EASY WEEKNIGHT DINNERS

FOR THE FAMILY

There are loads of great family dinner menu ideas out there, and many of them are focused on saving you time and effort each time you cook during the week. Fewer seem geared towards batch cooking several meals at once, though...and surely that’s the ultimate time saver for busy weeknight dinners?

With any sort of range cooker, batch cooking larger meals designed around canny use of leftovers is a breeze - and one of the easiest ways to save yourself hours of cooking over the course of a working week. Moreover, it’s a lot cheaper to put together a menu lasting several days than it is to start from scratch every night.

The only issue you’ll have is trying to decide which sorts of dinners will result in the tastiest and most versatile leftovers. As dedicated batch cookers ourselves, we’ve got a couple of ideas we think you might like...

Chilli (con carne or veggie)

Chilli

Batch cooking a large family-sized pot of chilli at the start of the week is a great way to get three or four different meals out of the original sauce mix. After you’ve made the initial sauce mix to serve over rice, you’ve got endless options for reusing leftovers during the week. Our favorites include:

  • Tacos with salad, cheese and avocado
  • Spiced spaghetti bolognese or lasagna
  • Healthy ‘nachos’ - roast up some crispy jacket potato skins and add a couple of dips
  • Sloppy joes or chilli dogs (serve leftovers in soft buns with pickles, honey-roasted carrots and mustard)
  • All-day breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs, mushrooms and peppers
  • Add a layer of cheesy mash for shepherd’s pie with a tangy twist

Roast meats - chicken, beef, or pork

Roast Meats

There’s so much you can do with leftover roast meats, they could easily be an entire blog post on their own:

  • Shredded chicken breast is fantastic in a vast array of broths and pasta dishes - try it as an addition to any Asian-style hot and sour soup mix, or throw a couple of handfuls into a delicately creamy lemon and herb tagliatelle
  • Roast beef offcuts make for a wonderful ‘cheats’ carne asada, provided they’re reasonably pink in the middle - just marinade overnight in a mixture of citrus juices, soy sauce, garlic, jalapeno and cumin
  • Any sort of spare pork works brilliantly on a rustic homemade pizza dough, or slow-cooked in a cider broth with chunky apples, red cabbage and fennel

Potatoes

Potatoes

It’s always worth doing a much larger batch of roast spuds or homemade wedges than you actually need for a single meal - there are very few follow-up dinners that won’t make room for an artfully reworked potato or three! We love yesterday’s potatoes in:

  • Bubble and squeak fritters, fantastic with a soft-topped fried egg
  • Simple seafood stew - simmer some tomatoes, herbs, garlic, white wine and stock over a low flame, then drop in a couple of handfuls of mussels, prawns and leftover potatoes with a few minutes to go
  • Use as a topping for cottage pies or baked fish fillets
  • Blend with a whole host of delicious soup bases for a richer and creamier finished product - leeks are the classic, but spuds also go great with roasted broccoli and cauliflower, asparagus, pea and ham, or in a simple clam chowder

One-Dish Bakes

One-dish bakes

One-pot roasts and bakes are arguably the reigning kings of time and energy saving, enabling you to jazz up midweek leftovers into a whole new set of easy family dinner menu ideas with almost no extra effort at all. Better yet, you’ve only got one roasting dish to wash up afterwards! Some of our favourites are:

  • Pasta bakes - whatever type of pasta you had a couple of nights ago, it’s sure to taste just as great reheated for 25min under a generous layer of grated cheese
  • Veggie or beef stews - add a dash more liquid, cover them tightly, and get them on a medium heat for another 40min or so; they’ll taste even better than they did the first time around
  • Curries - there’s always curry left over, but it never seems quite so appetising after a night in the fridge, does it? One of our favourite fixes is to make a super-speedy curried pot pie: top with a layer of shortcrust or filo pastry, and reinvent it as a spicy twist on an old English classic!

Range Cookers

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