“Cook Once, Eat Thrice.”  These are the wise words that my nutrition teacher taught in class.  And this has gotten me through so many nights of healthy nutritious meals when I just didn’t have the time or desire to cook.  Cook once, eat thrice.

It’s summer.  And while I can’t complain about the weather here, sometimes it does get ‘hot’.  (I put it in quotes because I lived in Chicago…and well, Fairfax ‘hot’ days are nothing compared to Chicago HOT days – trust me.)

In Northern California, air conditioning is very rare and the sun is relentless.  So my house gets pretty toasty by mid-afternoon.

Who wants to cook in the heat?  Not me.

I don’t want to eat out every night either.

That’s when I go back to the wise words…”cook once, eat thrice.”  Laura recommended eating the same meal 3x in a row:  Dinner, Breakfast and Lunch.  While that might work if I were single, it won’t work now.

Eating the same meal 3 times in a row makes it sound too much like just eating leftovers.  I don’t know about your house but, in mine,  the word, “leftovers”, has a negative connotation.  I know many clients can attest to this as well.

Here’s what I do to create a new and exciting meal with leftovers.

Some nights, I make enough to feed the family 2-3 complete meals.  That generally means doubling the amount of protein and veggies.  Then, I freeze the protein and I use the veggies for lunches or breakfasts.   On a later day, I defrost the protein and make an interesting salad to go with it.  I usually don’t reheat the protein to avoid drying it out too much.

This way we benefit from having food that is already prepared but not having the exact same meal.  There is still a little preparing involved but it requires minimal effort.  And importantly, with the protein already made, you can focus your meal planning and dinner preparation on creating delicious vegetable dishes.   Plus, you are getting more and different veggies in your breakfast and/or lunch than you would normally have.

I don’t do it with every meal I prepare.  It just doesn’t work well with everything.  Sometimes the extras are just enough for a lunch.  But I do it often enough to make it work.

Knowing you have a couple things in the freezer makes it really easy to plan around busy schedules – when you wouldn’t have time to make a full meal.

Remember one of the biggest stressors you can put on your body and your hormone balance is not eating well-balanced meals.  It has a domino affect on your blood sugar, cortisol, energy, mood… and the list goes on.
Here’s an example of what I mean…

Meal #1:  Jerk Chicken with Sautéed Greens (Served Hot)
Meal #2:  Fritatta with Sautéed Greens (Served Hot)  as I suggested in The Breakfast, Cortisol and Sleep Connection blog post.
Meal #3:  Jerk Chicken with Cucumber, Red Onion, Parsley, and Rice Salad (Served Cold)

You can get the recipe for Jerk Chicken and the Cucumber, Red Onion, Parsley, and Rice Salad here.

Happy Summer!!