If You Cook a Batch of Beans . . .

by Katy on August 30, 2015 · 27 comments

If you cook up a batch of beans . . .

Black beans

You’ll want to assemble a couple pans of enchiladas. Good things you stocked up on $1 bags of shredded cheese and corn.

Cheese and corn

And those enchiladas will be like manna for those inevitable busy evenings.


And as long as you’re making enchiladas, you might as well cook up a batch of kale pesto.

Kale for pesto

You might not have any locally sourced artisanal parmesan cheese, but maybe you have a stash of those free-with-pizza parmesan cheese packets.

Parmesan cheese

Enough for a batch of pesto.

Parmesan for pesto

And as long as you’re making pesto, you might as well put together some spreadable butter.


And as long as you’ve made enchiladas, pesto and spreadable butter, you might as well bake up a couple loaves of banana bread.

frozen bananas

And since that banana bread is hardly a meal, you might as well throw last night’s chicken into the crockpot for soup.

chicken soup

And in the end you’ve got multiple meals, snacks and an unholy number of dishes to wash.

Future-Katy is going to be very happy with last-Sunday-Katy!

Do you take a day to assemble meals? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Mand01 August 31, 2015 at 1:42 am

I surely do. At least one day a fortnight I do a huge cook up for lunchboxes and dinners. Usually it is a Saturday, but it may be a Sunday depending on my schedule. This week my husband was dragooned into it as I didn’t have time to do anything due to assignments due for uni.

For lunches for work and school I usually make a combination of the following things:
– soup (usually a vegetable soup of some kind, made from whatever I happen to have), for me to take along with a roll for lunch;
– a curry or a casserole, which is portioned out into single serve containers with a grain such as couscous, quinoa or rice, for myself and my daughter to take and heat;
– cheesymite or pizza scrolls for my youngest daughter to take in her lunchbox;
– muffins for lunchboxes;
– cookies, usually chocolate chip and cranberry. I usually make enough to freeze dough balls for me to bake another batch later in the week.
For dinners I usually make:
– a pasta sauce;
– a curry;
for dinner later in the week. This week it was my husband’s job as he was home today. I also usually try to make dinner on Sunday do double duty for Monday night. So I might cook a roast chicken on Sunday and we will have quesadillas on Monday with the leftovers, and also put the carcass in the crockpot for stock.


Isabelle August 31, 2015 at 2:16 am

I don’t like to cook, and my freezers are full to the max (working on that…), so no place to stock pre-maid meals. So, short answer : no. I work only half-days, so I have time in the afternoon to prepare a (simple) meal. That said, I think it’s pretty awesome to have meals on hands for busy (or lazy…) days. When my freezer content goes down (??) I might make a couple “ahead meals” too. I do bake and freeze muffins for breakfast, now that I think of it.


Dawn C. August 31, 2015 at 2:23 am

Cute play on “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” or “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”!


K D August 31, 2015 at 3:39 am

I love the If you Give a … take on your post, very fun. It would seem that someone else could wash the dishes, someone that will benefit from all your hard work.

I do not generally take a day but I do cook ahead by making 2 dozen muffins at a time and freezing most of them for later consumption. The other big thing that I do is to pre-cook meat and then freeze it so that it is quick to prepare meals. I do this with hamburger/ground turkey, sausages, and chicken breasts. I also will make a large crock-pot of meat and freeze some (pulled pork, shredded chicken with Mexican spices). Many times I make a meal that will be good a second night during the week (planned leftovers).


Elise @ Simply Scaled Down August 31, 2015 at 4:00 am

Go Katy!!! I just barely managed not to murder everyone in my family and then stick my head in the oven (and let me tell you…that was a huge accomplishment!).

I did manage to bake up some hamburger buns (because spending $4 on a pack of buns just hurts!).


Lauren September 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

Elise, based off the price of the hamburger buns, I’m guessing they were allergy friendly in some way? If they were gluten free, do you mind sharing your recipe? I have not yet found one that bakes evenly. Thanks in advance.


Betty Winslow August 31, 2015 at 4:06 am

We keep self-chopped onion in the freezer for use in fast meals; I also cook up ground beef and freeze in small batches, to use in spaghetti sauce, pizze, etc. I’ve started making full-sized casseroles and freezing half, to have for crazy no-time-to-cook-and-do-dishes nights. I’d like to do more. It’s a slow process.


AshleyAshley August 31, 2015 at 4:41 am

If you give a frugal woman left overs 😉


Heather in L.A. August 31, 2015 at 6:10 am

And if you give a frugal woman a couple of crockpots she will rule the world..


