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Cook on Sunday - eat all week?

Ok, so since I love cooking and we love good food, I noticed that I am cooking dinners at least 4 times during the week days and on the weekend. Since I also work full time and my commute is nearly an hour each way, that does not leave me with a whole lot of personal time after I cook dinners, clean up the kitchen, feed and walk the pets, etc.

So, I was looking into cooking on Sunday so it lasts at least till Wednesday. Sounds easy in theory, however, in reality I found that I am struggling with what to make and spent like 2 hours yesterday trying to come up with next week menu that won’t take all my evenings.

We are trying to eat very little gluten, so breads, muffins, pastas, etc. are a no go. Also, I do not like to freeze cooked meals – they never taste the same to me after defrosting.

I do roast a chicken on Sunday and use dark meat for lunches with a side of rice or quinoa and white meat for chicken salad (also lunches usually). I also marinate some beef on Sunday to be grilled on Tuesday. And make a large pot of some hearty soup, like borsth or beef barley, that lasts us through the week. However, I am getting really tired of chicken, soup, marinated beef routine…

What do you guys cook on Sundays that lasts you most of the week? Can you share your weekly menus? What prep work you do (chop up onions, carrots, etc) and where you use these ingredients later and finally – how do you stay organized and on track and not go out to eat?
Looking forward to your suggestions!

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  1. veg sides keep well make ahead and store in sealed container in fridge - it does not take long to grill a steak or broil piece of fish - toss a salad and there you have a meal - make your sides ahead - chop your veg ahead and choose a quick cooking protein

    meatloaf (or turkey loaf) can be repurposed cold in sandwiches (or lettuce wraps) and finally cubed as meat balls in a quick sauce (tomato, cream whatever) over rice or quinoa if you don't do pasta - nice thing about loaf is you can do any flavor way and then play with it - can be an mid eastern flavor or a curry or BBQ

    also consider the slow cooker - it is my best friend when I am busy and still want to eat a real homey meal - short prep at night after dinner - dump in crock in AM and home to a stew or braised roast

    14 Replies
    1. re: JTPhilly

      Thank you! I do have a slow cooker and use it sometimes. BUT, i am somewhat hesitant to leave it on when no one is home and for some reason, my slow cooker meals never taste that great :(

      What vegetables do you usually chop? I always have chopped, washed lettuce / arugula, but do you chop anything else?

      1. re: Allenkii

        for the slow cooker what works for me- brown and deglaze on the stove first, choose flavorful proteins - fatty beef or pork that really want to slow cook - increase your seasonings - don't include veg that gets mushy do include onion/garlic whole and remove to boost flavor- use broth/stock not water, don't try to make it do anything it is not made to do - pot roasts, pulled pork, stews, chili, beans, dal it is good at. I leave mine on, it turns to low after the set time and then I come home to a house that smells great. all I have to do is make rice add some veg and have a meal

        for prepping ahead - I don't always because I am not so organized but things like carrots can be cleaned/peeled and prepared - beets can be cooked/peeled sliced and keep. you can prep most of your veg except cucumber or tomatoes, yuck those need to be sliced on serving.

        1. re: JTPhilly

          Do you think I can brown, season and put meat in slow cooker and keep it the fridge for 3 days or so BEFORE cooking? So, brown beef roast, season, throw onions, root veggies etc on Sunday night and on Wednesday morning add some liquid and put in slow cooker? Do you think that will be safe?
          You are right – cucumbers and tomatoes need to be cut right before eating, but even carrots – I thought they will turn dark if I peel and chop ahead of time? So far, I can only imagine preparing lettuce and maybe celery ahead of time, oh and herbs

          1. re: Allenkii

            that scares me a little - with the temp changes and still raw meat - think I would in that case do the whole braise ahead of time and then just heat it up when you want to eat it - most braised meat dishes reheat well.

            1. re: JTPhilly

              Yes, that's what I thought too. I sometimes prepare Sunday night for Monday morning slow cooker but never tried to do it several days in advance...I know stews and slow cooked dishes reheat well, but then once again, I cook Sunday and by Wednesday night I need to cook again :( I was looking for ideas of what I can prep on Sunday to be cooked on Wednesday

              1. re: Allenkii

                most meats wont sit without changing that long. stir fry mix to cook with eggs? fish in freezer defrosted that day?

            2. re: Allenkii

              why would you prepare lettuce ahead of time? a chop or two, and a couple of rinses in the shower spinner takes 2 minutes, and freshly rinsed greens taste better to me and need little dressing more then a bit of rice wine or balsamic vinegar or lemon, and a fresh crack of salt and pepper. There's really no reason for all that oil in most dressings. (although I love some oil or fat laden dressings now and then)

              1. re: Bellachefa

                I find if I wash, chop and dry lettuce in the spinner it keeps wonderfully for 5 days or so. I do it to make my week night meals preps shorter. So, for example, now it takes me only 2 minutes to make salad (add tomatoes, cucumber, onion and dressing) instead of 10. I can use 8 minutes for a shower or to unload a dishwasher. I really do not have lots of free time once I get home and I really want to have some time to read a book :)

                1. re: Allenkii

                  I agree on pre-washing the lettuce. I think it keeps beautifully washed and layered in zip locks with a paper towel or two.
                  Sometimes lugging out the salad spinner midweek is enough fore to say eff the salad!
                  -I have an 8 month old so I'm irrational at times, admittedly. Seriously though, ten minutes is ten minutes. I'm watching this thread for tips to make my week nights less stressed.

                  1. re: rabaja

                    I buy Romaine lettuce hearts and wash and chop ahead of time. It keeps well.

                2. re: Bellachefa

                  you are absolutely right... but sometimes when I am throwing together dinner after a long day at work - and need to walk dogs, feed cat, get lunch together, respond to some emails, pay a few bills etc I look at that head of lettuce and those carrots and peppers and think "UGH, I really *should* make a salad" if it is all prepped - like a salad bar - and I can just assemble - it is more likely salad is going to be part of dinner and not just wilting in the fridge - is it the best way?- no, but its one less dirty cutting board - one less dirty knife and one less salad spinner taking up space on my drain board. Sometimes the accumulation of small tasks adds up. Prep once and several salads can save much time especially if you are only cooking for 2

                  1. re: JTPhilly

                    Yes, exactly! I think this weekend I will also pre-wash my cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. Small tasks do add up and they add up quickly! So do unhealthy take outs and lunches if I don't feel like cooking...We only eat "healthy" take-outs - sushi, soups, etc, but they are still not the best ingredients and they are pricy as well... So, I am trying to get more organized. I find menu planning is a 1st step, but things like pre washing, pre cutting etc will be a huge help as well!

