Gimmie your favorite week long recipes.
November 17, 2015 9:32 PM   Subscribe

Help me fatten my cookbook with recipes that create copious amounts of food that last a while.

Long story short: My furnace blew. Got it replaced and now my emergency fund is tapped. I don't like having a deflated emergency fund so I need to cut some costs for a while to rebuild it. Looking at my budget and spending habits it is a no brainer that reducing my eating out spending on both work lunch, and during the evenings is the easiest win in terms of reducing my monthly money outflow to rebuild my emergency fund.

I enjoy cooking, but don't do it often enough to consider myself good at it. I suck at the old "What can I make with what is in the fridge?" game every night. So what I'm looking for are some new bulk recipes that are cheaper than eating out where I only need to spend an hour or so on during the weekend on, and then have quick meals to heat up throughout the week. So basically stuff that can be easily portioned out and freezes/refrigerates well, and/or doesn't turn to mush or taste like hell if it isn't eaten immediately.

I tend to end up making a lot of pasta when I go into this mode, but want to branch out a bit with some new concoctions I'd never end up thinking about searching for when cooking in bulk.

I have no dietary restrictions due to allergies or other self imposed dietary rules, and love trying new things and am a fan of hot and spicy foods. Throw your best recipes at me.
posted by kpraslowicz to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This soup is one of my very favorites. In fact, I'm about to go make a quadruple batch of it this weekend. It's even better if you substitute sausage in place of turkey, it freezes well, and--bonus!--if you want to use frozen vegetables to minimize your prep time, it adapts well to that. I buy pre-chopped kale or collards because I fucking hate chopping kale, plus a couple of bags of frozen onion-and-bell-pepper "fajita mix," and that means that my real prep work is basically "chop carrots." (I cannot be bothered to do shallots even when I do chop onions from scratch, if you want to save work there. I sub yellow onions.) I routinely make coworkers jealous with this soup. It is amazing.

I also like Budget Bytes--basically, soups nearly always freeze well, so I totally pick and choose from among the recipes there when I want to try a new style of food. This pumpkin soup (with chorizo subbed for half the chicken) is another favorite of mine. I basically go "fuck it" and use an entire little jar of chipotle peppers when I make double batches and I REGRET NOTHING.
posted by sciatrix at 9:56 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I enjoy cooking, but don't do it often enough to consider myself good at it.

Chilli is easy and I love the 2 Alarm Chilli Kit: you just follow the directions on the box, and you can get single boxes at your grocery store. (Add a can of kidney beans for better texture.) As a bonus, it's just pre-measured spices and mesa flour; there's nothing artificial in there, but it saves the cost of having to buy each individual spice, which adds up. Takes about 12 minutes to make and then just bubbles on very low heat for an hour or two. Freezes flawlessly.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:15 PM on November 17, 2015

This vegetarian chili with lentils makes a ton and freezes well. Add a few chopped up chipotles in adobo sauce to spice it up.

I grew up eating a lot of bulk-made taco soup, which shouldn't be too expensive if you can find ground beef on sale. If you already have a fairly well-stocked spice rack, I recommend substituting your own spices for the Hidden Valley Ranch and taco seasoning packets (and, of course, throwing in some chipotles for good measure).
posted by neushoorn at 10:26 PM on November 17, 2015

I've been doing exactly this with the NYT's shawarma recipe. Super-easy to make, scales up well, and will definitely keep for a week in the fridge.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:39 PM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

The minestrone recipe from this book is awesome. I've made batches, where I let it meld in the fridge, split evenly in three Tupperware containers for a few days. Each container is a meal for two people — so, three meals after melding.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:39 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm giving you my recipe for Sloppy Joes. This stuff is famous among my family and friends (at least one person a week asks me to make it, seriously). I don't know why though since it's super easy to make. It makes 8 servings as is but it scales up or down magnificently and freezes well. Also you can eat it in the traditional way (on hamburger buns) or you can put it on a baked potato with some shredded cheese, serve it on rice or mashed potatoes or noodles, eat it on tortilla chips, etc. And you can control the heat by adding more or less Chili Powder. If you've only ever had sloppy joes made from the canned stuff, this will blow that out of the water, taste wise.

Sloppy Joes

3 tbsp. Butter or Margarine
1 med. Onion, diced finely
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced finely (optional but gives great flavor)
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. Ground Beef
1 1/2 - 3 tsp. Chili Powder (personal preference)
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper
2 (8 oz.) cans Tomato Sauce
3 oz. Tomato Paste (half of a 6 oz. can)
1/4 - 1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
3 - 4 tbsp. Brown Sugar
Water (as needed)

Sauté onions and peppers in butter until soft. Add ground beef, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Brown meat, drain. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes uncovered. Cover, and simmer for 15 more minutes. If sauce is too thick add a little water and heat through. Serves 8.
posted by katyggls at 10:40 PM on November 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, man, I've had extended periods of stretching the old food dollar to near transparency, and have a lot of these sorts of recipes. Here are some of my standbys that I love even when not impoverished:

Potato Soup! No wrong way to make it, easy, cheap, delicious, filling, comforting, and you can make as much as you can fit into your big soup pot and freeze!

I usually sauté a ton of chopped onions and leeks (chopping is the most time consuming bit) in part-butter-part-olive oil (any cooking fat / oil will be fine), and I might add chopped bacon to brown in that at the beginning (while chopping the other stuff). Add as many cut up potatoes as you want, skin on or skin off (I usually cut an average sized skin-on potato into 3 or four pieces horizontally, then one cut through them all vertically, to end up with 6-8 potato chunks per potato - pretty fast!). Add water (plus chicken or vegetable broth if you have it or want it) to half or a third above the potato-onion-leek mix (you can always adjust by adding more liquid, or cook down if you have too much), season to taste (I usually use salt, pepper, thyme, and maybe some tarragon if I have some). When the potatoes are breaking up and the soup is nearly done, add some milk -- however much works for you. I usually use canned milk, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup, but I just eyeball it.

