I Made This One Comfort Food Dish & It Lasted Me All Week Long

Comfort food doesn't exactly have single-serving size written all over it. These one-pot dishes fall more in line with what our parents used to whip up for feeding the whole house: spaghetti and meatballs, casseroles, soups, and stews. But just because we've moved out, and no longer need to prep enough nosh for an army of hangry teens, doesn't mean we can't work some similar kitchen magic with these nostalgic meals. Not only are many comfort food dishes easy to master with affordable ingredients, but they also tend to store well in the fridge or freezer — which means one thing: it's the ideal meal type for repurposing leftovers into new recipes throughout the week.

I put the above statement to the test by stretching one pot of homemade chili into a week's worth of repurposed dinners. With a little ingredient overlap, kitchen creativity, and one giant pot, I was able to feed myself and my roommate five separate comfort food riffs (from mini chili pot pies to a spicy shakshouka) that each took well under an hour to whip up (since the star ingredient had already been prepared). And I did it for a total of only $5 per serving! Scroll on to see how it's done — recipes instructions and shopping list included.

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

The Comfort Food Dish

For my one-pot, meal I decided on chili Why? Because chili is not only affordable to make (with lots of canned ingredients) and easy to assemble (just chop, pour into the pot, and simmer), but it can also be easily customized based on personal preference (spicy or mild, with black beans or pinto, meat or vegetarian, etc.). I went for a turkey take and cooked up my big pot in under an hour on Sunday evening.

Simple Turkey Chili
Makes 1 pot

2-3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey*
1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
1 2/3 cups white wine (or water)
1 (16 oz) can of white beans
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or oregano)
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 sea salt

1. Heat oil in pot over medium heat and sauté diced onions and garlic until softened — then add in ground turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cook until browned.

2. Add in crushed tomatoes, white wine, and white beans, and increase heat to medium high — then stir in remaining spices.

3. Once the pot reaches a boil, lower the heat and cover the chili to let it simmer for 20-3o minutes. Serve chili as is or cover pot with lid and store in refrigerator for remainder of week.

*Replace turkey with additional veggies (e.g. peppers, mushrooms, etc.) for a meat-free version.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Meal 1

Since no one wants to actually do any cooking on Monday, I simply took my leftover chili to the next level with a slew of add-ons. Because really, what's a bowl of chili without some fixins'?

Mexican Chili Bowl
Serves 2

1-2 cups of chili
2-4 tbsp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbsp green chile salsa
2 tsp fresh cilantro
1 tsp sour cream
1/2 avocado, diced
Slice of lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Corn tortilla, toasted and sliced

1. Preheat oven's broiler, then place cheddar cheese-covered corn tortilla on a baking sheet inside for 5 minutes (or until cheese is melted)

2. Meanwhile, heat chili (either in microwave or on stovetop) and place in serving bowl.

3. Top chili with salsa, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper.

4. Remove tortilla from oven, slice in pieces and serve with chili.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Meal 2

Tuesday's dinner is where things took an exciting turn; I'd recently made mac & cheese from scratch, and had the cheesy dish top of mind when the idea for a next-level chili mashup hit me. Portioning out and combining just a bit from the pre-made pot resulted in an even creamier, flavorful, and filling take on another fast and easy comfort food classic.

Chili Mac & Cheese
Serves 4

2 cups of chili
1 box of macaroni noodles, cooked by box instructions
1 1/4 cups of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of milk
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter and flour in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until mixed — and then stir in milk and finish off mixture with 1 cup of shredded cheese.

2. Lower the heat, stirring continuously until cheese sauce is fully melted and thickened — then mix in the chili until well incorporated.

3. Turn off the heat and add cooked macaroni into the cheese chili sauce, mixing until coated — finish by spreading and pressing mixture down into a rectangular baking dish.

4. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and stir together with panko bread crumbs and remaining shredding cheese — use this crumble mixture to top the macaroni and then season with salt and pepper.

5. Place in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes — or until bubbling, crusty, and golden.

6. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and serve with side salad of your choice!

*Tip: Mix in a dollop of green chile salsa and sour cream for an extra flavor boost.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Meal 3

On Wednesday I pulled another favorite from my comfort food arsenal and went with a riff on the classic pot pie. Whipping up a chicken, or in this case chili, pot pie would have also left me with a week's worth of leftovers — and so to align with my recipe repurposing intentions, I opted to instead make mini chili-filled pot pies (complete with a melty cheddar cheese topping). The personal pies ended up tasting savory with just the right hint of buttery sweetness from the golden crust — and took little to no time to assemble and bake. Plus, they looked damn adorable.

Mini Chili Pot Pies
Makes 4 mini pot pies

1 sheet of frozen pie crust, thawed
2 cups of chili
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425° F — meanwhile, use a water or wine glass to cut 4 circles out of thawed and unrolled pie crust dough.

2. Mold dough circles into a muffin tin (or 4 mini oven-safe ramekins) and fill each with a sprinkle of cheese, spoonful of chili, and another sprinkle of cheese.

3. Cut strips out of remaining dough and use to cover each mini pot pies — finish by dabbing each with an egg wash and then topping with salt and pepper.

4. Place in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (or until crust is golden and cheese-chili mixture bubbling) — serve with a side salad of your choice and enjoy!
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Meal 4

For Thursday's dinner I went with a sheet of loaded, cheesy, chili nachos. I am a firm believer that nachos can, and should, be considered dinner appropriate — and if you disagree, then whip this recipe up as an appetizer instead. It was a seriously easy and delicious way to use up a little more of the pot.

Chili Nachos
Serves 3-4

1 cup of chili
1 bag of tortilla chips
2 cups of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup of green chile salsa
2-3 tbsp sour cream
1-2 tbsp cilantro, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven's broiler and cover a sheet pan with tortilla chips.

2. Layer half of shredded cheese, chili, and remaining cheddar cheese on top of chips — finishing off with dollops of salsa, sour cream, and then sprinkles of cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place in oven for 5-8 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted and beginning to bubble. Remove, let cool slightly, and enjoy!
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

Meal 5

For my final meal, I saved a dish that would use up as much (or as little) chili as I had left to spare: shakshuka. I poured my remaining chili into a sauce pan with some seasonings, eggs, and cheese. From there I was able to feed a few friends within 30 minutes flat, what they thought was an entirely new and noteworthy meal!

Chili Shakshouka
Serves 3-4

2-3 cups of chili (or all that remains of the initial pot)
2 tsp harissa paste
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
3-4 eggs
2 tsp cilantro, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Corn tortilla, oven-toasted (optional)

1. Heat chili and stir in harissa over medium high heat in a sauce pan until just beginning to boil and bubble.

2. Use a spoon to indent several places in chili mixture for cracked eggs to sit — then cover pan with lid and let cook until eggs set (5-8 minutes).

3. Once eggs have set, sprinkle cheese on top and follow with salt, pepper, and cilantro.

4. Remove from heat and serve into separate bowls with toasted corn tortillas and sliced avocado (if desired).
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.

The Shopping List

Pot Of Chili & Repurposed Dishes
(assuming you already have olive oil, spices, and salt & pepper)

1. Lime
2. Avocado
3. Cilantro
4. Garlic
5. Onion

1. Can of white Beans
2. Can of rushed tomatoes
3. Corn tortillas
4. Tortilla chips
5. Macaroni pasta
6. White wine
7. Harissa paste

1. Ground turkey
2. Frozen pie crust
3. Salsa verde
4. Sour Cream
5. Milk
6. Cheddar cheese
7. Eggs
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