            3. re: Allenkii

              I noticed the other day that Trader Joe was selling bags of chopped Brussels sprouts, which I had never seen before. Small enough to stir-fry. Intriguing. Maybe mix them with TJ's frozen little baby Pearl Onions.

              1. re: Querencia

                I love those shredded brussel sprouts!! I've used them just sauteed, added to soups, and for this amazing salad- just make sure to really massage the dressing into the kale and shredded sprouts since the recipe doesn't say so:

                That salad is better the next day and keeps great for several!

          2. also.. while eliminating pasta removes many quick dinner options - adding Asian noodles like Rice or Udon brings a whole new array of fast/tasty/healthful dishes into play if you did some prep ahead will go even faster

            1. Japanese curry or stew can last 3 days and can be used with whatever grain or gluten free noodle you want. Nabe lasts us at least two dinners and can add eggs and gluten free noodles to change it up the second day

              1 Reply
              1. re: TeRReT

                I had Japanese curry for dinner yesterday and for lunch today with coconut rice :)

              2. I rarely cook during week nights and mainly "assemble".

                Like you I prepare components or dishes that last a couple of meals. Roast vegetables, curries, lentils or other grains that can be combined with other components for sides or mains.

                I stock proteins that are quick to prepare: fish, seafood (defrost in AM), tofu, eggs, thin cuts of meat.

                I use techniques that don't take a lot of time: stir fry; blanching (greens), steam fish and vegetables in microwave.

                6 Replies
                1. re: jadec

                  Lentils is something I cook quite often on a weekend and they last 2-3 days after until we get sick of them :)

                  Do you ever chop celery, onions, carrots on the weekend? Do they last ok?

                  What kind of vegetables do you roast? I can only think of potatoes, squashes, beats...anything else i can roast ahead of time?

                  I also try and stock protein that's fast to prepare, but I cannot lie - I get tired of same thing, even if that same thing is a steak....I am trying to have menus where I do not repeat a meal more than once in 3-4 weeks...

                  1. re: Allenkii

                    Roast: turnips, cassava, plantain, sweet potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, tomato, Brussels sprouts, onions, shallots.

                    I recommend prepping the veg ahead of time and then doing a version of the ATK (or CC?) one-pan chicken dinner. They used a cut-up chicken, sans wings. I prefer all thighs but the main thing is the pieces need to be the same size. Cut carrots and potatoes into roughly 1-1.5" chunks. Halve Brussels sprouts if they are large. Ditto shallots (or cut small onions into wedges). Mix them gently with oil, S&P, your choice of dry herbs/spices. You can mix the chicken with the same, or brush the skin with melted butter and season on top. Arrange everything on a sheet pan - if using Brussels sprouts and chicken breasts, put those at the center of the pan to shield them from the most intense heat. Skin side up for the chicken. Put the dark meat chicken and the firmest vegetables toward the edges of the pan. 450F for 40-45 minutes. No basting, no turning. Dinner's ready - and it's triffic! I always manage to go overboard on the veg and having to do a second pan but roast veg are great for later in the week. I've done the same thing with pork roast, including firm apples, quartered.

                    You can make a large amount of rice that will be good for at least 4 days in the fridge, and use it for stir-frying.

                    You say you don't like reheated frozen meals. I suspect you're freezing the wrong things. Reheated frozen meat loaf, chili, soups, and stews (without potato - cook those fresh) are indistinguishable from just made. Granted, you don't want these month in, month out, but they are good default frozen meals.

                    1. re: Allenkii

                      It's only 2 of us, but I cook a whole pound of lentils or beans at once. When we get tired of it, after a couple of days, into a Ziplock freezer bag they go & get frozen for a heat 'n eat meal somewhere down the road. Really saves on time, and gives us a decent meal when those Desperation Times hit, aka, "what on earth can we eat tonight?"

                      Same for rice--cook lots more than you need, then portion out bags to freeze for zapping later on.

                      1. re: pine time

                        i'm lucky that there is a Trader Joe's near me and they sell pre-prepared frozen rice.
                        you just pour out exactly the amount you need and nuke it.
                        it always comes out perfectly, and there is NO waste whatsoever.
                        they sell a few varieties of this stuff: brown organic, jasmine, and, i believe some sort of spanish version.
                        the brown rice has become a staple in my home.

                      2. re: Allenkii

                        Beets, turnips, celeriac, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, onions, celery, leeks.

                        1. re: Allenkii

                          Carrots and celery keep pretty well when submerged in water. - Quite often I will put a few "prepared sticks" of each in a glass of water in the fridge - good for both snacking and having ready for my next salad.
                          I try to avoid doing onions ahead of time.

                      3. I can absolutely relate to your commute/life's demands! I tend to cook for two nights at a time so that I don't get sick of the main ingredient.

                        I don't do a chicken every week; when I do, I use it as you suggest (as roast chicken, as chicken salad, to make stock for future use etc).

                        Sometimes I'll cook up a big batch of ground beef and use it in a couple of different ways--a shepherd's pie, in burritos, etc

                        I will also cook and clean a bunch of shrimp. I'll use shrimp one night over wilted greens for a shrimp salad, and the next night in a stirfry.

                        If I do a London broil, I'll use leftovers on a steak salad.

                        I'm a big fan of eggs for supper; any leftover veggies/meat bits get thrown into omelets/frittata.

                        On Sunday, I always make at least 6-8 hardboiled eggs for grab-n-go.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: pinehurst

                          My menu for next week (which only took me like 2 hours to come up with yesterday lol) includes: 10 hardboiled eggs (boil on Sunday to use for breakfasts, in salads and as a snack), Shepard pie (large one – make on Sunday so it lasts to Monday night as well), hearty filling soup, hummus all to be made on Sunday. It’s a good idea though to cook up more ground beef and use it in something else. Thank you
                          When you cook shrimp – do you not reheat it after? I have never left cooked shrimps for next day

                          1. re: Allenkii

                            Hi Allenkii! About the shrimp-- I treat it like meat. I'll cook a couple of pounds, say...and if it's winter, I'll use some that night warm over a wilted salad, and the next night in a stirfry or over spaghetti squash. But if it's summer, the next night I'll use it cold, in homemade cocktail sauce, or chopped into a shrimp salad. No worries about cooked shrimps the next day.