Amy August 31, 2015 at 6:15 am

I love enchiladas 🙂
My partner is making beef briskit roast and we will eat left overs from this until Friday.
Monday – roast with carrots, sweade, Yorkshire pudding, onion gravy.
Tuesday – beef rendang curry with chipatis.
Wednesday – beef po boys big old sandwiches.
Thursday and Friday – beef hot pot with potatoes, mushrooms and pearl barly.
We’ll also have home made sandwiches each to take to work all week.
We did treat ourselves to cafe big fry up today though 😉
Enjoy your meals xxx


Amy August 31, 2015 at 6:17 am

I mean beef brisket and swede*


Lynda September 1, 2015 at 2:12 am

Swede = rutabaga 😀


Jackie August 31, 2015 at 6:21 am

I’ll be going back to work from maternity leave in 2 weeks . I work as a post partum nurse and I’m taking inspiration from you to not go to the cafeteria (the food is is gross anyways) or succumb to take out with my friends through the rest of the year. I usually pack rice bowls for work – rice, protein, frozen veggies and hot sauce.


jake August 31, 2015 at 8:09 am

Nice, it’s worth the effort and the dishes.

I usually make double if I’m spending time in the kitchen, – dinner, plus leftovers, plus a pan of whatever for the freezer. Yesterday I picked a cabbage from the garden, plus onions and herbs and made a big patch of beef cabbage rolls – a winter dinner ready to go. I did the same with spinach/ricotta stuffed shells a few weeks ago when I cleared out the spinach patch. I made an extra peach pie that is in the freezer, ready to bake. Double batches of zucchini bread, pizza dough, roasted beets, garlic scape pesto, apple sauce, fresh pasta – whatever. Chicken or Turkey stock after roasting one. Perogies, Chinese Potstickers, cookie dough…

Lots of wild chokecherries at the back of the garden – I made a few jars of pancake syrup yesterday as well. I needed to make pancakes this a.m. so I could sample it. Yum.

When I make a pot of beans – I make a dozen bean/brown rice whole wheat burritos with salsa and cheese – wrapped in foil, frozen, to take for lunches or heat in the oven after a long day. Plus extra beans for a pot of chili or soup. A big batch of some kind of wrap on the weekend is excellent to have something ready to go for lunches (Spinach Tortillas stuffed with teriyaki chicken/stir fried broccoli/rice, Breakfast wraps, Butter Chicken/basmati rice/peas in plain tortillas, lots of options). Enchiladas are a good idea.

I tried a new recipe on the weekend – a Ligurian vegetable pie from a Kale cookbook I have – kale, chard, onion, parley, potato, feta, havarti, eggs in an olive oil crust. Very good – left over wedges in the fridge to grab for lunches this week. I’m not sure how it would freeze tho’. Useful if you have way too many greens growing in the garden.



Melissa September 6, 2015 at 8:24 pm

I think I want you to come to my house and cook Jake!! All of that sounds delicious – I wish we had a garden big enough to grow substantial amounts of veges!


Sharon August 31, 2015 at 10:11 am

I, literally, just finished pulling chicken from the bone that was last nights roasted chicken dinner. With it, I made BBQ chicken for sandwiches and 2 cups cubed chicken for curry later this week. I also made cubed cooked potatoes and onions for the freezer to take camping, pre cooked bacon for the same trip, and currently have the prementioned chicken boned on for broth for soup at the end of the week..


Tara August 31, 2015 at 1:15 pm

We usual over cook a meal and put the rest in the freezer for another day. It works well on a can’t be bothered to cook day. Much cheaper than take out xx


Marcia August 31, 2015 at 2:40 pm

I really don’t care for frozen dinners, and now that I’m retired, I don’t make them. I will freeze large amounts of leftovers and use them up, though. As in, if I have guests and there is lots left over. As a general rule, I don’t think pre-cooked meat tastes as good as fresh either. I’m what is called a “super-taster.” My husband is not. He will not eat leftover mashed potatoes. That’s about the only thing he doesn’t eat as leftovers, though. I don’t mind soup frozen ahead—two of us cannot eat a whole pot of soup before tiring of it. I can tell when milk is going off a full two days before he can. Very strange talent, isn’t it?

Having been cooking for many, many years now, I do have a repertoire of fast to make meals in my head. And my husband is fond of most of them–goulash, spaghetti and meat balls (meat sauce is even faster), sage sausage quiche, hash and eggs, and plain burgers. Waffles and sausage or pancakes and sausage are two favorite winter meals –something about grey days and rain or snow storms always makes us want one of those. I keep rolls of Bob Evans sausage in the freezer–$3.50 # on sale–they are all good but we prefer the sage flavor, which is a bit spicy compared to the regular breakfast sausage. It’s very lean and cooks up quickly. Also, homemade pizza, which we had tonight–as long as I start the dough in the bread machine by 3 PM– is as close to “not cooking” as I can get. I buy the cheese at Sam’s Club and pre-measure 12 oz into separate bags. I buy low fat pepperoni (Marguerita brand 2/$5 on sale) and I use Prego sauce–1/3 jar per pizza is about right. I freeze the unused sauce right in the jar and take it out to thaw when I start the bread dough. Five minutes or less to make the dough, maybe 10 minutes to prepare the pizza, and about 22 minutes in my oven and dinner’s ready. It’s really enough for two meals, but we usually eat the second half as lunches. It’s so good we don’t bother with pizzeria pizza any more unless we are traveling.


