Healthy Lifestyle Hack: Cook Once, Eat Twice (plus Roasted Chicken Provençal recipe)
I plan my dinners for the week ahead on Sundays. I shop on Monday usually because it’s not as crowded but I go with a list in hand and knowing what I’m making. Even though I like to cook, I am also pretty busy and want to save time in the kitchen. So here’s what I do: I cook it once and eat it twice. I’m not talking leftovers. I’ll give you some examples.
On Sundays we often have salmon. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we have access to really good wild caught salmon. We buy a freezer full (whole, unfilleted) when it is running (we are partial to Coho) because salmon freezes well. My husband defrosts and fillets it and cooks it up with either our favorite lemon onion topping or spice rub nearly every Sunday. Salmon is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, the brain boosting fat we need for good concentration for the week ahead.
But both fillets are too much for our family of four, even with two teenagers. We always have leftovers. So a few days later, I turn the leftover salmon into delicious salmon cakes. I have an amazing recipe from The Barefoot Contessa (link here), which is made faster by not having to cook the salmon as she does. I make it gluten free by toasting gluten free bread and then whirling them into crumbs in the food processor.
Another one that I do quite often is roasting a chicken and then making chicken tacos later in the week. My Roasted Chicken Provençal (recipe below) is always a hit with some roasted veggies on the side. Then a few days later I take the leftover chicken meat–there’s usually a breast or two, maybe a leg–and shred it up, add taco seasoning and some water, and warm it in a sautée pan. Open a couple cans of organic black beans, make a big cabbage slaw with cilantro and lime dressing, some avocados and store bought pico de gallo, and Dinner #4 is ready in no time.
Another way to “Cook Once, Eat Twice” is to make twice as much and freeze half for later. This works great with soups or chili especially but could work for casseroles as well. All you need to do is pull the frozen food out when you’re planning your meals on Sunday and let it thaw in your fridge and warm it up when you get home from work.
Hope these suggestions help make dinner time easier and healthier!
ROASTED CHICKEN PROVENÇAL
1 organic roaster chicken, giblets discarded
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic depending on their size, minced
1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
More olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Assorted vegetables like sweet potatoes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cut into 1 inch chunks.
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450˚. Rinse the chicken with water and dry with several paper towels, inside and out. The dryer the better! Place chicken on roasting pan, breast side up.
Mix together next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Now this next bit is only slightly tricky—stick your finger between the skin and the breast near the cavity and shove a finger full of the garlic herb mixture in the pocket. Do the same for the other breast. Flip the bird over and stick some between the skin and the thigh meat. Spread it around in there and use it up.
Rub some olive oil on the skin all over the bird. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the inside and outside. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
Place in the oven at 450˚ for 30 minutes. Lower the heat to 350˚ and cook another 45 minutes or so until the meat registers 170˚ on an instant-read thermometer stuck into the thigh but not touching the bone.
While your chicken is cooking the first 30 minutes at 450˚, wash and chop up your vegetables to be roasted. Place them on a sheet pan and drizzle all over with olive oil. Stir them around with your hands until they are covered with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Put the vegetables in the oven on another rack at the time you turn the oven down to 350˚ and they should be ready about the same time as the chicken. But do check on them because sometimes they cook faster and you don’t want to burn those yummy veggies.
Transfer your chicken to a plate and let it rest a few minutes. Last but not least, skim the fat off of the pan drippings and pour them into a small pitcher to pour on the meat and vegetables. It is really tasty from the garlic and herbs.