The Buddy System

Throw together four fridge- and freezer-friendly entrées in one fun-filled afternoon

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Everything’s more fun with a friend. That adage is especially true in the kitchen, where a little company can lighten the load, whether you’re peeling vegetables or scrubbing pots. So why not tap into that energy, pool resources with a favorite pal, and plan an afternoon of cooking for the week ahead? We’ve mapped out a make-ahead strategy that results in two sets of four main dishes that each serves four people. Read on for our goof-proof recipes, tips, lists, and timetables. Now all you have to do is get together—and get cooking!

What you’ll need for these recipes:
– 1 large stockpot or soup pot

– 1 large and 1 medium saucepan

– At least 1 complete set of measuring cups and spoons

– 2 cutting boards

– 1 food processor

– 2 chef’s knives and 2 paring knives

– 2 shallow bowls

– 2 9-inch square baking dishes

– 2 large baking dishes

– 2 2-qt. storage containers for Black Bean and Chile Posole

– 2 medium rectangular storage containers for Crispy Tofu Fingers

– Aluminum foil for Samosa Stuffed Peppers

– Wax paper or parchment paper for Crispy Tofu Fingers

Divide & Conquer

Divvy up the following tasks to have all four recipes ready in about 2 hours.

Sprint 1

15 minutes

➻ Preheat oven to 350°F. Boil 1 gallon of water in a large pot to prepare for Sprint 2.

➻ Set out all pots, pans, bowls, and storage containers

➻ Halve bell peppers for Samosa Stuffed Peppers, and trim endives for Endive Gratin.

Sprint 2

30 minutes

➻ Bake bell peppers for Samosa Stuffed Peppers.

➻ Ladle 3 cups boiling water from pot over pasilla chiles for Black Bean and Chile Posole.

➻ Boil endives for Endive Gratin, then drain, and set aside to cool.

➻ Slice leeks for Black Bean and Chile Posole; chop vegetables for Samosa Stuffed Peppers.

Sprint 3

45 minutes

➻ Prepare white sauce, assemble, and bake Endive Gratin.

➻ Make filling for and assemble Samosa Stuffed Peppers.

➻ Start Black Bean and Chile Posole.

Sprint 4

30 minutes

➻ Finish baking Endive Gratin.

➻ Simmer Black Bean and Chile Posole.

➻ Assemble and bake Crispy Tofu Fingers.

➻ Pack up, clean up, and get ready to relax!

Two To Get Ready…

Want to plan your own Buddy System cooking session? Here’s how:

1. CHOOSE four or five easy dishes that keep well. Vary selections so you’re not making all stews or all casseroles.

2. SHOP Create a master grocery list, then decide who shops for what (and who’s picking up coffee). Save receipts so you can divide costs equally.

3. GEAR UP Aim to have two each of the basic tools: cutting boards, chef’s knives, paring knives, skillets, storage containers, etc. Check recipes for special equipment you’ll need, such as a food processor, a stockpot, or a specific-size baking dish.

4. WORK SMART Break down the major steps of your recipes, following the format in “Divide and Conquer” (above). Use the long cooking times in one recipe to prep ingredients for another. Consolidate steps for recipes, such as boiling water for both the Endive Gratin and the Black Bean and Chile Posole. Optimize oven time (and save energy) by having foods ready to bake one after the other.