                            1. re: pinehurst

                              Thank you - I will have to try that. So far, all leftover shrimps made my dog VERY happy ;) He will be sad. lol. Usually, I buy jumbo shrimps and my husband stir fries them with butter and garlic or some jalapeno peppers and serves over rice and salad. But I will definitely try using shrimps like you do. OH! One of my favorite shrimp recipes for summer is saviche :)

                              1. re: Allenkii

                                I would definitely not cook the shrimp ahead of time. If you've cooked them you know they take no time to cook. Have them cleaned and ready to cook in whatever you want - simple.

                                1. re: Jeanne

                                  Most weeks I have some leftover shrimp in the fridge...I live at the beach...it is a great light summer supper. Or a grab a snack. Tonight after pool time we had pimento cheese and crackers, some melon and leftover steamed shrimp!

                            2. re: Allenkii

                              imho, shrimp does not do well as a re-heated ingredient:
                              the texture changes, the smell changes.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                I've never had a problem reheating if the original critters were fresh, raw shrimp (frozen is another story)...I'll give credit to the fish market!

                                About shrimp---just found this thread on what to do with cooked shrimp leftovers.

                          2. I cook up pots of legumes and grains on the weekends and make different dishes with them throughout the week, salads included.
                            I dislike slow cookers but often roast or braise meat to use in different dishes during the week: pulled pork, chicken enchiladas ( can use corn tortillas).
                            Also make an egg based meal once a week, like a frittata or crust less quiche.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: magiesmom

                              Can you please tell me more about what legumes and grains you cook and what dishes you make with them after?

                              1. re: Allenkii

                                If you like Indian food, dal is very easy to make mid-week and serve with rice for a nice vegetarian meal.

                                You could marinate tofu on Sun and grill it on Wed. Serve with fried rice or rice needles. Pad Thai is very quick to put together particularly is you make the sauce ahead of time - just learnt that last night in a cooking class :)

                                1. re: herby

                                  I have never made any indian dishes - for some reason they scare me. Must be all the exotic spices

                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                    Dal is very easy and you probably have most spices at home. Google and you get a million of recipes.

                                    Take 600 Curries out of the library - great book and very doable recipes. It was COTM last year I think. Another great book to try for Indian and other "exotic" flavours is Mighty Spice - simple and flavourful, almost authentic dishes.

                                    1. re: herby

                                      If you have a Sprouts (or similar) store nearby, you can also buy just the amount of "exotic" spices you need--cheaper, and if you find you don't like something, not much money lost. Once you find you do like Indian cooking, you can't beat the prices on spices at your Indian grocers.

                                      1. re: herby

                                        660 Curries is a great recommendation.

                                        That was a particularly fun COTM since the author participated in the discussion threads. Also anything by Madhur Jaffrey. If you are, as you say, intimidated by the number of ingredients, or just unusual ingredients, in Indian recipes, I'd recommend:
                                        which is designed to simplify Indian cooking for beginners.

                                      2. re: Allenkii

                                        This cashew coconut milk curry is delicious, i usually serve with rice and sometimes swap in chickpeas if i don't have tofu:

                                    2. re: Allenkii

                                      I cook all kinds of rice , make fried rice with it and a protein. Don't like quinoa, but many do and it is gluten free and can be treated like rice, used in a soup. Polenta can be fried in slices and served with a braised protein on top. I make any kind of beans there are; I especially like pintos served over cornbread with a spicy sauce or made into a quick stew with sausages. Layer beans and rice and veggies in a casserole, warm in oven or zap.
                                      I like bulgur best but it has gluten. I serve it with a stew made from meat or root veggies or both.

                                  2. Someone should be helping clean up, after you cook, while they are feeding and walking the pets.

                                    If I know I will have a protein leftover, I will often cook some brown rice for a stir fry. I will also pre chop garlic and ginger and onion and protein. A few minutes to prep more veggies and a one pot stir fry in under 15 minutes.

                                    Also a fan of big salads with leftover london broil or chicken. I find spachcocking the chicken makes leftovers easier to handle for different preps.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                      How long do you fins pre chopped onions, garlic and ginger lasts in air tight containers in the fridge?

                                      Its only me and my husband, who works 12 hour shifts, so often he is not home to help :( He does the cleaning of the house and other chores, so cooking and kitchen cleanless is on me...plus I am a clean freak - my kitchen MUST be clean before I start cooking and clean again before I go to bed...

                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                        Get the Ziploc Vacuum seal bags, and the onions will last for some time, as do many other vegetables that have been chopped (red bell pepper, etc.)

                                        I freeze grated ginger in 1/2 cup increments, and then take it out, defrost, and keep it in a jar of dry sherry in the fridge. That way, it's always available.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Great! Thank you! This weekend I will make my hubby chop lots of onions for me for a week :)

                                          1. re: Allenkii

                                            Prepping and cooking onions is the most time-consuming part of most of the meals I cook (not counting hands-off oven time). Chopped/sliced onions cook faster from frozen than freshly-prepped. This is because freezing breaks cell walls so once the onions hit the pan, they start drying immediately. There is no difference in flavor or in final cooked texture. Buy a large bag of onions, chill or soak in cold water so you won't cry when you cut them, and freeze in baggies. Press/suck as much air out as possible before freezing, to optimize shelf space and cut down on ice crystals.

                                            Better yet, sweat and/or saute and/or caramelize amounts of onion before freezing. You can just put it all in one large pan and take some out at intervals. Because of the fat involved in the cooking, you'll be able to easily pry/break off as much frozen cooked onion as you need for cooking your dinner. Rule of thumb is that one pound of onion cooks down into one cup of caramelized onion, so doing this does not monopolize freezer space. But if you are short on freezer room, you can keep a container of sauteed onion in your fridge longer than you can raw cut onion.

