:::: MENU ::::

Double-Duty Meals


Lately, I’ve really been trying plan double-duty meals. These are meals that I cook once and then repurpose into a different meal later in the week. It saves me time on cooking and is a little bit “fancier” than just having plain leftovers because the leftovers are repurposed in a new way. One example is that I like to make beef tacos one night, and then a couple nights later I’ll simmer the leftover ground beef in marinara sauce and serve it over noodles as spaghetti.

This week, the base of the double-duty meals was beef roast.

Dinner #1, I did a traditional roast. I cooked it in a crockpot (bonus points for ease) with potatoes and carrots. Easy and delicious as-is.

Dinner #2, I shredded up the leftover beef roast and put it back into the crockpot with basically the exact same stuff (potatoes and carrots, plus I added some diced onion). This time, I added beef stock and some seasonings and made it into a hearty beef stew, served with rolls and salad.

It’s been saving my sanity as our evenings have been PACKED. I’m still getting the hang of this whole “single mom” thing. The kids’ homework is pretty extensive (they’re first graders and their homework averages us 2 hours to complete everything!). So having these easy meals, especially when cooked in the crockpot, has been a game-changer because it frees me up to work with the kiddos and get their homework completed in time for baths, books, and bed.

Do you have any favorite Double-Duty meal ideas to share?



  • Reply Louise |

    That homework is insane! I’m also a single parent so it was important to me to pick a primary school that had a no homework policy. My son is in Grade 2 and it’s been great so far. Just a reader to do together each night, and now that his reading is coming along well we can pick whichever book we like instead of the (boring) school readers. If you get the chance to cut out the homework, do it. I stay in regular contact with the class teacher and if he isn’t getting something at school we spend an afternoon or a week of afternoons on it together. It’s very sensible and there’s plenty of research to say homework in primary school doesn’t make a difference anyway.

    In terms of food, I am no use because I fall at providing home cooked meals at the moment!! It’s hard to do it all.

    • Reply Ashley |

      YES! I’ve looked into the literature on early childhood education and have seen the same thing. Furthermore, grades at this age (1st grade) don’t predict later academic or career success. I’m not really a fan of how academically-oriented their school is and the pressure they put on getting all A’s. That being said, I’m totally NOT in a position to change the kids’ schools right now. It’s been a huge social support network with their friends and the kids’ parents (mostly moms that I’m friends with) and is the main source of consistency in the change the kids have experienced this semester. Sooooooo they’ll be staying put for now. I don’t love it. But it is what it is.

  • Reply Margann34 |

    I will sometimes shred roast or baked chicken, cook it in BBQ sauce and have BBQ sandwiches.

  • Reply Cheryl |

    I can’t image how much homework they’re going to have in high school. Nice job in cooking once and eating twice.

  • Reply Den |

    I buy boneless chicken breasts on sale – 10 pounds at a time – clean, cut into smaller pieces and put half in one cake pan with salt and pepper and the other half in another cake pan with fajita seasonings. Bake for 45 minutes, cool, then shred and package for the freezer. Easy dinners include: chicken noodle soup, chicken stew, chicken stir fry, chicken fajitas, chicken nachos, and chicken on salads.

    Ground Beef:
    I buy large packages when on sale, some I repackage into smaller amounts and freeze raw for hamburgers. The rest I cook immediately. Some I freeze as plain cooked hamburger for spaghetti, lasagna, and chili. Some I season with taco seasoning for tacos, nachos, enchiladas and burritos and then freeze.

    Pork Roast:
    Buy on sale and cook in slow cooker with salt, pepper and onions. When cooked, shred and freeze in smaller packages. Use for bbq pork sandwiches or stir fry with rice and veggies.

    Scramble a dozen eggs, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, sausage, bacon (or any add-ins that you like), add shredded cheese. Wrap in flour tortillas and freeze. Easy microwavable breakfasts or dinners.

    Now I’m hungry:)
    Hope this helps!

  • Reply Laura |

    Honestly I would be tempted not to do the homework, and not be shy about telling the school why. Two hours is insane in elementary school. At that age it should be 30 minutes, max. How can you have any family time , which is important, if you spend the whole night doing homework.

  • Reply Shanna |

    That homework is not developmentally appropriate for their ages. The most they should be doing is 20 minutes or so. I would set them up with homework for 20 minutes and as long as they are working for that 20 minutes put it away after that. Just let the school know you are not doing more than that per night. I bet all the parents feel the same as you do, either the teacher is not doing her job or the school is not versed in developmentally appropriate curriculum.

  • Reply Katie |

    That level of homework is ridiculous. 20 – 30 minutes of reading, and an occasional project for first grade. Any more is just busywork, and is not reinforcing concepts. I’m sorry you have to deal with that on top of everything else.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    I just want to say I think it is wonderful that you are cooking like this. I remember your posts way back about your large food budget. Excellent excellent progress! You should be proud.

    As for meals, I don’t have much to offer. I’m vegetarian and single, so I typically batch cook a large dish and have it several days in a row. I am a fan of breakfast for dinner though. Quick, cheap, and so much better, for some reason, than breakfast for breakfast.

So, what do you think ?