Eat Better and Save Money With These Easy Two-Night Meals


Planning your meals every week can save you a huge amount of time and money. The average American spent more than $7,000 on food in 2015, with $4,000 of that coming from the supermarket. By repurposing leftovers, you can save money at the grocery store and still enjoy fresh, healthy meals every night. Enjoy a delicious, affordable meat dinner on the first night, and save half for the second night, to be repurposed into a completely new meal.

Cooking a big batch of food and freezing the leftovers can save you money and prep time, but it can get boring pretty quickly. That's why we've found some of the best two-night meals to shake up the week's menu. Consider also using an online meal planner to help you get organized and save you even more time. (See also: Save Money and Eat Better With These 6 Online Meal Planners)

1. Chili

Night 1: Chili with Cornbread

Night 2: Tacos or Chili Cheese Dogs or Spaghetti Bolognese or Fritos Chili Pie

Make a large pot of chili using leftover ground beef or ground turkey. It freezes well, is inexpensive, can be customized to suit your tastes, and the leftovers can be used in several different ways. Many chefs also agree that chili is actually better on the second night.

For the first meal, you can doll up the chili with shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, lime, onions, cilantro, and tortilla chips. For the second night, you can use the chili to make tacos by simply filling each taco shell with 1/4 cup of chili, plus lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, and sour cream. You can also top a hot dog with leftover chili and shredded cheese for a quick chili cheese dog.

You can also use it in a traditional spaghetti sauce to make a quick spaghetti Bolognese. You can either top the cooked pasta with chili or combined the leftover chili with a can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce for a more traditional Bolognese sauce. Fritos chili pie is another quick and satisfying meal that is an especially big hit with teens and kids.

2. Rotisserie Chicken

Night 1: Rotisserie Chicken with Baked Potatoes or Oven Fries

Night 2: Chicken Tacos, Chicken Soup, or Chicken Pot Pie

Rotisserie chicken is extremely affordable and once you pick off all the meat, you can use it in virtually endless ways. You can repurpose it into shredded chicken sandwiches by mixing it with barbecue or teriyaki sauce. You can also make chicken salads, casseroles, burritos, nachos, stir-fries, and so much more. You can also use the leftover bones to make chicken stock, which you can later use with the leftover chicken to make chicken noodle soup or chicken tortilla soup. (See also: Get a Week's Worth of Dinners Out of One Chicken)

Buying a whole chicken typically costs less than $1 per pound, whereas buying pre-cut chicken pieces will cost you much more and won't go as far. If you need to save even more time, you can always purchase a precooked rotisserie chicken from your grocery store, but you won't save quite as much money as you would by just cooking it yourself.

3. Pork Tenderloin

Night 1: Pork Tenderloin with Steamed Seasonal Vegetables or Mashed Potatoes

Night 2: Pulled Pork Sandwiches or Burritos

Enjoy grilled pork tenderloin on night one. On night two, heat the leftover tenderloin in the crockpot with barbecue sauce for perfect pulled pork sandwiches. The pulled pork can also be used to make things like burritos or nachos. You can also make crock pot pulled pork the first night and then use it in endless ways throughout the week.

4. Steak

Night 1: Steak with Lemony Mashed Potatoes and Corn on the Cob

Night 2: Steak Sandwiches, Steak Salad, or Philly Cheese Steaks

Grilled flank steak is one of the most affordable ways to have a satisfying steak dinner at home. It is also one of the easiest cuts to cook correctly, so even beginners can master it. Sirloin steak is also affordable, healthy, and easy to use in a million different ways. For the second night, use the sliced steak in a steak sandwich, steak salad, burritos, or nachos.

5. Roasted Turkey

Night 1: Turkey Dinner with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, and Steamed Green Beans

Night 2: Turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey Pot Pies, or Turkey Reubens

Turkey is a satisfying meal around the holidays, but it can result in endless leftovers. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to use the leftover turkey that you slaved over. Turkey sandwiches are the easiest way to use up the turkey and any stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and/or mashed potatoes that you may have left over. It can also be used in enchiladas, casseroles, pasta dishes, and so much more. You can also make endless second-night meals with turkey breast and turkey tenderloin, so you don't have to buy and cook the whole bird.

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