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              I am not short on freezer space at all, but I am skeptical of freezing things. First, I often forget and they stay there for ever and next, i find cooked frozen never tastes the same to me... But I will chop up bunch of onions so they are ready for a frying pan :)

                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                Well, if you refuse to use freezing, you'll either have to get the week shortened, or cook more often. You can always heat what you made on Sunday for Monday dinner, then afteerward, cook Tuesday's dinner, leapfrogging through the week.

                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                  Keep an Excel spreadsheet on the side of your fridge that notes the frozen meals or packaged ingredients that you want to use for later meals. I bunch together "like" ingredients, such as:

                                                  (6) b/s chicken breasts
                                                  (2) pks. of 2 chicken thighs

                                                  2 (1 lb.) ground beef
                                                  6 hamburgers
                                                  2 (1 lb) stewing beef

                                                  2 (half) pork tenderloins
                                                  3 boneless pork chops

                                                  3 (2 Tbsp.) roasted garlic
                                                  1 (2 Tbsp) chopped chives
                                                  4 (1/2 cup) chopped onions
                                                  2 (1/2 cup) roasted red peppers, chopped

                                                  Then, cross 'em off, or add to the list in your own handwriting until it gets too messy; then clean up the list, print it out and start all over. I have a list that details what's in my downstairs chest freezer, and a smaller one that of the bits and bobs that I keep in my fridge/freezer in my kitchen.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I use this exact same strategy, and it's fantastic. Helps me save time and money, as well as to keep from "losing" things.

                                                    Allenki, I agree with many others here that freezing some things, even if just selectively, will make your life considerably easier. I think everyone agrees that some things freeze better than others. :)

                                                    When I am cooking something that I know will freeze well, like chili, spaghetti sauce, dirty rice, etc., I intentionally cook 2-3x as much as will be consumed immediately to freeze the rest. I'll freeze in a variety of sizes from single serve (lunches) up to a large family size.

                                                    Then I try to look for ways to make those frozen portions into other meals. Chili might be served with cornbread, made into tamale pie, used in taco salad, top some nachos or a baked potato, etc. Spaghetti sauce might top simple pasta, get baked over a chicken breast, I chop up cooked chicken, and use it to top salads, as quesadilla filling, part of a teriyaki bowl, etc.

                                                    Being able to "shop" my freezer with these pre-made components makes life much easier. :)

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      Yes, this is a great way to keep track. by easily showing me what proteins are available and on hand i can tailor my cooking plans accordingly. Otherwise, i find that I keep shopping and adding to the freezer without using things that go in.

                                                    2. re: Allenkii

                                                      I am not a big fan of frozen meals either but some thing freeze beautifully and if they also take a long time to make, I might never bother if I can't make lots and freeze. My freezer (I only have two drawers) is always full because I store all kinds of things there - nuts, stocks, soups, seafood, etc. Right now I have some duxelles, caramelized onions, black beans and farro that are really handy to have.

                                                      I used to forget what is in the freezer too. Then I made a spreadsheet divided into categories and have been using my freezer very productively ever since. I keep my inventory on the fridge wall and update as I take things out and put things in. When it becomes too messy, I make changes to the e-file and print fresh copy.

                                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                                        <<cooked frozen never tastes the same to me>>
                                                        you're completely right on that.

                                                2. re: Allenkii

                                                  I think it really comes down to your refrigerator. When our old fridge finally died and I bought a huge Samsung french door dream fridge, I was amazed at how long vegetables and fruit stayed fresh. I only use fresh garlic, ginger and onions and find they can stay fresh in small tupperware containers for many days. Never a fan of prepared garlic, it is nice to have on hand without dealing with the skins and breaking down.

                                                  And really the biggest time saver is having a trash bowl behind your cutting board to discard pieces of protein and veggies. I cut peppers in half and discard the seeds first use, and they are good to go with a few seconds of chop, in only the proportion I need. A stalk of celery, a carrot - only take a few seconds.

                                              2. I like to roast a pan of vegetables and use them during the week as sides or as part of a salad (rice, barley, quinoa) or filling for a sandwich with some cheese (feta, goat). Frozen seafood (shrimp, scallops) is great to have as it defrosts in warm salty water very fast and cooks even faster. Any pre-cooked grain is good to have on hand to use as side or salad or fried with protein and veggies.

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: herby

                                                  Herby, what do you normally roast? All I can think of are potatoes, beats, squashes...what else?

                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                    sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, rutabaga,fennel, carrots, cauliflower parsnips, celery, celery root, onions. . .

                                                      1. re: Bellachefa

                                                        Also, roasted broccoli (topped with parm - yumm!) and brussel sprouts are so quick and easy.

                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                          when you roast the carrots, may i suggest they be served with a yogurt/cumin sauce?
                                                          everyone i know loves this combination.

                                                            1. re: Allenkii

                                                              This is a wonderful cumin yogurt sauce- i use water instead of orange juice since i don't want the carrots too sweet:

                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                heat a tiny bit of oil in a skillet, add cumin and saute cumin for less than a minute until the color changes slightly and the cumin fragrance fills the room.
                                                                add the cooked cumin oil to some yogurt (i prefer low fat or whole milk yogurt) and stir.
                                                                you now have your sauce.
                                                                (taste and if you like you can add some salt or pepper, but i never do.)

                                                          1. re: Allenkii

                                                            I roast all kinds and try to change from week to week. This week is was portabellos, red pepper, asparagus and japanese eggplant (long and skinny). I toss them on the sheet pan with olive oil, salt and this time with italian seasoning mix. I also love roasting roots - carrots, parsnip, beets (peeled, chunked and separated from other veggies). Roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts are very tasy too but not a big fan of roasted broccoli for some reason. I roast them at 450F and pull them out as they become tender which is a bit diffrent for each veg.

                                                            1. re: herby

                                                              roasted broccoli is great but an eat at that meal thing. I blanch them, and toss them with a bit of olive oil, thinnly sliced garlic lemon juice and zest and finish with a light sprinkle of panko and parm - but ti is not a make ahead prep.

                                                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                To my taste, blanched broccoli quickly fried with garlic, lemon, flaky salt and olive oil is perfect:) I sometimes just chop a few very thin slices of lemon and use that instead of juice/zest or use preseved lemon and chili flakes for a completely different taste profile.

