One of the recommendations I often make to clients and in workshops is to “cook once, and eat two, three or more times.” Many times, life can get so busy that meal planning seems impossible and all we can do is try to quickly figure out the next meal—tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s school lunch, etc. When we do that we are constantly searching for recipes and depending on our creativity, which can quickly burn us out and leave us resentful of having to cook at all. But, with a tiny bit of planning and maybe some flexibility we can turn one round of cooking into two or three simple meals.
One of my favorite ways to stretch the food I make farther is with a grain salad. If I am making a pot of grains—rice, quinoa, millet, couscous, etc.—I always make extra. So much can be done with leftover grains: you can turn them into breakfast porridge, throw them into a big green salad for some added heft, mix them into soups or stews, fold them into veggie burger batter, and, my favorite, turn them into a grain-based salad. Grain salads are great because they can serve as a hefty side dish and are so incredibly flexible—any leftover vegetables, cheese, or salad dressing you have lying around can get thrown in!
If you’ve got 1 ½-2 cups or more of leftover grains, some vegetables, some salad dressing or oil and vinegar, and some sort of protein (although even that is optional), you’ve got a grain salad!
- 1 ½-2 cups leftover grains (rice, quinoa, millet, couscous, etc.)
- 1 or more cups vegetables (chopped or grated raw vegetables; leftover roasted, steamed, or stir fried vegetables; and marinated vegetables such as artichokes and hearts of palm, all work well)
- ¼ -1/2 cup or more of protein (chopped up or shredded leftover animal protein, chickpeas, beans, lentils, or cheese are all great)—optional
- Some moisture (salad dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
- Herbs and spices (oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, chili powder, and garam masala are all delicious)
- Mix the components together and serve.