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good food in a bad economy
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March 2010
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Once a week cooking?

I'm looking for some meal ideas that can be made ahead and last all week. Preferably not freeze ahead, but just soups or casseroles or whatever that will safely keep for several days. Also preferably vegetarian, but any suggestions are greatly appreciated!


You can make a "fake" lasagna out of just about anything, and it freezes well. (You may want to freeze them in salvaged aluminum lasagna pans from store-bought lasagna past...)

All ingredients are negotiable depending on what's on hand/cheap. I'm just listing what I put into each section....

Noodles: Sure, you can spring for lasagna noodles. But literally anything will work - spagetti, macaroni, penne, linguini... go crazy. Boil it until al dente - its okay if its kinda chewy, its going to be baked.

Red layer: Your favorite spaghetti sauce, the big "Prego" jar. Add: Mushrooms, onions, celery, bell peppers, meat substitute, chopped tomatoes, cooked eggplant, zucchini.... Season with whatever you like.

Cream layer: Start with a 16 oz tub of either cottage cheese or ricotta. Add 2 eggs. (or one. or none.) Stir in 1 box of spinach. Or some cooked/drained fresh spinach. or swiss chard, or well-cooked kale, beet greens... cooked & chopped broccoli, cauliflower... Again, season with whatever you like.

In your casserole dish: Start with pasta. Then red sauce, then more pasta, then white, then pasta, then red... add cheese between whatever layers you feel appropriate. Personally I like ending with a red sauce layer & topping with cheese. Bake until whole mess warm & bubbly, with cheeze nicely toasted...

As you can imagine, you could mix in just about anything - leftover carrots & green beans, garbanzos & other beans... Its really just a matter of deciding which layer they belong to. Put in what you like, leave out what you hate.

This usually makes me one 13 x 9 pan, full to the brim. And depending on who's eating, it'll easily last several days. (And if you make 2 or 3 big pans in one session? You'll have some for the freezer...)