                                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                                    That is another thing I do - blanch and shock veggies. Usually cauliflower, broccoli, green beans. They keep 3-4 days in the fridge wrapped in paper towel inside a closed container. Very easy to re-heat and add flavour - garlic/almonds to the beans for example. You take them in any direction as you re-heat - asian with fish sauce and ginger, indian with coconut mik and curry, italian with quick tomato sause - you get the picture.

                                                                  2. re: herby

                                                                    Oh I love the idea of broc with preserved lemon and chili flakes!

                                                          2. When berries are affordable, I often wash, prep the strawberries and let the assorted fruit air dry in the colander and then add a few paper towels to the bottom of the container. great for bfast and also great in salads, and later in the week if there are some left toss them in the freezer for smoothies. I also pre seed pomegranate to use in salads.

                                                            1. One strategy you can use is to make the freezer your friend. I do this a lot as the late summer harvest really gets going. Roast several winter squash, scoop out, mash, season and freeze in portions that will feed your family. Similar with green beans and greens (kale, chard), just blanch first, shock in ice water, portion, freeze. Corn I like to take of the cob then spread kernels on wax paper lined cookie sheet to freeze individual kernels; then portion and freeze. Tomatoes--sauce, roasted, whole-all freeze well. It really helps with my meal planning as I see what's in the freezer and make menus around it. Yes, you could just buy frozen organic vegetables but these come for "free".

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: gourmanda

                                                                It's the only way I was able to manage my third of a full box of CSA veg this past summer - I've still got chopped kale in my freezer in Ziploc vacuum seal bags to be added to soup as I want.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Vacuum sealing is wonderful! I think we've gone thru the kale and chard, sadly...but they made great quiches!

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    What is the best way to freeze greens?

                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                      melpy, I didn't wash the kale. I chopped it up, tucked several cups worth into the small quart vacuum bags, and sucked out the air. Toss it into the freezer that way. I'll wash it well in a strainer when I want to use it. Since I'll be using it in soup, any degradation of the kale is negligible.

                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                        I wash, take out the stem, blanch for 3 minutes (not necessary if you will be using for soup, but for quiche I think it is helpful), dry well in the salad spinner. Then I chop and vacuum pack in about 10 oz portions.

                                                                  2. I think you have some apprehension about these things but the issues really depend on your methodology and what you are prepping/freezing. I prep and freeze stuff all the time, with minimal problems. I work full time and have 2 kids and a husband, so I try and do as much as I can to make my evenings more efficient.

                                                                    A) You can prep most foods ahead of time. I chop onions, garlic, ginger, green onions, asparagus, etc the night before if I know I'm going to be home late the next day. You can even chop tomatoes and keep them -- just deseed them. I've never heard that you can't prechop cucumbers and carrots -- I do it all the time. I have a container that I fill up with carrot and celery sticks, sliced cucumbers and grape tomatoes. We can easily grab some veggies to munch on, or I've got the toppings for a fast salad (just need to wash the lettuces). I've never prepped lettuce ahead of time -- I think it wilts a bit if it sits more than a day after washing.

                                                                    B) There are freezer friendly foods, and that are not so much. I'm not a fan of frozen potatoes -- I don't freeze dishes with potatoes in them because I think they get mushy. I do freeze things like chili, spaghetti sauce, chicken curry, chicken/goat biryani, roasted/chopped Hatch chiles, dals, rajma, etc. I don't have time to cook Indian foods during the week because they take too long (we are Indian), so I either make them on the weekend, or I double my quantities and freeze the extra. Dals freeze really well -- you can't tell they've been frozen. I would make sure your freezer is clean and doesn't have that freezer smell to it -- that can trasnfer to your foods, altering the taste. Keep a box of baking soda in your freeze to absorb odors.

                                                                    C) You can roast/grill many veggies and keep them in the fridge. I prefer to grill them. We like grilled corn, asparagus, potatoes (sliced), onion slices, and zucchini. We aren't fans of eggplant, but you could grill that as well. Use the grilled veggies as-is, or add them to scrambled eggs, soups, fritattas, etc. For roasting, we like roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, broccoli and cauliflower. Bake whole potatoes to eat as baked potatoes, then use a couple to make mashed potatoes another day.

                                                                    I wouldn't prep meat 3 days in advance and keep it in the fridge. Say you wanted to make beef stew in your slow cooker. I don't make it often (DH is not a fan), but when I make it, I brown the meat the night before and put it in the fridge in a ziplock. I also prep and cut my veggies (carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms) and put those in the fridge too. If I'm adding potatoes, I cube them into big cubes and put them in a container of water in the fridge so they don't brown. In the morning, I dump everything in the slow cooker with my liquids and spices and turn it on. Takes me just a few minutes.

                                                                    Some things you could make in advance and eat for a couple days are:
                                                                    Cooked ground beef/turkey: cook a batch without seasoning and season each day as needed. Add taco seasoning to make tacos/burritos, add some to spaghetti sauce, etc. Ground cooked meat also freezes well.
                                                                    Grilled chicken -- eat as is one day, chop some for salads, chop some to make a casserole/pasta
                                                                    Steak: Grill and eat, slice leftovers for topping a salad

                                                                    1. You have gotten some great ideas. Thanks for this topic.
                                                                      Last weekend I made a batch of tuna salad and a tri-tip. Finished the tuna salad today (Thursday) and still have some tri-tip left.
                                                                      I roasted a turkey breast last night, and I cook up a big pot of veggies (right now it is green beans w/garlic) and keep in the fridge.
                                                                      I supplement with cheese, fruit, cottage cheese, and Progresso canned soups, etc. wery seldom pasta, rice, potatoes, grains, or beans.

                                                                      I also make meat loaf (two at a time ~~ one turkey/spinach; and one beef/pork) they freeze beautifully and are easy to make into many quick simple meals.

                                                                      I usually cook a different soup every week, pretty much year round.

                                                                      I mostly assemble during the week, not really "cook"

                                                                      1. Can you vary your meats for variety? Pulled or roasted pork shoulder might work for you as a Sunday roast to be repurposed. Roasted veg as others have mentioned can last a long time in the fridge -- at least five days. Also cooked sautéed greens. Raw kale salads will last for a couple of days.

