6 Brilliant Meal Plans That Let You Cook Once and Eat All Week

Updated: Mar. 09, 2023

Map out dinner with these easy meal planning recipes. How? Start with a big batch of a basic ingredient. Think: roast chicken, pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes or meatballs. Serve a portion for dinner, then tuck the rest into a make-ahead recipe.

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Start With: Roast Chicken

Grab a rotisserie chicken from the store or roast your own with this top-rated recipe. Serve half for dinner tonight. Then, click to explore easy recipes that’ll use up all the leftovers.

Keep our top meal planning secrets in mind, too!

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Easy Chicken Enchiladas

This chicken enchiladas recipe is so quick and easy, and I always receive a ton of compliments. It quickly becomes a favorite of friends whenever I share the recipe. Modify the spiciness with the intensity of the salsa and the green chiles to suit your taste. —Kristi Black, Harrison Township, Michigan
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Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Facebook fans of my blog, Chef in Training, inspired me to make this creamy pasta casserole out of ingredients I had on hand. Success! I took the dish for another flavorful spin and added a bit of smoky bacon and toasted bread crumbs. —Nikki Barton, Providence, Utah
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Contest-Winning Broccoli Chicken Casserole

This delicious chicken and broccoli casserole recipe is a twist on chicken divan that came from an old boss. It’s quick, satisfying comfort food. —Jennifer Schlachter, Big Rock, Illinois
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Chicken-Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

Here's a different take on traditional stuffed peppers. I substituted chicken for the beef and used Cubanelle peppers in place of the green peppers that are usually featured in such a dish. —Ron Burlingame, Canton, Ohio
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Best Chicken Potpie

This is the best chicken potpie recipe! Chock-full of chicken, potatoes, peas and corn, this recipe makes two golden pies, so you can serve one at supper and save the other for a busy night. —Karen Johnson, Bakersfield, California
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Start With: Cooked Shrimp

Cooked shrimp is healthy protein to pack for lunch and dish out for dinner. We’ll show you how to top it on a salad, toss it in a pasta or add it to a stew.

Do you eat the recommended amount of seafood per week?

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Shrimp Tortellini Pasta Toss

No matter how you toss 'em, shrimp and thyme play nicely with any spring-fresh vegetable. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Seafood Cioppino

If you're looking for a great seafood recipe for your slow cooker, this classic fish stew is just the ticket. It's brimming with clams, crab, fish and shrimp, and it is fancy enough to be an elegant meal. —Lisa Moriarty, Wilton, New Hampshire
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Forgotten Jambalaya

During chilly times of the year, I fix this jambalaya at least once a month. It’s so easy—just chop the vegetables, dump everything in the slow cooker and forget it! Even my sons, who are picky about spicy things, like this dish. —Cindi Coss, Coppell, Texas
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Shrimp & Nectarine Salad

For a cool salad on a hot summer day, I combine shrimp, corn, tomatoes and nectarines with a drizzle of tarragon dressing. We love it chilled, but it's delectable served right away, too. —Mary Ann Lee, Clifton Park, New York
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Shrimp Orzo with Feta

Tender, hearty and flavorful, this recipe is one of my favorites! Garlic and a splash of lemon add to the fresh taste and heart-healthy benefits of shrimp. —Sarah Hummel, Moon Township, Pennsylvania
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Baked Mashed Potatoes

When it comes to mashed potatoes recipes, this is one of my favorites because they can be made ahead, refrigerated and then popped into the oven just prior to dinnertime. When my grandchildren come for dinner, I have to double this recipe. They love it! —Vivian Bailey, Cedar Falls, Iowa
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Skillet Shepherd's Pie

This is the best shepherd's pie recipe I've ever tasted. It's very quick to make, and I usually have most—if not all—of the ingredients already on hand. —Tirzah Sandt, San Diego, California
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Pierogi Quesadillas

When I had hungry children in the kitchen and nothing but leftovers, I invented these quesadillas. Now it's how we always use up our potatoes, meats and sometimes veggies. —Andrea Dibble, Solon, Iowa
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Bacon-Cheddar Potato Croquettes

