pre-made dinner in a flash, it wasn’t an ideal solution for me.
Pulling out all those recipes, gathering all those ingredients and spending the whole day or WEEKEND!) cooking? Nope. Just didn’t work for me.
I can never find a full day to plan and cook a full month’s worth of meals. It’s too much of a time drain for our busy lifestyle. And looking up all the recipes and pulling out so many ingredients and seasonings. Just. Ugh…
Cook-Once, Eat-Twice Cooking To Stockpile Freezer Meals
What did work for me and was much more simple was the cook-once, eat-twice method of cooking. You’re basically just cooking one entree, but cooking several servings of it at one time.
Now THIS I can get into. There are so many benefits to this.
Although I end up with several meals of that entrée, with Cook-Once, Eat-Twice methods I’m:
- Reading and following only one recipe.
- Pulling out & returning all the ingredients/seasonings only once.
- Dirtying/cleaning up up the preparation dishes only once.
- Turning on the oven only once. (An energy savings too!)
Yet I have several entrees in the freezer just waiting for me to thaw, heat & serve for a hearty homemade meal.
Extra Cooked Meals In The Freezer
To preserve those cooked meals I simply section off supper-sized servings of that entrée, place it in a repurposed bag. Then I place all the servings into freezer bags and add a label.
Into the freezer they all go awaiting their need for supper. I simply decide the night before what we’ll have for supper the next day and pull out a supper-sized serving, placing it in the refrigerator to thaw.
The next night I simply heat the entrée, add a couple of veggie sides or a salad and BOOM! Homemade meal in a flash.
It’s one of my favorite Homemade Meal Every Day Shortcuts, y’all! And so much easier than once-a-month cooking.
Filling The Oven With Several Pans Of Meatloaf!
Here’s an example – recently I decided I was really in the mood for Savory Meatloaf. It’s one of my favorite meat dishes and I typically use some of the lean ground pork from the wild hogs RancherMan harvests.
I can fit several loaf pans in my oven at the same time. So I mixed up the meatloaf & filled the oven to capacity.
In making my meatloaves I was able to use up several pounds of meat from the freezer and turn it into delicious ready-to-eat meals for both now & later.
RancherMan & I enjoyed the meatloaf for supper that night and of course I had to put a few servings in the fridge so he could enjoy meatloaf sandwiches.
But the rest was sectioned up into meal-sized servings, each serving placed in a repurposed plastic bag. (have I mentioned lately how much I HATE plastic bags & make sure to reuse them at least once before recycling or throwing away??).
Each of these meal-sized bags of meatloaf are then placed in a zippered freezer bag for freezer protection.
And of course a label is inserted inside the freezer bag to identify the contents.
What Can Be Made With Leftover Meatloaf?
Leftover meatloaf is a great thing to have in my freezer. That’s because there are so many ways you can use leftover meatloaf:
Use it as a dinner serving of Meatloaf
Crumble leftover meatloaf for the meat in Spaghetti
Season With Taco Seasoning & make tacos
Make Leftover Meatloaf Quesadillas
Pretty much anywhere you can use a shortcut of cooked seasoned hamburger meat. How versatile!
Easier Cooking: Only Dirty Food-Prep Dishes Once
The real beauty of this method of cooking is that all those food-preparation dishes like knives, spoons, cutting boards, mixing bowls, measuring cups etc were only dirtied once.
Plus the oven was only fired up once saving both energy and time. Yet we have about 10 meals worth of meatloaf waiting in the freezer for us to enjoy over the next several weeks.
I use this same procedure with other main entrees such as pork roast, stuffed bell peppers, homemade ravioli, etc.
From-Scratch Cooking with Freezer Convenience
Now that I have all those different homemade entrees in the freezer, making dinner will be a snap.
When I’m planning supper for the next day I check out the contents of my main-entrée drawer in my freezer to see what’s already cooked for us to enjoy.
I’ll decide what sounds good, pull out the main entrée I’m planning for the following day’s meal and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight.