                                                                        So for example on Sunday you can roast your pork, veg, sauté greens, make polenta. Eat your pork on Sunday w polenta and greens. On Monday eat leftover polenta, roast veg and top with an egg. On Tuesday have pork and greens tacos. By Wednesday I think you would still have pork and roast veg. You could eat them (no cook option ) or doctor them in various ways.

                                                                        1. IT's not easy to get meals on the table from Monday to Friday. A bowl of rice can go a long way, stir fries etc. and prepped vegetables are great to add. Meat that is cut into small strips is a great convenience when you are in a hurry. On Sundays I usually have mashed potatoes and sweet potato mash and use the leftover for Monday night. Salads can be prepared ahead of time as well.

                                                                          1. I find that cooking ahead works for a few days, but few things are good for an entire week. You mention that you are cooking for "we." Perhaps the easiest solution to your dilemma would be to turn part of that "we" into your sous chef, or dog walker, or dish washer.

                                                                            1. LOVE this thread! and love ALL these tips! I have been trying to pull this off myself. Lots of work but it's worth it. (Especially if it means healthy, no additives, organic and hormone/antibiotic free grass fed meats, etc.) I think it just takes practice to get the swing of it.
                                                                              Last week one item I did was a pork roast. For Sunday, made pulled bbq (of course) but reserved some of it plain in the fridge. On TH I pulled it out and added cumin, chili powder, a little cayenne, garlic powder, etc. and made pulled pork nachos on organic corn chips with black beans, cheese, and salsa. When they came out of the oven, I top them with chopped spinach instead of lettuce and some avocado and sour cream. They were awesome! and soooooo quick!

                                                                              I am going to take notes from ALL these amazing tips and come up with a rotation with variations. I usually just "wing it" but I guess if would be easier if I had a little bit of a plan. Like, week one: Chicken/pot roast/big salad/chop veggies, Week two: Ground beef casserole/Egg dish/ Salad (always a salad)/roasted veggies, etc. I can always adjust if I find something on sale, etc.

                                                                              Thanks so much for the topic and motivation all!!

                                                                              1. There are two of us in my house and I cook ahead when I'm busy. Last night, I made a pot of three bean soup for next week; will be frozen. I prepped some venison ribs (seasoning and partially braised) for use today. I put them on the charcoal grill this afternoon. While they were cooking, I cleaned some chicken leg/thigh quarters to go on once the ribs came off; I cooked the chicken 3/4 of the way through to allow for reheating without drying out later. I also thickly sliced some potatoes, which went on after the chicken came off; also cooked 3/4 of the way to allow for reheating later. I peeled & halved a large onion, a medium carrot and a large stalk of celery which was cut up and all went into a large piece of foil and onto the grill after everything else came off and the coals were very low.

                                                                                So, tonight's dinner was the ribs; sides were a scallion & onion quinoa & corn simmered with a little butter.

                                                                                I poached some rock fish last night for tomorrow; it will be made into fish cakes. The potatoes that was on the grill tonight will go into the oven with some of that onion, some seasonings & a drizzle of olive oil to reheat for about 15 minutes. A garden salad will accompany.

                                                                                Saturday is my no cook day; we usually have sandwiches, take out or we go out to dinner. Not sure which it will be yet, but we have leftover venison ribs in case.

                                                                                That chicken I grilled tonight will be dinner on Sunday. It'll go into the oven with sauce to reheat. The leftover quinoa will get some roasted veggies added to it for a side and I'll come up with another side to round out the meal. I anticipate leftover chicken, but it may be wrapped up and frozen for another time (which is why I cooked more than we normally need at once).

                                                                                The roasted celery/carrot and remaining onion will get a small drizzle of olive oil in the food processor and pureed for mirepoix, which will be used in various sauces/sides/etc. for the week. To answer your question, you can cut onions, celery, carrots, etc. and keep in airtight plastic containers in your fridge to use during the week. I do it often.

                                                                                I'm not sure why you are intimidated about freezing things but as others have said, a lot of things freeze well and are a snap to thaw and heat later. Also, you can partially cook meat and finish it later in the oven or in your slowcooker. Like I did my chicken, you can sear or brown a roast, pork chops, a chicken or whatever and finish it later. Restaurants do it all the time, sometimes finishing it days later. As long as the meat is tightly wrapped & refrigerated, you're okay.

                                                                                1. generally speaking, legume stews keep very well.

                                                                                  that said, most folks who are used to eating a meat-based diet, resist adjusting to a more plant-based diet.

                                                                                  vegetarian (bean) chili served with corn bread.

                                                                                  dal served on rice with greens (tons of variations on this with different types of split peas, lentils, etc.)

                                                                                  chickpea tagine (moroccan)

                                                                                  curried beans/lentils

                                                                                  minestrone soup made WITHOUT any meat lasts longer and tastes better than meat-based minestrone.

                                                                                  white beans and greans

                                                                                  rice with lentils and dates (adas polo).

                                                                                  ratatouille keeps well and can be easily served with ricotta al forno (can be prepared ahead, but also is a breeze to make) and bread. if you don't want to go to the trouble of making the ratatouille, just saute mushrooms until all the liquid is boiled away and served them with the ricotta al forno instead.

                                                                                  very different food than the "comfort food" on which most folks were raised but this kind of food, imho, is much more robust when it comes to pre-preparation than animal-based foods

                                                                                  1. More often than not come fridays i make (assemble) myself a snacky dinner-i'm low on energy, pre-prepped meals and giveashit by then.
                                                                                    I'll make a plate of nuts, dried apricots and grapes/apples, whatever hummus or bean dip is around, some raw veggies and crackers, edamame, olives etc....(i can't have cheese but that's an obvious addition) plus a glass of wine :)

                                                                                    So then you're just cooking 3xs plus one night of leftovers plus the friday night!

                                                                                    1. hi guys,
                                                                                      i want to apologize to you as i am not able to give each response the attention it deserves :( i either broke or fractured my elbow yesterday (they cannot see from x-rays) so typing is very challenging right now. i am reading all the posts - what wonderful suggestions you all have! i cannot wait to use them, but might not be able to for 6 to 8 weeks :(
                                                                                      Please keep on writing more tips and suggestions - i am sure there are more people who appreciate those

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                          haven had a broken ankle and two broken wrists in the past 3 months, my advice is pain medication for the first 3 or 4 days is important - then ditch the pills. Good luck. Due to my injuries, my husband learned some great cooking skills while I tutored him!