marie August 31, 2015 at 2:44 pm

sounds like theme for {i’ll just go to the garden to check on things} then 2 or so hours later I’m back. After weeding, watering, harvesting, and checking on things. Then you must do something with everything you’ve harvested, like freezing, cooking, washing, and preparing them. whew, by mid-sept, i’m ready for winter!


Kathleen August 31, 2015 at 5:51 pm

I try to do a cook prep day every week. It depends on our ever changing daily schedule, but if I am home I make the most of my time. Shop, clean and prep all produce and put in canning jars in our refers after sealing with my food saver. Crock pot of beans, another of soup. Make sure to use my 3 food dryers to full use. We freeze extra portions of things in pint and quart jars.

We like having our produce ready to use. Makes meals a snap since we are always on the go. We are a vegan/vegetarian/gluten free household. If we are called away for a longer time than a few days to a week, we can toss our already prepped veggies and such into the freezer. Depending on the item, I might try to lay it our flat in a plastic freezer bag, but usually i just throw the items in the freezer until we return. Crock pot soups, sauces and so on are easy to prepare with the items from the freezer on my next cook day.


Kathleen August 31, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Forgot to add that I make up lunches in the easy lunch boxes for us to use during the week or for a quick meal at home or for travel. I cut up all the veggies and add olives, pickles in the large section. Hummus or other dip in small section. I add cut up fruit in the last section as I take it out of the refer. The fruit keeps better in the food saver sealed jars, so we remove it as needed.

I really like these lunch containers. I can do bento style and they make lunches more interesting. No excuse not to take a lunch as its already made. I do sandwiches as needed. Toasted gluten free bread. Sandwiches made too far in advance are not something we like.


Rachel H August 31, 2015 at 6:15 pm

I don’t have a prep day like you described. I have health issues, arthritis in my knees (having a knee replacement on September 14. Also fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. So I take meals one day at a time. The crock pot is my best friend. I use it almost every day. Doesn’t have to be watched, so I can rest, sleep or leave the house. We eat simple meals, spaghetti, tacos, burritos, also pots of Lima beans, black eyed peas, red beans and rice. My husband does help out, I work two afternoons a week, so I get something in the crock pot, he does the finishing up when he gets home.


Shannon September 1, 2015 at 6:35 am

Would you have a tasty and easy recipe for rice and beans??? Nothing fancy, just easy and yummy would be good.


Isabelle September 1, 2015 at 9:11 am

I’ve got an easy one for you
-cooked rice and cooked black beans, about equal amounts
-add a can or two of diced tomatoes, including the juice
– Add a cooked onions (sliced thinly) garlic and spices to your liking
Let it simmer about an hour, making sure you always have enough tomatoes juice in the pan so it doesn’t burn.


JD September 1, 2015 at 7:43 am

I cook ahead fairly regularly, but don’t set a day aside for it — I don’t have an entire day free any day of the week (I work five days, clean and wash clothes on Saturday, and have church on Sunday) so I can’t do that. What I do is cook extra large amounts and freeze some, put on a crock pot of beans now and then and portion them out for future meals, I freeze or can leftover soups, stews, chili, beans, etc., and I plan menus that involve items that can be used again in a different dish, such as a big pot of rice that goes with chicken and gravy one night, stir fry another night, and the tail end becomes part of a soup or rice pudding. Right now, I have leftover cut up carrot sticks and celery sticks cooking in homemade beef broth in the crock pot (the broth had been in the freezer), along with fresh onion and garlic, two things I always have on hand. I’ll add it to the leftover cube steak, the leftover peas and the leftover corn, thicken the broth some, and put it all in a pie crust that I made and rolled out last night then folded it up and put in a zip top plastic bag in the refrigerator. Tonight I’ll assemble it all, put it in the oven, and voila, a from scratch meal is ready in about 30 minutes. I love it when my plans work out!


Pamela September 1, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Hi. I have been an RN for 44 years. Nice to find another RN


Mariana Cisowska @ BrooklynBasedGirlfriend September 1, 2015 at 4:50 pm

I can relate. Regardless if I reheat dinner, cook one meal or bake, somehow I end up with an enormous amount of dirty dishes as well. The other day, while making oatmeal with fruit and squeezing orange juice, I literally managed to fill the sink full with practically all the dishes I own. #mystery


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