There is no arguing that today’s fast-paced world doesn’t afford many of us to take much time to plan and cook healthy, fresh meals on a daily basis. But what if you carved out some time over the weekend to make a few meals that would make many for the week ahead?
Check out the following recipes that you can easily turn into 2, 3, 4, or 5 different meals. If you make a fresh marinara sauce and double or triple the sauce recipe, it can also be used as a dinner of cream of tomato soup and sandwich (which could result from a double recipe of a meat loaf dinner). The marinara sauce could also be used for chicken Parmesan, but double the cutlets so that they can be used on top of a big dinner salad. You can make homemade cream of mushroom soup-double the recipe and use half for a soup and sandwich dinner, and the rest can be added to sautéed or rotisserie chicken served over rice, faro, or orzo which could also be used in cream of tomato soup to make the tomato soup more substantial. For a quick and easy cream of tomato soup—a shortcut is to add some half & half or fat-free half & half to marinara sauce to thin it out and voila; you have cream of tomato soup!
Chili and a simple meat sauce can be created at the same time the marinara sauce is made by doubling the sauce and doctoring it up for chili or the meat sauce. Meatballs can be used for a spaghetti and meatball dinner and then used for a meatball Parmesan sandwich and salad dinner.
Here are some menu ideas and a couple of recipes that you can stretch into more than one meal and all you need to do when you come home is to heat it up.
Marinara Sauce (Base Sauce)
This is the base for the chili, sauce for meatballs, and chicken Parmesan. If you want to make a simple meat sauce from the base, just brown some ground meat in a sauté pan with onions and garlic, and then add some of the base sauce to that.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
Salt, pepper, & sugar to taste
Handful of fresh, chopped basil
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium flame/heat. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, then lower the flame to medium low and add the garlic. Sauté until the onions and garlic are soft and caramelized, about 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Season the sauce with more salt, pepper, and sugar if needed.
Take some of this sauce (about 2 cups) and put it aside in a bowl—this is the sauce part of the chili. Add the basil to the rest of the marinara sauce. Put aside some of this sauce for the meatballs or meat sauce—as much as you think you would need for a meal.