I <3 Progressive Cooking

+ We’re discussing Meal Planning and Prepping tactics this month! See The Essentials of Meal Planning and Eating Seasonally.

Tired of cooking? Sick of leftovers? Almost six years ago, I read an article in Bon Appétit about Italian peasant cooking and was drawn to the practice of cooking a big pot of beans for dinner and then reusing them in other meals later in the week.

This simple, economical concept is now one of my favorite ways to prepare food and save time... I refer to it as Progressive Cooking! You make a big pot of a protein one day (I usually prefer Friday evening for Sabbath) and then continue to use that dish reinvented as other meals over the next few days. The majority of the cooking is done once but it doesn’t feel like you’re eating leftovers!

There are a couple of other benefits as well. It’s a great way to get distance out of a recipe if you’re cooking for just one or two. And since we're all trying to be better humans, it makes it easier to eat smaller servings of meat when it’s topping vegetables or used as a filling to a dish. There are endless options but here are a handful of my favorite Progressive Cooking ideas:

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1. BRISKET, PULLED PORK, OR SHORT RIBS
Meal 1: Braised with a side vegetable like steamed artichokes and a loaf of crusty bread.
Meal 2. Topping a pizza with a bunch of sautéed veggies and a small bit of yummy cheese.
Meal 3. Filling tacos, topped with pickled onions, avocado crema and a crunchy slaw.

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2. ROASTED CHICKEN
Meal 1: Roasted
with a side vegetable like roasted brussels and maybe a rice pilaf.
Meal 2. Tossed in a salad with a bunch of crispy vegetables and a tangy asian dressing.
Meal 3. With corn tortillas, either as enchiladas or tortilla soup.

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3. MEATBALLS (PORK, CHICKEN, BEEF, TURKEY OR EVEN LENTIL!)
Meal 1: Finished in sauce over pasta with a side salad.
Meal 2. Wrapped in lettuce with slivered vegetables and a yummy dipping sauce.
Meal 3. Stuffed into subs, covered in sauce and cheese, then broiled until melty.

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4. WHITE BEANS (OR BLACK BEANS)
Meal 1: Slow simmered and served with fennel and lemon or sausages and tomato.
Meal 2. Sautéed with greens and served over grits, maybe topped with a poached egg.
Meal 3. Puréed into a creamy soup with herbs, stock and aromatics.

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5. ROASTED TOFU OR SALMON
Meal 1: Diced and tossed into a noodle dish similar to pad thai.
Meal 2. Brushed with BBQ or Buffalo sauce and served over a salad with creamy dressing.
Meal 3. Rolled into rice wrappers with veggies and grains as spring rolls.

Happy cooking!

+ Note that I’m linking to a bunch of recipes in this post. The recipes themselves aren’t as important as the inspiration they provide. I like to use them as guidelines for meals but you can always simplify or cater the ideas to your pantry.
+ And an article with some other great tips for cooking for one.