Tip: be careful to split, separate and wash the leeks carefully, as some can really be full of a lot of nesting sandy soil.

This is very nicely rich-tasting for a budget recipe, and lovely for cold weather, though also good at room temp (or chilled, I guess) in warmer seasons. I know my "recipe" is loosey-goosey, but that's the beauty – it's pretty much impossible to mess it up unless you burn something, and it's endlessly adjustable. You can make it more oniony-leeky, or more potatoey. You can leave out either the leeks or the onions. You can leave out the milk, make it thinner or thicker, use any seasoning profile or intensity you like. Unless you dislike potatoes, it's going to be good. :)

Shepherd's Pie, but with lentils instead of minced meat. I make a lentil soup type recipe with lentils (again, however you like it re seasoning and ingredients), chopped onion, green pepper, garlic, maybe fresh coriander or parsley, maybe a bit of tomato paste, maybe bits of sausage, but cook it down so it's more of a solid, similar to cooked ground beef. Spread this on the bottom of your baking pan, cover that with a layer of mashed potatoes (garlic mashed potatoes if you're nasty brilliant), cover that with shredded cheese (though I usually use crumbled feta for this part, instead of cheddar, for example). I then usually top this with a layer of very thinly sliced tomatoes, if good tomatoes are available, and bake. Since everything is actually pre-cooked, it only takes a short while for the cheese topping to melt and it all to sort of meld together. Quite yummy.

I'm getting overlong, but must mention a couple more things as briefly as possible:

Red beans and rice. Look for recipes that appeal to you, but the trick is letting it cook for a long, long, time... like, the whole day on one of your days off (even though you mentioned quick, I'll include it – the prep time is short, and the recipe was designed for folks doing other things all day, and just letting this simmer on its own). Start with dried red beans that you soaked overnight, add a ham hock to the pot if you can (and if you like that, of course), be sure to sauté chopped onion, garlic, green bell pepper and celery (not too much celery) first. You can have this alone, or with sausage or chicken or a pork chop on the side, if you are feeling spendy. You can add sliced sausage to the pot itself. Again, infinitely adjustable, but check Creole or Cajun recipes for the good guides. This is ridiculously, insanely good if made with patience for the long, long cooking time.

Greek Fasolada (white bean soup). There are many recipes you can check out. Here's one. Must use olive oil! Trying to keep this from becoming a ridiculously epic comment post, so won't go into everything about how we make it, but we use fresh tomatoes sliced in half and rubbed on a grater for this (throw away the skin) if we have good tomatoes, rather than tomato paste or tomato sauce. This recipe is super good with some feta and smoked fish (if possible w/budget) on the side, or even just canned sardines.

Greek Fasolakia. Amazingly good green bean recipe, Here's one recipe. Again, olive oil necessary. I don't know what to say about this, except that it ranges from just really good, to insanely, profoundly, ridiculously good, and it's one of the dishes that I just never feel like adding any kind of meat/fish thing on the side; it's crazy good alone (though with good bread and feta, because, hello, GREEK). We use fresh green beans when possible, but have made batches with frozen green beans that were ambrosial. I haven't been able to really pin down why it's sometimes over the top delicious when we make it, but it's always good.

You also may like the recipe for peas I posted here (also a Greek recipe, surprise!). Delish, nice on toast, or with an egg on top to fill it out for more of a full meal, or pretty much anything on the side, and lasts a long time in fridge or freezer.

I'll stop now, because this is too long, but some eggplant recipes can be both cheap and gourmet spectacular, as well as doing well in fridge or freezer. This eggplant gratin one is amaaaazing, but maybe more effort intensive than you prefer (mostly just because of the eggplant frying part). But if you make it for friends or lover(s), all right-thinking people will honor you as a god. As I recall, other recipes from Richard Olney's book "Simple French Food" are also budget-friendly, but not necessarily quick.
posted by taz at 5:47 AM on November 18, 2015 [13 favorites]

Frittatas freeze well and are good cold. The only trick is, once you exceed maybe six eggs or so, assuming you don't have giant restaurant-scale pots, you have to start baking them. E.g., saute a pound each of diced bacon, diced onion, and green pepper, then mix with three dozen beaten eggs and bake at 350F, stirring after ten minutes, until the egg firms up into a solid block.

Soups scale well, essentially limited only by the size of the pot, although thicker recipes will need more vigilant stirring to prevent the bottom from sticking and burning. Casseroles scale well, although you may need to start splitting them into multiple trays. Big solid roasts, like a joint of meat, are a bit trickier to cook evenly.

And one of the joys of cooking at scale is that some recipes which usually have too much of a start-up cost become possible! If you're doing a dozen fish fillets, why not heat up a quart of oil and deep fry them?
posted by d. z. wang at 6:01 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are a ton of ideas out there on the interwebs about turning a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store into a week's worth of meals. Here's one focused on making meals for one person. There are a lot more too if you search.
posted by goggie at 9:48 AM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Tonight I made the Pumpkin & Chicken from this thread. Not really knowing what pumpkin & chicken is really suppose to taste like I went on ahead. Turns out it is very similar to the taco soup my mom used to make. Though she never used cilantro. And being kind of crazy for cilantro, I like it.

Plenty of soup left to eat through the week! [pic of soup]
posted by kpraslowicz at 5:05 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older He said he'd text me more often but he didn't...   |   Laughter may be the best medicine, but where can I... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.