Instead of throwing out leftover mashed potatoes, use them to make this potato croquette recipe. The little baked balls are yummy with ranch dressing, barbecue sauce or Dijon mayonnaise for dipping. —Pamela Shank, Parkersburg, West Virginia
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Meat Shell Potato Pie

Guests always comment on the presentation and flavor of this delightfully different dish. —Julie Sterchi, Flora, Illinois
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Spinach Quiche with Potato Crust

While this recipe is delicious using ingredients exactly as listed, it’s also a smart way to make the most of any leftover potatoes and veggies. Use 2-1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes and whatever cooked vegetables you have on hand. You can also substitute 1/2 pound Italian sausage for the bacon if you want a heartier quiche. —Heather King, Frostburg, Maryland
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Ham Potato Puffs

This is a different way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. It was an instant hit with our teenagers. —Brad Eichelberger, York, Pennsylvania
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Great-Grandma's Italian Meatballs

My great-grandmother started this easy meatball recipe with our family. We use ground beef and turkey for these meatballs, and the flavor’s so good, you won’t miss the extra calories. —Audrey Colantino, Winchester, Massachusetts
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Meatball Pizza

I always keep meatballs and pizza crusts in the freezer to make this specialty on the spur of the moment. Add a tossed salad and you have a delicious dinner. —Mary Humeniuk-Smith, Perry Hall, Maryland
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Contest-Winning Bavarian Meatball Hoagies

When my husband is not manning the grill, I count on my slow cooker. These meatballs are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser when I serve them as a party appetizer or spooned over crusty rolls and topped with cheese for irresistible sandwiches. —Peggy Rios, Mechanicsville, Virginia
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Dressed-Up Meatballs

Frozen meatballs and a jar of sweet-and-sour sauce make this microwave meal a last-minute lifesaver when racing against the clock. The flavorful sauce is dressed up with a hint of garlic and nicely coats the colorful mixture of meatballs, carrots, green pepper and onion. —Ivy Eresmas, Dade City, Florida
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Easy Stuffed Shells

I threw this recipe together one day when we had unexpected guests. It was an immediate hit and is now a family favorite. Get the kids involved when putting together this simple, savory dish. —Dolores Betchner, Cudahy, Wisconsin
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Crescent Turkey Casserole

How do you make a dinner of turkey and vegetables appealing to kids? You turn it into a pie, of course! My version tastes classic but doesn’t take any time at all. —Daniela Essman, Perham, Minnesota
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Skinny Turkey-Vegetable Soup

The blend of flavors and colors in this hearty soup will bring everyone at the table back for more. —Charlotte Welch, Utica, New York
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Turkey Bundles

This recipe is definitely a must-try, and all you do is bundle up creamy turkey filling in crescent dough. I usually double the recipe so I have extra for lunch the next day. —Lydia Garrod, Tacoma, Washington
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Turkey Biscuit Stew

This chunky stew makes a hearty supper, especially in the fall and winter. It'salso a great way to use extra turkey during the holidays. —Lori Schlecht, Wimbledon, North Dakota
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Mediterranean Turkey Potpies

Your clan will love these wonderful stick-to-the-ribs potpies with a Mediterranean twist. I always use the leftovers from our big holiday turkey to prepare this recipe. I think my family enjoys the potpies more than the original feast! —Marie Rizzio, Interlochen, Michigan
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Savory Pork Roast

I love this herbed roast so much that I make it as often as I can. It's wonderful for special occasions, particularly when served with sweet potatoes and corn muffins. —Edie DeSpain, Logan, Utah
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Carne Guisada

While living away from Texas for a while, my boyfriend and I grew homesick for the spicy flavors of home. We've made this recipe a few times now, and it goes really well with homemade flour tortillas. We love it over rice, too. —Kelly Evans, Denton, Texas
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Quick Tacos al Pastor

We loved the pork and pineapple tacos from a food truck in Hawaii. My husband, a high school football referee, gives my version a thumbs-up. —Lori McLain, Denton, Texas
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Pork Chile Verde

Pork slowly stews with jalapenos, onion, green enchilada sauce and spices in this flavor-packed Mexican dish. It's wonderful on its own or stuffed in a warm tortilla with sour cream, grated cheese or olives on the side. —Kimberly Burke, Chico, California
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