The next day when I’m preparing supper I simply heat the main entrée, add a couple of vegetable sides or even make a whole pan of Roasted Veggies and voila – homemade in minutes!
I’m also able to save quite a bit of money by using all food I’ve purchased.
And the meals are homemade so they’re significantly more healthy than commercially-prepared or convenience foods high in salt, fat and preservatives.
Planned Leftovers Cooking A Large Roast
I also use the Planned Leftovers method of cooking to streamline our meal prep. It’s similar in theory to cook-once, eat-twice cooking.
But with planned leftovers I’m cooking a large amount of an ingredient and then turn the leftovers into completely different meals.
For instance, I’ll cook a huge Pork Roast and enjoy roast & potatoes for supper.
Then I’ll use this shortcut to quickly Shred Leftover Roast to make brand new dishes, such as:
Pulled Pork BBQ, (go ahead & make (Homemade Honey-Sweetened BBQ Sauce too)
Hearty Meaty Stew quick!
Carnitas Tacos, (you can even MYO Crispy Taco Shells in Minutes)
See what I mean?? One large roast initially cooked but several completely different dishes are now a snap!
How do you streamline the dreaded rushed supper hour?
New Meals Remade With Leftovers
- Planned Leftovers: Easy Slow-Cooker Pork Roast
- How To Quickly Shred Leftover Roast
- Hearty Stew – Quickest Planned Leftover Meal Of All
- Pulled Pork Enchiladas From Leftover Roast
- Planned Leftovers: Carnitas Tacos From Pork Roast
- Chicken Fried Rice Supper FAST!
- Leftover Chicken & Zucchini Noodles with Herb Bombs
- Chicken Tortilla Soup From Leftovers
- Homemade Chicken Pot Pie Made Easy
- Chicken & Dumplings Using Leftover Chicken
- Leftover Chicken Into Quick Chicken Fried Rice
- Leftover Turkey & Dressing Into Patties
Other Leftover Posts
- Leftover Biscuit Dough? Make Cinnamon Rolls!
- Using It ALL – The Art Of Eliminating Leftover Food
- Homemade Meals Every Day – The EASY Way!
…and MUCH MORE!
See All Our Recipes
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This is great, we do something similar where we usually make double of items we can use in other recipes. Whenever I make mashed potatoes or rice, I always make double. This way I have the base for a sheppards pie, fried rice, rice pudding, you name it. I also love finding cool ways to turn leftovers into new meals, like turning boiled dinner into corned beef hash. By the way, you totally have me craving meatloaf sandwhiches. I totally need to make meatloaf now. Thanks for the menu item for next week!
While I love the idea of Once A Month Freezer Cooking, I never seem to find the time to accomplish that task.
Instead, I have found that the Cook Once, Eat Twice method has worked wonders for me. Thanks for sharing!
I love the cook once eat twice (or three or four times) method of cooking. When I make spaghetti sauce or soups I use this all the time! We store most of our leftovers in large yogurt containers, since our daughter eats so much we have lots of containers left over. Thanks again for linking up with Idea Box!
Yes, I try and do this too! Great tip! We also like to make a large batch of coleslaw or green salad to last the week (or at least part) for the side dishes.
Looks so yummy! I need to do more of this. Best wishes!
It’s sure streamlined our supper routine Jendi, and allowed me to be able to serve healthy homemade meals in a flash – hugely important when the day’s been long & grueling. ~TxH~
Great Idea! It is so much nicer to have choices at your finger tips without having to do all the prep for a meal at the end of a long day. Since we are vegan, I do something similar, but instead of preparing a meat main course, I do all the cutting, chopping, grating and slicing of vegetables, put them in individual snap top plastic containers and put them in a larger container that holds all the small ones. This fits on the shelf under the cheese draw in my fridge. We call it the salad box. When I am ready to prepare a salad for lunch, all I do is tear the greens, put them in the bowl and then set the salad box out and my husband and I can compose our own salads from the contents of the box, (plus any other goodies in bottles and jars in the fridge, like olives and sundried tomatoes), there is no muss no fuss and food is on the table in a snap! When it is time to prepare dinner, I pull the salad box out again and put whatever ingredients I need from the box into my dinner preps. I fill it 2-3 times a week, each week there will be different things in it, one week shredded red cabbage, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, shredded carrots, broccoli florets, slivered red onions, cherry tomato halves, and artichoke hearts, another time it would be shredded, cabbage, snow peas, water chestnuts, oriental baby corn, half moons of carrots, and mushrooms. I make my own dressing according to what kind of salad veggies we are having. Since veggie preps can be time consuming, this is very helpful when I come in from the garden tired and hungry, needing to fix dinner! Oh By the way I gave you a shoutout and posted a link to your blog on my blog 🙂
What a great idea! I have to admit that I don’t plan dinners very well so I need to try this!
