Stretching Dinner with Planned-Overs a Menu Monday Muse

Heather says:

I didn’t get to the pot roast last week, it’s still safe in the freezer, instead the stewed chicken recipe stretched further than I ever thought it could. Everyone wanted it again the next night -with the exception of pizza, this is rare with the kids- the rest I shredded.  The shredded chicken and remaining sauce was mixed with a variation of my Spanish rice recipe (I skipped the tomatoes) that was spooned into bell peppers, enchilada sauce and cheese were added and dinner was fab. I got a little carried away with the amount of rice I thought I’d need, so tonight I’ll make a very thin bechamel and turn the leftovers into a creamy Southwestern chicken and rice soup.

I call meals that evolve like this planned overs and they are quite different from leftovers in that they are part of something new.

Below are a few of our meals that transition well into other items. Usually so well that I purposely double the first batch.

Batch cooking is both time and energy saving, the oven only runs once.

Meatloaf -> Sandwiches -> Vegetable Beef Soup or Spaghetti Sauce

Chicken or Turkey -> pilau, jambalaya, or chicken bog -> chicken pot pie

Pot Roast or Wine Braised Shoulder Roast-> broiled beef and cheddar sandwiches -> cottage pie (sweat some vegetables, shred the beef, pour into a pie plate with gravy, and top with mashed potatoes and occasionally cheese, bake until bubbly) -> vegetable beef soup

Lasagna (double the sauce) -> Company worthy spaghetti or baked ziti

So Home Eccers, I’d like to hear your take.

Do you already utilize a planned-over concept, is it something you’re willing to give a try, or am I completely off in left field?

This post has been submitted to Mindful Menus.


  1. Courtney on May 24, 2010 at 12:08 am

    I'm not a great cook, but I just read this post tonight after finishing my spaghetti made with leftover taco meat from last night. I love reading all of the suggestions!

  2. Marianne on May 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    First night…roast chicken and random sides
    Second night…Asian chicken slaw (made with fresh cabbage and leftover chicken)
    Third night…pierogies with sauteed cabbage (since there’d be plenty from the head of cabbage that wasn’t used for the slaw)

  3. Jo-Lynne on May 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I need to do much more of this.

  4. Tracy on May 18, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I do alot of once a month cooking and prepping. I make a big batch of spagetti sauce for pasta and pizza night {every friday}, I make all my own stocks for meals later too. A local grocer will sell me chicken backs for cheap! I also prepare a variety of diffrent chicken and beef burgers for the grill. This month I made pesto chicken burgers, cordon bleu chicken burgers and french onion burgers with cheese in the middle. I also cooked off a big ham and stored the leftover meat and broth in quart containers for ham and green beans or bean soup. I could go on and on with the prep I do but Im afaraid I would run out of room.

    • HeatherSolos on May 18, 2010 at 12:05 pm

      Do go on, you should see the novels the spammers manage to leave. 🙂
      Could you link me to the French onion burgers? They sound excellent..

  5. Lucy on May 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

    My crew eats everything the first time around! The only thing this works for for me is a really big pork or beef roast that they leave enough of to make stir fry later.

    • HeatherSolos on May 18, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      When I use this technique I frequently double or triple the recipes. Last week the stewed chicken was from 10lbs of chicken legs, served with sides. If I didn't do side dishes there'd be mutiny.

  6. @MrsBYork on May 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I try to do this most weeks – in fact I often do a traditional British Sunday roast purely for the leftovers!

    Sunday: roast chicken – Mon: Sandwiches – Tue: curry/ pie/ salad/ stew -Wed/ Thur: stock – soup/ risotto

    Sunday: roast beef – Mon: sandwiches – Tue: Stew/ pie – Wed: pasta bolognese/ chilli

    Sunday: roast lamb Mon: Sandwiches Tue: lamb & pepper pizza/ pasta – Wed: shepherd's pie – Thur: (if bone-in) Stock – scotch broth/ risottto

    Sunday: baked ham – Mon: sandwiches (spotted the theme yet? Y & yes, I do work late on Mondays!) – Tue: Salad – Wed: pie (usually with chicken) – Thur: pasta

    • Stacy on May 18, 2010 at 4:03 am

      I like the way you have some structure to it all–different meat, same pattern. I'm not so good at that type of planning, but maybe if I put a general framework like this into place, it would make things a lot quicker and easier to implement. Thanks for the good ideas.

