If you're anything like me, there is nothing worse than realizing you're hungry and having to actually cook for yourself. For me, this means I generally rummage through my cupboards for whatever I can make the fastest. Sometimes, this is something relatively healthy, like rice and frozen vegetables, but more often than not, it's some variation of microwaved noodles. Which leads me to wonder: What meals can I make on Sunday and eat through the week?
Since I work from home, meals I can reheat during the week work well for both lunch and dinner, though even if you leave your apartment for the day, it can be a great budget saving tip to bring your lunch from home. Preparing meals for the week can also be helpful if you're following a fitness plan, as it can reign in temptation if you're prone to ordering in delivery or splurging at restaurants (though if you want to indulge, that's awesome, too).
Inspired by the AskReddit thread by iceteka which simply asks, "What's your favorite 'make a pot on Sunday and eat it all week; meal?" I scoured the comments for the most liked (and most unique) recipes people actually make and enjoy. I supplemented the list with some suggestions on how to spice up the recipes during the week; it can get boring to eat the same thing day after day, and if food is boring, then you'll probably stop eating it and let it rot in your fridge, no matter how much you have left over. But all these suggestions are just that — suggestions. The key here is to use your own judgment and preferences on what you enjoy, and what fits your dietary needs.
Still, though, these 10 picks are a good place to start. Eat up!
1. Vegetarian Enchiladas
Enchiladas earned the most votes in the AskReddit thread, and for good reason: Who doesn't love enchiladas? They freeze and reheat well and are extremely versatile. The recipe above is for vegetarian enchiladas (replacing meat with beans as a protein source also makes them cheaper, if you're on a budget), but you can also make vegan enchiladas or low-carb enchiladas, depending on your dietary needs.
2. One Pot Chicken Alfredo
If you're a foodie and you're not already following Tasty, get on that! Their one pot chicken alfredo recipe has rave reviews in terms of taste quality and ease of following the recipe. If you're looking for a lighter version of this Italian-American classic, you can cut down on the heavy cream and butter used in most recipes. Either way, it's hard to beat a filling pasta dish that comes together all in one pot.
3. Beans and Rice
Ah, beans and rice: A cheap, healthy classic. If you have a rice cooker or a crock pot, beans and rice is an extremely low maintenance meal; even if you're making it on the stovetop, though, it's still pretty foolproof (just don't burn your rice!). Beans and rice comes with a lot of variety, too. You can season the dish however you'd like when you first prepare it, of course, and during the week, you can use it as the foundation of various meals. For example, you can use beans and rice to fill your tacos, as the basis of your brunch plate, or to balance out a plate of roasted vegetables.
4. All Lentils, All The Time
Lentils are definitely an unsung hero as far as cheap, nutritious foods go. They're an excellent source of protein and fiber, low in calories, and full of vitamins. Redditors suggest putting lentils in the crock pot with vegetable broth, vegetables, and some seasoning to make a healthy, straight-forward lentil stew. To liven this up during the week, you can also use your lentils for a quick and easy lentil dahl (as shown in the video above) or a lentil ragu bolognese, taking a meat-free spin on the traditional hearty dish.
5. Hamburger Hash
While I haven't tried this recipe myself, I have to say, it certainly sounds filling! It might easily be the basis for other fast and easy meals, too — think sloppy Joes or served as a meat sauce with pasta.
6. Curry Is Your Friend
Curry is fantastic for winter; it's warm, it's hearty, and it can be pretty cheap to make at home, especially if you forego meat or seafood for cheaper proteins like tofu or lentils. Curry goes heavy on spices and seasonings, which means it reheats well and retains a lot of great flavors. Typically, you eat curry with rice or naan, but if you're looking for some mid-week variety, pretty much any carb will do to soak up the delicious spread.
7. Macaroni and Cheese Forever
As the Redditor above suggests, macaroni and cheese is pretty much foolproof, as well as delicious. The nice thing about macaroni and cheese is that it can actually be quite healthy, if you're into that. For example, for a lightened-up macaroni and cheese recipe, you can incorporate broccoli and nutritional yeast while cutting down on cheese and butter. If you're a butternut squash fan, you can incorporate the hearty vegetable into your mac and cheese sauce to give it a creamy and nuanced flavor. If you're looking for a gluten-free option, fear not! You can make a gluten-free macaroni and cheese by using cauliflower as the base. I know it sounds a little suspicious, but I've actually tried this, and can attest that it's very good!
8. Slow Cooker Chicken
When it comes to making easy meals in bulk, slow cookers reign supreme. Chicken-based dishes were quite popular on Reddit, likely because it's relatively easy to cook chicken. Chicken also embraces flavors really well, so you can serve it in a variety of ways. There are a ton of variations of chicken crock pot recipes for this reason, but they basically break down into: chicken + vegetable + liquid (broth, water, etc) + seasoning. You can serve the chicken as a full breast, shred it for tacos, dice it for burritos, etc. Slow cooker meals are also nice because you can cook while you're running errands or at work, giving you even more time out of the kitchen.
9. Slow Cooker Chili
As Redditors make clear, chili is a crowd pleaser. Chili is one of the simplest, most versatile meals you can make in a large batch. For health-minded folks, you can make turkey chili or even a one pot mac and chili hybrid using quinoa. If you want to go traditional, there's actually a whole controversy about what authentic chili is, but this recipe for traditional Texas chili is pretty popular. Regardless of which recipe you go with, chili is great for freezing and reheating because the flavors tend to develop the longer they sit, so you'll get more punch and nuance with each meal.
10. Simple and Satisfying Soup
Soup is one of those recipes you can make pretty much however you like it. It's also excellent because you can make huge batches of it to freeze and have on hand for yourself, or if you often have friends or family hankering for a fast, hearty meal. When reheating soup, it's easy to add a new protein (like chicken, tofu, beef, etc) or additional seasonings to spice it up. It's also nice to serve bread alongside grilled cheese, crusty bread, or a fresh salad. Of course, you can also use broth-based soup recipes if you want to cut down on the heaviness that can come with cream or milk based soups.
Images: yvonne lee harijanto/Unsplash