                                                                                          1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                            Good Grief. Hope you feel better Bella.

                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                              aww, I'm doing fine, and my husband has been tutored and now has better knife and kitchen skills. He now knows a better way to cut onions, skin and chop garlic and ginger, and spatchcock a chicken!

                                                                                          2. re: Allenkii

                                                                                            Allenkii, so sorry!!! Rest and heal well!

                                                                                            1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                              Oh no! Well keep reading us:) Feel better.

                                                                                              1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                Oy Vey!
                                                                                                Take care of yourself...
                                                                                                Maybe you want to start a new thread?.."meals that can be made with a broken elbow"

                                                                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                  Oh no!!!!
                                                                                                  Be sure to rest and take care of yourself. In the meantime here are a few threads that have some good ideas for one armed cooking. If you don't already own a mini chopper now would be the time to get one.....!



                                                                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                    Wishing you a speedy recovery, take it easy.

                                                                                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                      Feel better, so sorry to hear about your elbow.

                                                                                                    2. I am doing a similar thing for a different reason, cooking for a disabled neighbor who must eat GF---taking her things that last a few days. Since she can't have most pasta, we are using a lot of rice casseroles. Examples: I make a sauce with olive oil, onions, peppers, meat, tomatoes, tomato sauce, put cheese on top, sprinkle with oregano. Or I saute' onions, golden raisins, sliced dried apricots, and curry powder in butter then add pieces of browned chicken (either combo gets mixed with hot cooked rice).

                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                        GF lasagne is very good and freezes well. When i cook for my children I make two - one to eat and another for the freezer. I also make quinoa balls for chicken soup that became more popular than regular matzo balls.

                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                          Hi herby, so the GF pasta is not too repulsive? I have been seeing all types of GF products when I shop. Guess I will some it a whirl with the GF pasta:) 2014 is my year of *living it up* in the culinary realm. New foods...new recipes.

                                                                                                          1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                            It' been eight years since my SIL started GF eating because of health issues and when I visit and cook there it is always GF. Now my little grandson is on a special diet - no gluten for him either. Maybe because i am so used to GF but I find that everything but bread is good. Bread is awful and I still have not learned to bake GF bread - I am sure there are good recipes out there and I need to learn. So, yes, GF pasta is not repulsive at all :)

                                                                                                          2. re: herby

                                                                                                            Would you post your recipe for quinoa balls please, Herby? Sounds great.

                                                                                                            1. re: rabaja

                                                                                                              Sorry it took me awhile, Rabaja - busy weekend. You need to buy quinoa flakes for this recipe and I noticed that these days they are available pretty much everywhere - in a box along with rices, couscous, and such at a grocery store.

                                                                                                              Combine 1C of quinoa flakes with 1/2t xanthan gum. Beat two eggs, 1/4C oil, 1/2t salt and some freshly ground pepper (or not) until combined and add to quinoa. Mix until well combined and refrigerate for 30 min. Make 10-12 balls and cook at a rolling boil for 25 min. I always cook in the chicken stock just as I cook my matzo balls. I find that they are much tastier this way. If people do not know, they think that this are super tasty matzo balls :)

                                                                                                              I would love to have your feedback if you make the balls.

                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                Thank you!
                                                                                                                I've never cooked with xanthan gum before, or even heard of quinoa flakes.
                                                                                                                I will be trying this soon as I'd love a healthier version of a matzoh ball.
                                                                                                                Do you think the XG is key?

                                                                                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                                                                                  I think it is important and keeps the balls together. It is available in health food stores and probably at many other stores. XG is sort of gluten substitute (in its properties) and used in GF baking.

                                                                                                          3. re: Querencia

                                                                                                            for your neighbor, rice kugel (i make mine with brown rice) is easily adapted to be a savory meal.
                                                                                                            i use the frozen precooked brown rice that is sold at Trader Joe's and the whole process is a snap.

                                                                                                          4. The "health bowl" style of eating might work for you (if you google the term you will find ideas and pictures).

                                                                                                            The basic idea is to prep a variety of foods that play well together. When it is time to eat, you assemble your bowl. It's not as structured as a casserole and allows diners to create their own meals according to their appetites.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. I make oven beef stew-meat (cubed chuck roast) dishes quite often in my small / medium roaster with the lid on. These hold well through re-heating and can be served with rice, potato or sweet potato. Plus you get to read for 2 - 3 hours while the oven does the work.

                                                                                                              Variations - A)Oriental - In teriyaki sauce, with diced onions and finely chopped candied ginger in the roaster.
                                                                                                              B)Traditional - with quartered onions, cubed sweet potato or white potato, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, a bay leaf, a few carrots, 12 - 16 oz. frozen green beans (optional - cream of mushroom soup or equivalent).
                                                                                                              C) Moroccan spiced - with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and sweet potato, tomatoes & onions and raisins - converted to oven from this crockpot recipe http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/...
                                                                                                              D) bookmarked but not yet tried - LindaWhit's mom's lemon beef - I have a note she posted it Jan 27. Edited - here's link for you

                                                                                                              1. Look at making stuffed green peppers (traditional or Mexican-style with salsa & refried beans) or stuffed acorn squash with your cooked chicken & rice.

                                                                                                                Layer your cooked chicken with corn tortillas dipped in enchilada sauce, beans and cheese in an 8 x 8 dish for a "lasagna" that holds well and is ready to re heat.

                                                                                                                1. I find that advance cooking can both help and hinder in terms of variety. As you say, roasting a chicken and eating it all week can get really boring.

                                                                                                                  It seems that you're averse to freezing food. Are you using the little freezer on top of your fridge? I find that can make an big difference to the quality of the food you put in there - freezer burn and how long it lasts. I don't know your circumstances, but I have found using a stand alone chest freezer makes a big difference. You can get quite a small and relatively inexpensive one these days, especially if you check out Craigs List etc.

                                                                                                                  Also, I find that leftovers last well in the fridge for up to a week unless it's seafood (though even then in a bouillabesse for example I'll leave it for several days). Knowing that means that you don't have to eat leftovers the very next day (you mention shepherds pie) so the food you've prepped on Sunday doesn't get boring immediately.