I’m not a big meal planner either Rachel, that’s why it works so well for me. I just bring out the main entree the night before to thaw in the fridge. A couple of sides and maybe some fruit and BOOM! Dinner is served. 😉 ~TxH~
Cooking for a large family I love to keep things simple!
Thanks for sharing at the HomeAcre hop!
I need to do this, now that we are into summer I hate to heat up the house cooking. This will really save my cooling bill.
Hopped over here from Tuesday with a Twist
Awesome, my kind of women, thinking ahead and saving some time. Pinning for later and in the freezer they’ll go!
This is a wonderful idea (especially since it involves meatloaf- yum!); so organized, and like you said, certainly more environmentally friendly. And here in Texas, the less you have to turn on the stove, the better. Nine months out of the year, anyway. 😉 I am so glad you linked this up with us at Treasure Box Tuesday. I also loved your post about solar cooking- again, in Texas where we have sun almost year-round, it would be a shame not to use solar cooking. 🙂
This is such a great idea. I’ve been using the crock pot a lot lately since it always feels like theres so much going on when its time to make dinner, it kind of bumps all the cooking work to earlier in the day. But this, this is BRILLIANT! If I only had to cook dinner every other day, think of all the time I’d have….Thanks for sharing.
I have been doing this for years as well. i need to have a big cooking weekend soon because Spring is here and this is our busiest time of the year! Thanks for sharing at TTF.
I agree – I do it when I can and it REALLY helps…..instead of making a single meal of lasagna, enchilada casserole, chili, even pancakes……….I also love to use the crockpot – and put ingredients in there in the morning (when I am fresher and have more energy). I cook meat ahead and freeze it into smaller containers to use in soups or casseroles, so that is ready…..so I can dump stuff in there in the morning…………and it smells so good at suppertime….so we can add a salad and bread and it helps avoid the 5:00 panic (although we still do that sometimes too!!!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this. Gentle Joy
I’ve been doing the cook-once eat-twice method for years now but I was slow coming to the game I think. This would have been so helpful when my children were small! ~TxH~
I love this way of cooking. It’s the only way I get a dinner on the table on some of our busiest nights. Thanks for sharing some new recipes! 🙂
Brilliant idea! And really brilliant to cut the peppers in half!!! I never considered that and just stuff whole ones. SO COOL!!!!! THANK YOU!!
I batch cook meatloaf as well. It is one of my favs too! I have never thought about the stuffed green peppers! I’ll have to do that next week! You are right. cooking once and eating twice is the way to go! so simple and convenient!
I try to do this as well. Sometimes I am better at remembering to do it than others. I did do it tonight. I made enough calzones for 3 meals plus I fried up hamburger for even another meal. The work done ahead does really feel good.
We started this too and it has been a real time saver. Especially since it’s just the two of us now 🙂
Oh yes Veletta I agree – cooking for two (down from cooking for SIX) was really a challenge for me so I figured why fight it? Cook for an army & freeze the rest! HA! ~TxH~
What a great idea – I gotta start doing this!
This is a great idea. Your stuffed peppers look really good. Could you share your recipe with us? 🙂
Absolutely Khadija, the recipe is posted on my blog here –> http://texashomesteader.com/recipe-stuffed-bell-peppers/ ~TxH~