Graduating from college means your days of getting free, unlimited meals with the swipe of your student ID card are gone—and the days of paying for your food with a different kind of plastic are here. But spending half your paycheck eating out or ordering in every night is totally unsustainable, which means it’s time to up your cooking game. After an eight-plus-hour work day, though, putting on that apron is the last thing you want to do, even if you’re using the easiest of recipes.
Fortunately, we have a solution for you! Now is the time to put your weekends to good use and spend your Sunday making meals that will last you the entire rest of your week. Here are five recipes (each of which you can make in big servings!) that will make great leftovers to feed you all week long.
1. Pasta with tomato sauce
How can you go wrong with a bowl of pasta? This homemade red sauce recipe is delicious and healthy, and it makes enough for 2 pounds of pasta—which means one night of cooking will go a long way. Even though a homemade recipe will take longer to make than it would to heat up a premade sauce, you can make tons in one go and freeze the leftovers, which will stay good for months. All you have to do is thaw as needed, add any fresh herbs or meat, reheat and eat!
- 3 cans Tuttorosso Italian Style Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 carrot (peeled)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pack sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of fresh basil or oregano
- 2 pounds of pasta (of your choice)
- Pour the crushed tomatoes into a pot and cook on low heat (with no cover).
- Peel the carrot and cut it into chunks.
- Pour some olive oil, the chopped onion and carrot chunks into a medium-sized pan and cook on medium heat.
- Sauté the onion to flavor the oil. Once the onion turns brown, take it out of the oil with a spoon and dispose.
- When the sauce begins to boil, place the oil and carrot chunks from the medium pan into the pot of boiling sauce.
- As the sauce cooks, add salt, sugar and basil or oregano.
- Mix the sauce every 10 minutes. Don’t forget this step because otherwise the sauce will stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours until sauce is thick to your liking.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Once finished, serve over pasta and eat.
2. Bean salad
Bean salad is a satisfying and healthy dish that can be used in many different ways. You can put it in a sandwich or on tacos, or you can eat it plain as a main lunch course. This recipe is so easy that it doesn’t even need directions—just toss the ingredients below and serve. You can even store the beans (without the other ingredients) in a Ziploc bag in your freezer to eat another day. When you’re ready to use them, you can defrost them in the microwave and add them to whatever you’re making.
- 1 can cannellini beans (1 pound)
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- Half of a red onion, chopped
- Cherry tomatoes (cut in halves)
- 1/2 of a lemon, squeezed
- 2 leaves parsley, chopped
For lunch, dinner or a late-night snack, pizza never fails to satisfy your taste buds. You can eat it for leftovers throughout the week, or you can prepare a few to freeze so when you get home from a long workday you can just toss the already-prepared pizza into the oven.
Note: Dough must be taken out of refrigerator to sit for about three hours before cooking.
- Pizza dough (buy at the supermarket or local pasta bakery/pasta shop)
- Crisco (vegetable shortening)
- 1 can Tuttorosso Italian Style Peeled Plum Shaped Tomatoes
- Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Garlic salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Any other toppings of your choosing (sausage, peppers, mushrooms, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium-sized rimmed pan (which will help make sure the pizza does not splatter all over your oven), spread Crisco to prevent the dough from sticking. Then, place the dough in the middle of the pan.
- With both of your hands, knead the dough across the pan and into the corners. Start in the middle and work your way outwards, using only your fingers and the top of your palm. Make sure not to play with the dough too much—use little motions.
- Once the pizza dough is spread evenly, use a fork to poke the dough. This helps the pizza “breathe” a little.
- Then, take a tomato and remove the seeds by opening up the tomato with your hands. Use around five to six tomatoes, depending on how much sauce you like on your pizzas.
- Sprinkle oregano all over the pizza; two to three pinches are the perfect amount. Repeat with garlic salt and regular black pepper as well.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Again, use as much as you prefer.
- Lastly, drizzle olive oil over the pizza. Make sure to get the crust, too so it will come out deliciously crispy!
- After you’re done prepping the pizza, let it sit for half an hour to let the dough rise. Then, put the pan in the oven and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Chili con carne
Home-cooked chili is an essential dish that you can rely on for hearty meals all week long. As the nights get colder, nothing is better than a warm bowl of chili for dinner.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home
- 5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
- 3 yellow onions, chopped
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup garlic, minced (2 cloves)
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
- 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 28-ounce cans of whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree
- ¼ cup basil leaves, minced
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and brown the meat on all sides.
- With a spoon, transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside.
- Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil for about 10 minutes (until limp, but not brown).
- Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt and cook for 1 minute.
- Crush the tomatoes by hand (or in a food processor if you have one).
- Add tomatoes to the pot with the basil.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve with chopped onions, diced tomato, tortilla chips, grated cheddar and sour cream.
5. Veggie stir-fry
As much as you may want to, you really shouldn’t go a week without some greens. Luckily, a stir-fry is an easy way to get those veggies in. If veggies served alone doesn’t appeal to you, toss the stir-fry over rice for dinner or eat it as a healthy complement to your main protein dish at lunch.
Recipe from Food Network
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 3 celery ribs
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Black pepper to taste
- Heat canola oil in large frying pan or wok (if you have one).
- Soak broccoli in water. Steam wet broccoli, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add celery, mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce and ginger.
- Sauté uncovered for about 5 minutes, depending how soft or crunchy you want your veggies (go longer if you like them softer).
- Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Serve over rice or with soy sauce and chow mein noodles.
Planning and preparing any or all of these recipes on Sunday will save you time and money during your never-ending workweek. Knowing that you have meals ready to eat when you get home lets you enjoy your free time instead of stressing about what you’re going to cook after work or how much you’re going to spend on takeout. Now that you have the recipes you need to be a master of the kitchen, all you have to do is get cookin’!