Cook Once, Eat All Week–Round 2

When I sat down to meal plan this week, I realized it was going to be one of those weeks where Matt and I wouldn’t cross paths for dinner one single time night this week between our work schedules.  We’re also about to be traveling out of a town a bunch over the next couple weekends and I didn’t really want to fall back on doing a lot of pick up or out to eat this week, so I decided to fall back on the ol’ cook-once-eat-all-week plan.  I’ve only done it one other time, despite the fact that when I first switched to working 4-10 hour days I swore it was going to be my weekly ritual.  I actually quite like doing it – it really only takes about half a day to do and then you’re set for the whole week, but it seems to require a lot of prep and mental gearing myself up to do it so I just had returned to it again.

Here’s the recipes from the first time around I did – they are very chicken-centric but they worked out well as far as using a lot of the same ingredients together.  This time I was lazier – I didn’t want to brainstorm 5 overlapping recipes so I just did a google search to see who had already done this I could just copy.  There were so many options out there – not recreating the wheel was DEFINITELY the way to go and makes more inclined to continue doing this.

I ended up using a link from Self Magazine that I’m pretty sure I either pinned or physically tore out of the magazine once upon a time because the recipes looked really familiar.  Here’s the link to the recipes – I won’t retype them here but I’ll just add a few pointers from my experience today in case you {or future me} wants to recreate this.

Here’s what the meal plan includes {and note how little my food actually looks like the photos from the recipes.  Ha.)

Adobo Chipotle Mini Meatloaves – to be served w/ a side green salad or quick bag of steamer veggies

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Spicy Thai Soup with Lime Shrimp

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Cheesy Beans & Shrimp Enchiladas

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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie (Definitely looks nothing like the photo…in fact, I really hope this one tastes better than it looks.)

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Vegetable & Chickpea Ragout w/ Penne*

*I purposefully made this one more saucy because I knew Matt would rather have a pasta-sauce type dish than a dish that looked more like pasta and veggies.  I didn’t combine them either b/c I didn’t know at one point during the week would eat them, but I did cook the noodles ahead of time.

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I can’t speak to how anything tastes yet except the shrimp soup which was yummy.  My fingers are crossed that the rest turned out as good!  But either way, it beats Lean Cuisines or pick up.

Some notes from my prep:

Start with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher.  Get everything out on the counter to start with, including the bowls you’ll need and dishes you’ll put the final dish in.  Clean as you go.  I cannot highlight that step strongly enough!

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I know it’s not green but I print the recipes out before hand – it’s just easier for me to have physical pieces of paper when my hands get messy instead of using my iPad to look at the recipes.  I also read through each of them before I started cooking so I had an idea in my mind what I was going to be doing at each step.

I love listening to a book on tape when I’ve got a long task to do like any housework or long cooking prep.  I’m listening to Steve Job’s biography which could seriously last me through cooking about 6 weeks worth of dishes.  Listening seems to make the time go faster and tasks feel less chore-like.  (Oh and the dog treat was to keep Buddy out of my way while I cooked.  It only lasted for about 5 minutes.)

(And in case it’s not obvious, that is water in my wine glass.)

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The nice thing about these recipes were that it told you the groceries you needed and the order you would prep things in.  When I did this the last time I was using my own recipes, so a pre-cooking step was (obviously) to write down all your groceries ahead of time and make sure you have everything before you begin but also to write down the order you are going to cook things in.  There are lots of times when a sauce is simmering or a dish is the oven that you can start it on the next dish.

These dishes also had directions for how to freeze if you weren’t going to use right away.  I just cooked them all and put them in the fridge, because Matt’s more likely to microwave something than put it in the oven when he gets off a shift at midnight.  (Understandably so.)

The whole thing from start to finish only took me three hours.  Really!  And because I forced myself to stick to the clean-as-you-go rule, it was three hours from start to really and truly finished.  This is what my kitchen looked like when the last timer went off.

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Hurrah!  And now we have meals for the week.  I’ll try to remember to update as we taste test just in case something doesn’t make the cut – but considering these were published in a magazine, I’m guessing if anything goes wrong it’s operator error.

I must admit though – even though it only took half the morning, it’s still a tiring process.  Even my assistant was wiped out!

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