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

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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Make: Simple Chicken Enchiladas

Calls for: 2 cups cubed cooked chicken

“This 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 chilis to suit your taste.” -Kristi Black, Harrison Township, Michigan
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Make: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

Calls for: 3 cups sliced cooked chicken breasts

“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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Make: Contest-Winning Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Calls for: 2 cups cubed cooked chicken

“This delicious twist on chicken divan came from an old boss, who gave the recipe to me when I got married. It’s quick, satisfying comfort food.” -Jennifer Schlachter, Big Rock, Illinois
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Make: Chicken-Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

Calls for: 2 cups cubed cooked chicken

“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 of Canton, Ohio
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Make: Favorite Chicken Potpie

Calls for: 4 cups cubed cooked chicken

“Chock-full of chicken, potatoes, peas and corn, this autumn favorite makes two golden pies, so you can serve one at supper and save the other for a busy night. These potpies are perfect for company or a potluck.” -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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Make: Shrimp Tortellini Pasta Toss

Calls for: 1 pound shrimp

“No matter how you toss ’em up, shrimp and thyme play nicely with any spring-fresh vegetable.” -Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Make: Seafood Cioppino

Calls for: 1 pound shrimp

“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 is fancy enough to be an elegant meal.” -Lisa Moriarty, Wilton, New Hampshire
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Make: Forgotten Jambalaya

Calls for: 1/2 pound shrimp

“During chilly months, 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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Make: Shrimp & Nectarine Salad

Calls for: 1 pound shrimp

“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 great warm, too.” -Mary Ann Lee, Clifton Park, New York
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Make: Shrimp Orzo with Feta

Calls for: 1-1/4 pound shrimp

“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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Start With: Mashed Potatoes

These creamy spuds are a weeknight dinner workhorse. The cozy side just keeps giving and giving! Serve it as a side tonight, then use the leftovers as a crown for your shepherd’s pie. Click for more creative ways to use up those extra taters.
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Make: Skillet Shepherd's Pie

Calls for: 3-1/2 cups mashed potatoes

“This is the best shepherd’s pie 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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Make: Pierogi Quesadillas

Calls for: 24oz. mashed potatoes

“When I had hungry children in the kitchen and nothing but leftovers, I invented Pierogi Quesadillas. Now it’s how we always use up our potatoes, meats and sometimes veggies.” -Andrea Dibble, Solon, IA
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Make: Bacon-Cheddar Potato Croquettes

Calls for: 4 cups cold mashed potatoes

“Instead of throwing out leftover mashed potatoes, use them to make croquettes. 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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Make: Meat Shell Potato Pie

Calls for: 2 cups mashed potatoes

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

Calls for: 24oz. refrigerated mashed potatoes

“I love this recipe because it is great to use up leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables, especially the day after a big meal. You can substitute sweet Italian sausage for the bacon if you want a heartier quiche.” -Heather King, Frostburg, Maryland
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Make: Ham Potato Puffs

Calls for: 1 cup mashed potatoes

“This is a different way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. It was an instant hit with our teenagers. Serve with steamed green beans, cauliflower or broccoli.” -Brad Eichelberger, York, Pennsylvania
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Start With: Meatballs

Homemade meatballs come together quick. Whip up a big batch for tonight, then freeze half to use throughout the week. (You can also go store-bought with our Test Kitchen’s recommended brands.)
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Make: Meatball Pizza

Calls for: 12 meatballs

“I always keep meatballs and pizza crusts in the freezer to make this specialty at 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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Make: Contest-Winning Bavarian Meatballs

Calls for: 32oz. Italian meatballs

“I use my slow cooker so much-unless my husband decides to grill for me-and these mouthwatering meatballs are just one reason why. They’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser when I serve them as party appetizers?or a yummy, filling sandwich spooned over crusty rolls and topped with cheese.” -Peggy Rios, Mechanicsville, Virginia
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Make: Dressed-Up Meatballs

Calls for: 2 pounds 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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Make: Easy Stuffed Shells

Calls for: 36 meatballs

”I put 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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Start With: Turkey Breast

Turkey isn’t just for the holidays! This versatile bird is a year-round hero. Roast it on a Sunday and it’ll be your secret shortcut for tasty soups, stews and casseroles all week long.
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Make: Crescent Turkey Casserole

Calls for:1-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast

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

Calls for: 1-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast

“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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Make: Turkey Bundles

Calls for: 2 cups cubed cooked turkey

“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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Make: Turkey Biscuit Stew

Calls for: 2 cups cubed cooked turkey

“This chunky stew makes a hearty supper, especially in the fall and winter. Plus, it’s a great way to use extra turkey during the holidays.” -Lori Schlecht, Wimbledon, North Dakota
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Make: Mediterranean Turkey Potpies

Make: Mediterranean Turkey Potpies

Calls for: 2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast

“Your clan will love these wonderful, stick-to-the-ribs potpies featuring a unique flavor 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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Start With: Pork Roast

Our favorite roast is here to rescue weeknight dinner. Dish out half of it for dinner, then enjoy the rest in a stew or stir fry tomorrow night.
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Make: Carne Guisada

Calls for: 1 boneless pork shoulder butt roast (3 pounds), cut into 2-inch pieces

“While living away from Texas for awhile, 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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Make: Quick Tacos al Pastor

Calls for: 15oz. refrigerated pork roast au jus

“At a truck stand in Hawaii, we tasted pork and pineapple tacos. My husband is a high school football referee and gives my version a thumb’s up.” -Lori McLain, Denton, Texas
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Make: Pork Chili Verde

Calls for: 1 boneless pork sirloin roast (3 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes

“Pork slowly stews with jalapenos, onion, green enchilada sauce and spices in this flavor-packed Mexican dish. It’s great 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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Make: Asian Pork

Calls for: 2 cups cubed cooked pork

“Here’s an Asian-inspired stir-fry that pairs nicely with a cucumber salad in vinaigrette dressing.” -Marlene Kroll, Chicago, Illinois
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Make: Double-Duty Pork with Spanish Rice

Calls for: 1-1/2 cups cubed cooked pork

“I make this Spanish rice dish whenever I have leftover pork. It’s perfect for two people. We like to eat it on a corn tortilla or with a salad.” -Rebecca Hodges, Huntsville, Alabama

Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.
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