Dinner for 6 days
January 29, 2020 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Due to a scheduling snafu I'm working 6 days in a row from 8a-8p. I need to make some kind of dinner today that is tasty and energizing and will taste ok on day 6.

I'm thinking some type of casserole? I'm not very picky but I don't like seafood or soups. I like strong flavors and meat and vegetables and pasta and basically everything. I'm a good cook. I'm going to be on my feet for most of the 12 hours so high-calorie is good.

Also it needs to be something I can eat with one hand unobtrusively. Casserole in a Tupperware = good. Something I need to cut up with a separate side is not. I'm not going to be sitting down to a meal.

Thank you!
posted by pintapicasso to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I would make a shepherd's pie and take a square every night. You could make sure to go a little heavy on the vegetables. Mine usually holds up pretty well. Maybe take a different sauce each day to pretend it's something different (sriracha, ketchup, a little UK mustard)?
posted by theredpen at 6:26 AM on January 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

I find that potatoes develop off flavors after a day or two and we usually add them separately to stews each day. Sweet potatoes might stay tastier in a stew or casserole.
posted by Botanizer at 6:34 AM on January 29, 2020

Lasagne with lots of veggies in it for fiber. Also, you can freeze a quarter of it in individual servings so that when you thaw it for days 5 and 6 it won't be as much of a food safety concern if it has to be out at room temperature for a long time.

I would probably roast two or three heads of broccoli or cauliflower or some carrots to add in as a side in bite size pieces. I'm envisioning the long-ish flat tupperware from like Glad, with or without dividers.
posted by bilabial at 6:35 AM on January 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

is this going to be microwaved? After being stored in a work fridge during the day?

I'd make a big batch of meatballs and a big batch of your favorite rice, and a batch of tomato sauce, all stored separately in the fridge, and heated+eaten together. I like using (squeezed) zucchini in my meatballs. I never get tired of meatballs and it sounds like you're going to need something on the substantial side.

Also second suggestion of a lasagne, cut up in squares. You probably don't even need to freeze the squares, but that'd make it real safe. Take a frozen square w you in the morning, and even if you don't have a fridge to store it in, it'll be fine once heated.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:37 AM on January 29, 2020

A pasta bake will work as well as lasagne and you don't have to worry about all the layering.

I've done this with a French cassoulet with white beans and meat (duck, sausage, etc) and it held up well just out of the fridge- in fact such things like this and lasagne I think actually taste best on the second/third days as the flavors have mixed a bit, then decline a bit after that.
posted by vacapinta at 6:48 AM on January 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Chilli con carne can be made so thick it's like a casserole - and keeps easily for a week in the fridge. It tastes better on Day 6.
posted by jb at 6:51 AM on January 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Beans and rice. Make the rice with onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers, canned tomatoes. I find brown rice more filling than white rice. Optional: top with andouille sausage or shredded pork/chicken. Make some collard greens and nestle them alongside in your tupperware.
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:51 AM on January 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Came to say beans and rice as well. Yellow rice and chicken also works.
posted by jquinby at 7:05 AM on January 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

2nd chilli- add lots of fibre and texture with different beans, lots of peppers and onions. I can eat that all week. It also gets better over time. If you prefer you could freeze half and defrost in a few days as you get through the rest.

You can make it more varied by eating it with different things - rice, bread, baked potatoes or squashes, I may even have had it with pasta and with/without cheese on top.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:23 AM on January 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Make enchiladas in a casserole dish and you can take a few every day on top of a scoop of rice. Fill the enchiladas with different things in the pan and you’ll be eating slightly different things every day to break it up a little.
posted by leafmealone at 7:28 AM on January 29, 2020

Here are my repeat jar lunches. I make them in a pint jar, but use the container that works for you.

Burrito jar: refried beans, salsa, cooked veg like onions and peppers, salsa, more cheese.
Trader Joe's Super Burrito DIY jar: cook quinoa with chunks of carrot and sweet potato in it, tossed with zhoug sauce (cilantro, cardamon, chil pepper, oil) and mayo.
Oat Fest: Layers of rolled oats, wheat bran, chunks of an entire apple or pear, your favorite nuts or seeds, some canned fruit or a blob of jam, and your choice of milk poured over the top. Apples make it keep longer, definitely up to a week in the fridge.
Rice, but Awesome: Shredded carrots cooked with brown rice 1:1, apple chunks, raisins, and mayo. Optional: maple.
Noodles with stuff, tomato: noodles, tofu or fake sausage, vegetables, garlic, olives, basil, canned crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Noodles with stuff, peanut: tofu, vegetables, noodles, the dressing is peanut butter, sesame oil, lime juice, a lot of ginger, garlic, chili pepper, citrus juice, soy sauce. Optional: add more peanuts.
Special potatoes: cook mashed potatoes via your favorite method and cut 1:1 with steamed broccoli. Add a cup of pesto and combine-- it will turn green! You can toss this with tomatoes and pine nuts.

