Pre-Leftovers and Rotating Food

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Some home cooks cook and freeze several weeks’ worth of meals, ready to take out one at a time. While this is probably the most efficient, cooking in bulk for a large family this requires huge amounts of time and space and enormous utensils. I prefer to plan a main meal by cooking one or two new elements each day and adding them to what I already have. This spreads my cooking time out over the week, and it works equally well for singles or young couples.

Here’s how I planned my main-meal menus in a typical week:

I always cook fresh food for the Sabbath, and because we never want to run out of food I usually start the week with some leftover chicken. I saw I was out of the frozen cooked beans I keep in the freezer, so Saturday evening I soaked a kilogram of kidney beans and cooked them in the pressure cooker on Sunday. Then I cooked three  cups of rice in the pressure cooker, benefiting from the flavor of the beans and saving myself a pot-washing. I combined some chopped chicken with some homemade tomato sauce and beans, and served it over rice. Here I explain how I make a chicken casserole in this way.

I realized that with the beans and rice I could make tortillas for Monday. Whole-wheat flour tortillas mean standing over a hot stove, but each one takes less than a minute and the kids like to help with the rolling and flipping. (I don’t do it if I’m on my own.) On the table I put out beans, rice, grated carrots and cabbage, cut up or grated cheese, tomatoes, cabbage or salad. Everyone likes this and the tortillas are good for breakfast or lunch the next day.

On Tuesday I made a vegetable stir-fry. We were tired of beans, so I put them in the freezer. I sauteed prepared celery, onions, carrots and cabbage, then added some canned tuna and Tamari sauce and served it all over the rice.

On Wednesday I made fresh pizza, a time-consuming job that my kids also help with. I top it with whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand. Thursday might have been a selection of leftovers, a filling soup served with tuna salad, tuna casserole, or if I’m really desperate, pancakes or potatoes and cottage cheese.

As an experienced cook I can eyeball what’s in my refrigerator and figure out what to cook. But if you’re new at this, you will probably want to map out your meals on paper. (Of course everyone can benefit from writing things down!)

Tomorrow I’ll list items I like to keep on hand for putting together quick meals.

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  1. Excellent ideas – I am loving this blog 🙂
    It would be awesome if you could also include some of the recipes for the meal basics you mentioned – such as how exactly to home-make the tortillas, or the pizza dough.

  2. How do you use your cooked frozen beans in a chicken casserole & in a tortilla with cheese the next day?

  3. Hi Amy,
    I presume you mean because of kashruth, and not serving meat and dairy together. I cook the beans in a pareve, or neutral pot., so I can add them to any recipe.


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