Once a Week Cooking

Ever since I started my new job back in January, my free time has been increasingly limited and I've been quite exhausted after work. For the first few weeks it was tortuous to come home and have to get something together for dinner and more often than I care to admit I just gave up and we either ate out or dinner consisted of milk and cereal. One week got so bad that cereal was even my go to lunch option. Not healthy. Not at all.

To do something about this I decided to try cooking a weeks worth of lunches and dinners over the weekend when I had much more free time and energy. I started slow only doing 2 recipes at a time on Sunday but now I can easily make 4-5 meals plus a tasty treat.

In all I spend about 4-5 hours cooking but it has varied based on what I'm cooking. There are really easy ways to shorten that time too like having one recipe use the crock pot and having another be a stove top only recipe.

Another benefit is that all of the prep work is consolidated. Instead of getting everything ready to chop vegetables each day, I just get it out once chop everything and then I only wash it once too.

A few tips I've picked up on as I've done this the last few weeks:

  • Read all of your recipes before starting and get a feel for what order to work in.
  • Start by getting out all of your dry ingredients so you don't keep going back to the same cabinets half a dozen times.
  • Rinse off utensils and cookware after using so food doesn't dry on
  • Have some fun music or a podcast going!

Food for the week.

Here's a brief example of what and how I cooked a few weekends ago.  I made 4 dishes: egg salad, And Noodles, Stuffed Shells, and Tacos.

I started by cooking pasta and quick soaking beans. While that was on the stove I mixed up the sauce for And Noodles and preheated the oven. After the noodles were done they went into the sauce and then into the oven.

Using the same pasta pot I started cooking the shells. I also started the eggs to hard boil. Then I got the cheese filling ready for the shells. By the time the shells were stuffed and ready to go in the oven, it was time to take out the And Noodles so I only had to preheat the oven once instead of twice. I chopped up the vegetables for the tacos and egg salad while the beans finished cooking and then used the pot from boiling eggs to make some brown rice for the tacos.

At this point all that was left was letting the food cool before I packed it into individually sized portions in tupperware. Since I'd ben rinsing dishes off as I went and the dishwasher was empty all I had to do was load it and the kitchen was clean.

It's gotten a lot easier for me over the last few weeks as I've perfected my routines and it also helps if you do all of the grocery shopping a day or two prior since Sundays at the grocery store are always crowded.