By Alison Diven, Contributing Author
Are you having one of those weeks? Do you need an action plan for a few days of no-stress, family-pleasing, yet healthful meals? After multiple rounds of illness in our household, I sure do! Picture this: cook (very) simply tomorrow night, then have the next two nights virtually off, while enjoying 3 different dinners—BBQ loaded baked potatoes, deluxe taco bowls, and portobello mushroom pizzas.
We’re following this plan ourselves right now, and it’s such a relief. The flavors are familiar, the cooking simple, and I know we’re all still eating healthy meat, nourishing fats, and even vegetables. For a pregnant mama coddling a sick toddler and exhausted husband, this is very good news, indeed.
It all starts with slow cooking a beef roast, then shredding the meat and seasoning it three simple ways. First, it gets smothered in BBQ sauce atop baked potatoes with all the fixings and a side salad. Then, it joins fresh vegetables, beans, and rice with salsa and sour cream for a Tex-Mex treat. Finally, it meets Italian herbs, portobello mushrooms, and cheese (if you like) for a quick broil, with leftover side salad. Simple and satisfying.
It’s a fabulous way to stretch an already affordable cut of beef, and without a single complaint about leftovers. I’ve written the instructions for a family of 4, but it would also work for a family of 6 without using a bigger roast; just scale up the other ingredients. For those on a no-dairy diet, it’s easy to leave out the cheese, sour cream, and butter.
Because I’m so intimately acquainted with the brain fog that comes with challenging seasons—first trimester, anyone?—I’ve made this plan as user friendly as possible. You’ll find a printable shopping list and explicit step-by-step instructions for each night. So just print and go, girl! You can do this.
- Because my goal is ease, I call for store-bought BBQ sauce and salsa, canned beans, and an optional box of baby greens. You’ll want to look for ingredient lists that are free of GMOs, corn syrup, yucky food additives, and your family’s allergens. Of course, you’re welcome to make your own and save money that way! Kimi notes: I keep (affiliate link) Eden’s beans on hand for recipes such as this. It’s cooked with kombu, a nutritious seaweed that makes them digestible.
- The one condiment I do call for making at home is salad dressing. It’s just SO easy and far superior (and cheaper) to what’s available even in health food stores, especially the fats, which are important to me.
- A whole chicken or pork shoulder would be excellent substitutes for the beef pot roast. The flavors will still work beautifully.
- I always recommend grass-fed beef and dairy products, when possible. Not only are they healthier for you, the cow, and the planet, they often just taste better. You won’t believe the magic grass-fed beef, slow cooking, and salt and pepper make together! Be sure to save the bones and extra cooking liquids for your next batch of bone broth.
- If you end up with leftover odds and ends, you can mix and match them to make a couple of fabulous breakfast frittatas or omelets.
Shopping List & Recipes
Click to download the Cook Once, Eat Thrice Shopping List PDF. You’ll also want to print all three step-by-step recipes below.
- 3 lbs bone-in beef pot roast, preferably grass-fed
- 1½ to 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup BBQ sauce, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1½ cups rice, white or brown
- water or broth as directed by package or rice cooker
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1-2 heads lettuce OR 1 large box baby greens
- Your favorite salad vegetables, like carrots & celery or tomatoes & cucumbers
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 large baking potatoes, preferably organic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
- Butter for serving (optional)
- Sour cream for serving (optional)
- Cook meat. In the morning, place the roast in the slow cooker and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, until very tender and “shreddable.”
- Bake potatoes. 1-1/2 hours before dinner, turn the oven to 400. While pre-heating, scrub potatoes, pat dry, prick skin, and rub with olive oil. When oven is hot, place potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, turning over midway, or until the flesh is soft when tested with a fork.
- Cook Rice. Meanwhile, cook rice according to package or rice cooker directions, adding salt and chili powder before cooking. Place cooked rice in storage container and refrigerate.
- Flavor meat. When meat is done, remove meat to large bowl and shred with two forks. Spoon some of the cooking juices into the meat to moisten it. Put one third of the shredded meat into a small saucepan, one third into a storage container, and one third into another storage container. To the saucepan, add ½ cup BBQ sauce and set aside. To the first storage container, add ½ teaspoon cumin and combine. Cover and refrigerate. To the second storage container, add ¼ teaspoon oregano, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Combine, adding more cooking juices as needed to incorporate tomato paste. Cover and refrigerate.
- Prepare salad and dressing. Wash and cut up vegetable toppings. Set aside. Combine 1 cup olive oil, ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, etc and emulsify with whisk, blender, or immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Assemble Meal. Warm BBQ sauce and meat reserved in saucepan. Slice green onions. Serve potatoes topped with butter, BBQ beef, sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onions. Serve ½ the salad greens topped with ½ the vegetable toppings with the homemade salad dressing.
- Prepared cumin-flavored beef from Night #1
- Prepared rice from Night #1
- 1 can black, pinto, or kidney beans
- ½ cup frozen organic corn kernels
- 1 large bell pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes (if in season)
- 1 large or 2 small avocados
- 1 handful cilantro
- ½ cup salsa
- ½ cup sour cream (optional)
- Leftover sliced green onions
- Rinse and drain beans. Rinse frozen corn in warm water and set aside for a few minutes to thaw. Chop bell pepper, tomatoes (if using), and cilantro. Slice avocados.
- Meanwhile, gently warm shredded cumin beef and rice. You can use a single large skillet on low and place the beef on one half and the rice on the other half.
- Assemble taco bowls, layering rice, beans, beef, vegetables, avocado, sour cream, and salsa.
- Prepared oregano-tomato shredded beef from Night #1
- 4 large or 6-8 smaller portobello mushrooms
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces Italian melting cheese (like mozzarella), sheep-milk feta, or goat chevre
- Leftover chopped bell pepper and/or tomato (optional)
- Leftover green onions (optional)
- Leftover salad greens from Night #1
- Leftover salad vegetable toppings from Night #1
- Leftover salad dressing from Night #1
- Set oven to broil.
- Gently brush dirt off mushrooms. Cut out mushroom stems. Brush tops (smooth side) of mushrooms with olive oil and place top side up on baking sheet.
- Broil mushrooms for 3 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning.
- Turn over mushrooms and spread shredded beef over the shallow cavity. If you have any left over, add chopped bell pepper and/or tomato. Top with cheese.
- Broil for 2-4 more minutes, watching very carefully to prevent burning.
- Serve immediately alongside salad greens, salad vegetable toppings, and salad dressing. Sprinkle green onions on top, if you have any leftover.
Looking for More Easy Family Dinners?
Check out these delicious slow-cooker, quick, and one-pot meals:
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Easy Thai Curry Noodle Soup
14 Easy Dinner Recipes (That Are Healthy and Frugal Too!)
Cucumber Tuna Boats
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