  7. CJ McD on May 18, 2010 at 12:54 am

    I love planned leftovers too. Saves time and money. Even better when you plan extends longer than you thought. Sounds like you has a delicious serious of meals Heather. Wish I lived closer. I'd pop in with dessert.

    • HeatherSolos on May 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      You would be welcome, we enjoy guests. . . usually.

  8. Stacy on May 17, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I am learning to do this, but don't have as many ideas for it as you all have listed here. The main thing I do is reuse cooked meats. The most frequently-used in our house is chicken. I have taken to roasting chickens very often since our local market sells them so cheap–about $3.50 for a whole chicken. I roast them and we just eat the roasted the chicken the first night. Then I usually make chicken tacos or burritos (I've been making my own tortillas for a couple of months, and those definitely "make" the meal) the second time around. The third stretch is some kind of chicken soup–I've been mainly doing regular chicken soup, Cuban style (add cumin, oregano, lots of garlic, etc. Then cilantro and lemon when you serve the bowls.), or southwestern/tortilla soup. Also, I usually cook the bones and scraps in the crockpot on the first night to make broth which I either freeze or use on the third night.

    • Stacy on May 17, 2010 at 10:54 pm

      I should add that, like Rebecca, we also often just use whatever we make for lunches for all of us the next day at work and such.

  9. Rebecca on May 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I definitely try to plan leftovers, but I usually use them for lunches instead of reworking them into other meals, unless I am roasting a bird and want to use the cooked meat in something else.

    Planning leftovers helped me over Mother's Day weekend: I made a HUGE pot of marinara with fresh veggies on Friday night (I simmered it all night long!), and then used a third of it for pizzas at my parents' on Saturday, then another third for a poached egg casserole when we hosted my in-laws Sunday morning, and then the last third was left for a quick weeknight dinner with pasta.

  10. Melinda on May 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Okay, I gotta ask. How do you turn leftover Jambalaya into chicken pot pie?

    • HeatherSolos on May 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      I don't.. My chart is deficient in design, the pot pie comes from leftover chicken. I just meant it is a second option, quite different in nature than the chicken and rice dishes in the first section.

      • caroline on May 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm

        I don't know…that could be good. Instead of cubed chicken and veggies, dump some jambalaya in the pie crust and bake.

        • HeatherSolos on May 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

          Well, if I were going to make it, I'd probably make sure there was a lot more bechamel, since the rice (even cooked rice) would still soak up a bit)

          • Miranna on May 18, 2010 at 4:11 pm

            That has been my biggest problem. I'll make a BIG pot of jambalaya, and we'll (and by we'll, I mean my husband) eat off of it all week. I would love to come up with something else to use it for.

  11. blossomteacher on May 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    We do a version of planned overs–my husband and I grill enough meat for the week on Saturday or Sunday. A few beef steaks, chicken, pork chops, ribs, burgers etc. Whatever was on sale that week. So one day, I might thinly slice a steak for philly cheesesteak pizza. The next might be steak or chicken quesadillas. The pork chops might get smothered, or chopped up into a stir fry. The burgers might get pounded into taco fillings. The cooked chicken might go into soup, chimichangas, chicken spaghetti, chicken pot pie, or poppyseed chicken. It has worked really well, and forces me to be creative instead of going out or running to the store…I already have dinner on hand, now just what form will it take!?

  12. ThatBobbieGirl on May 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    For years, I've deliberately made extras when I cook so other meals in the week can be much quicker. Sometimes I know ahead of time what I will do with the rest, but usually I just wait for inspiration or see what I have time and energy to make.

    Meatloaf – if it's firm, I sometimes reheat slices in a hot skillet, turning carefully. I've also warmed slices of meatloaf in the oven with a slice of cheese over each piece. (Personally, I prefer to eat it cold with ketchup!)

    Sometimes I'll make a huge pot of chili or my very meaty spaghetti sauce if I know we're going to have an insane week, because these are things my family will eat for several meals without complaint, especially if I try to vary it a bit. Chili can be wrapped in tortillas w/ cheese & chopped onion, served with tortilla chips, made into Cincinnati Syle Chili by serving over spaghetti and topping w/ onions and cheddar cheese.

    • HeatherSolos on May 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

      I use the giant stockpot I bought for waterbath canning for soup. Especially when I make albondigas, I love to freeze it for an easy night in the future.

      I haven't made chili in a while, you may have decided dinner for me (the kids won't be happy with you, c'est la vie).

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