Use shelf-stable milk like boxed soy milk or UPT to make it last longer. I don't know how long cooked meat stays good so I can't speak to how these would do with real meat, but the way I make them, they are fine for a week in the fridge.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:39 AM on January 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

Make something like chili where you can freeze half of it. Take the 2nd half out halfway through the week. Six days is outside food safety guidelines for cooked meats.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:22 AM on January 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Part of my weekly meal prep is a big casserole, usually lasagna-like (except we're keto so tons of veg, no pasta, an agreeable amount of cheese but with the awareness that it can get a little grainy when frozen and reheated so not tons of it).

The trick, for 6+ generous servings, is to skip a glass/ceramic casserole dish and get an aluminum roasting pan, usually 13x9 with high sides. Lasagna gets deep fast, you think everything is really thin and doesn't take up space but it does.

I usually make mine in a two-day process, but it can be done in one: make a vat of beanless chili/meat sauce with Italian-y flavors using at least 2 large cans of tomatoes, a family pack of ground beef, 1 can paste, onions and garlic, some sweet pepper if I've got it and maybe a jalapeno since I grow them, and I just throw a package or two of sliced mushrooms in without pre-cooking.

Simultaneously roast two half-sheet pans (roughly an entire oven's worth) of quartered zucchini, diced eggplant, one or two others as I feel the urge (could be butternut or spaghetti squash, green beans, cabbage, broccoli). I don't necessarily cook everything entirely through, I just mostly want to get some of the moisture out of it to keep from having a wet casserole. I often use a bag of frozen cauliflower tossed with a little cheese as my base layer.

Mix a tub of ricotta or cottage cheese with 2-4 eggs (more will give you a thicker layer for better structure, it can get a little eggy at max, I don't mind). You'll want 2-4 cups of shred cheese, flavors of your choice.

If you want a pasta layer (personally I think penne or rotini makes for a casserole that's slightly easier to eat with a spoon, as you plan to do), soak it for 20 minutes in warm water before you start assembling.

Put your roasting pan in a baking sheet (ideally one a smidge larger, to catch bubble-over) and layer:
cauliflower + a little cheese
meat sauce
white sauce
veg 1 (+veg 3 if applicable)*
shred cheese
pasta if using
meat sauce
white sauce
veg 2 (+veg 4 if applicable)
meat sauce (however much is left, may not be a ton)
white sauce
cheese on top

You want to do pretty thin layers of sauces, you'll be surprised how fast you run out.

Bake at 350 until everything bubbles and cheese begins to brown. Let cool (ideally really cool, like fridge overnight) before cutting so it firms up and doesn't collapse as you're trying to portion it out to containers. Freeze 2-3 servings for the end of the week.

*Alt method: if you want do the left side of the casserole with vegetables 1-2 and right side with 3-4, or other similar alternating combos, you'll get more variety.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:25 AM on January 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Were it me, I'd want variety to avoid this week feeling like more of a slog than it already will be. I would:
- Cook four spicy Italian sausages until brown and delicious. Slice two into bite-size chunks, and dice the other two.
- Make a yummy tomato sauce with vegetables and the two diced sausages.
- Boil a pot of water and cook some sort of store-made stuffed pasta (for example, cheese ravioli); then cook a batch of some sort of straightforward chunky pasta (for example, fusilli).
- Portion them up and freeze most of them.

Your menu for six days:
1. Ravioli with sauce
2. Fusilli with sauce
3. Ravioli cacio e pepe* with sausage chunks
4. Fusilli with sauce
5. Fusilli cacio e pepe with sausage chunks
6. Ravioli with sauce

* dressed with olive oil, cracked black pepper and a bunch of shredded parm or romano
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:01 AM on January 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A full catering-size tray of baked ziti (with or without meat) is perfect for this. You can cut off a square every day, and microwave it for a quick and tasty high-calorie meal. Someone made a huge tray of ziti for me after I had a baby and it was perfect when I needed easy, dense, good-tasting calories. Eventually you'll get sick of it, but the taste and texture don't really change as the week goes on if you're careful to tightly wrap the main tray every time.
posted by Jemstar at 10:06 AM on January 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would mix in a salad or two throughout the six days just to break up the monotony of eating the same thing. Get a prepackaged salad mix, grape tomatoes, and cut up some vegetables before hand. To make it really filling, I'd cut up thick slices of ham or turkey or precooked sausage and add those in. Or you could substitute beans.

If you're browning meat for a casserole, you can set aside a portion and season that individually and add that to your salad.

I've made a salad with lettuce, beans, and salsa and called it a fiesta salad.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 10:19 AM on January 29, 2020

Instant Pot spaghetti with beef is my emergency meal of choice. Supplement with a mixed fruit tupperware container as well - Grapes, blueberries and clementine segments.
posted by srboisvert at 11:10 AM on January 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Budget Bytes has lots of meal prep ideas to suit all tastes.
posted by essexjan at 1:16 PM on January 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I ended up making a huge vat of rice and beans. Love the suggestions, will definitely bookmark for the next inevitable scheduling fuckup. Thank you !!
posted by pintapicasso at 3:23 AM on January 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

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