                                                                                                                  If you can possibly carve out any time (birthday present evening off maybe?) perhaps you could do a local cooking class in say Indian cooking. It tends to be time consuming upfront, but easy to make a lot then have a couple of meals worth during the week and freeze a couple of dinners worth.

                                                                                                                  Breakfast for dinner can be a God save - eggs, bacon, toast, even cereal. And no need to feel guilty as long as it's not every night! (Like some of my other ideas in this post.)

                                                                                                                  Look at your local supermarket for jarred Thai curry sauces. They often have a very easy recipe on the side, or it's easy to google - maybe sauted onions, add some paste, add chopped veg and cubed protein if you want and coconut milk. If you have the vegetables prepped from the weekend, perhaps you have time to set it up to simmer and have it finish while you take care of the dogs?

                                                                                                                  Quesadillas - very quick and easy. I just put refried beans (from a can), salsa, corn, mozzarella on a torilla, top with another and pan fry in a nonstick pan with very little oil for a few minutes, flipping half way through. Totally inauthentic, but if you're working as hard as you are and have little time, it hits the spot.

                                                                                                                  Plenty of salad and fresh fruit to round out a meal, decent bread that you can toast after it's best or warm up in the oven with a spritz of water.

                                                                                                                  Tomato soup and grilled cheese.

                                                                                                                  You've had some great ideas in this thread, I hope they're helpful to you and you don't stress out too much.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Chatsworth

                                                                                                                    You bring up several good ideas -

                                                                                                                    Chest freezer - double yes! I just upgraded from my refrigerator freezer less than a week ago and I'm loving it already. I bought a fairly large sized freezer for just two people (7 cu ft) on sale for $200 which to me is a pretty good investment. It's amazing how many things I've avoided wasting already.

                                                                                                                    Leftovers - yes, I always hesitate to say that I eat them more than 3 days after they have been in the fridge since many think it's a safety no-no, but I've never had any issue.

                                                                                                                    Breakfast - I love breakfast for dinner and have some form of eggs for dinner at least twice a week. It's also a good way to use up things in the fridge that are on their last legs.

                                                                                                                    Jarred sauces - I used to not buy many jarred or pre-packaged products but recently started browsing Trader Joe's and now use many of their pre-made items. Even simple things like a jarred olive tapenade, packaged yogurt dip, hummus can be used to make a complete meal. Often for a quick lunch or dinner I'll pull out some chicken, add it to sauteed kale or any other vegetable and mix in a few Tbsp of whatever sauce I'm in the mood for. Wegmans also has great pre-made sauces, I particularly like the Thai Peanut sauce.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                      We keep non-seafood leftovers for a week. A week. Knock on wood, been just fine for 10 years of cooking for myself/hubby/now 2 year old. Seafood leftovers get the 3 day rule.

                                                                                                                  2. Allenki, I spent my afternoon cooking meals for this week. I chopped all the leftover root vegetables and made a soup and it is in the slow cooker right now.. I had some ground beef and so prepared fajitas for tomorrow night. I had leftover pasta sauce so I made a small lasagna, I have patted some butter over various chicken parts and doused them with some Indian Marsala spice, in preparation for roasting, and I chopped my romain lettuce. Sometimes I find an entire afternoon of preparation so absorbing and am tired afterwards but it's great to come home to organized suppers.

                                                                                                                    1. I'm retired now but I still do the majority of cooking on my weekends. I also spent 5 years commuting an hour and a half, and doing one a week cooking.

                                                                                                                      I know you mentioned little/no gluten, but we mix things up a bit with whole wheat wraps (you could use gluten free wraps), Irish Soda bread (you can make soda bread with oatmeal/oat flour if you're not sensitive to oats) and pão de queijo (a cheese roll made with gluten-free tapioca flour).

                                                                                                                      Raw spinach, mushrooms, and broccoli/cauliflower all stay fresh last longer than wet/sugary veggies and we eat some combination of them in pretty much every dinner.

                                                                                                                      I like to make home-made red sauce over the weekend. Lasagne and chicken parm taste VERY different from each other even using the same sauce and the same cheese. I don't freeze cooked meals either, but I do freeze my sauce and a lot of staple items.

                                                                                                                      Don't forget vegetables as a main course: corn soup, eggplant parm, mushroom medleys, spaghetti squash, etc. These kind of dishes are very filling and a VERY welcome change from the endless "beef/chicken/pork" treadmill.

                                                                                                                      Since you're avoiding gluten, I'd consider sitting down with some low carb cookbooks and paging through them for recipes. Then, categorize them by the meat and prep methods.

                                                                                                                      I'd also try to get into the habit of making one thing each weekend that you freeze for future use. Chicken stock, or home-made meatballs, or roasted corn cut off the cob. It helps to have a chest freezer but even a regular freezer should have room for a couple things. In the middle of "chicken week" it's nice to be able to make Swedish meatballs or Italian wedding soup from your home-made frozen meatballs.

                                                                                                                      Don't overlook the ubiquitous crock pot. I use mine for all kinds of crazy stuff. I caramelize onions in it, and make bread stuffing (to serve with chicken or turkey), and make extra-slow-cooked 24-hour pulled pork. I also make the more traditional soups and chilli in it. If you google for them you can find "10 hour crock pot recipes" (to allow time for your long commute). My crock pot lets me simmer chicken or vegetable stock during the week to use as a base for whatever I'm going to cook over the weekend, which then lets me make gravy or a proper soup with my actual weekend time.

                                                                                                                      I also boil up a large pot of mashed potatoes each weekend. My husband's family is Irish and Scottish and apparently his ancestors survived entirely on oatmeal, soda bread, and potatoes. I refuse to cook oatmeal, but I provide him with a steady infusion other two. I'm not sure why, but mashed potatoes don't seem to suffer from re-heating (unlike baked or fried potatoes). I can make lazy gnocchi (requires eggs), or the topping to shepherd's pie, or "pesto mash" (pesto sauce mixed into mashed potatoes) and my husband is happy with his potato fix, but I don't get that "oh no, potatoes AGAIN" feeling.

                                                                                                                      We eat meatless meals at least one or two nights a week. I like to make Italian and Sicilian antipasto dishes as main courses. Pickled artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes and mushrooms, asparagus tips, cubed cheese, and/or olives all mixed with fresh herbs and Greek yogurt or a vinaigrette, served on a toasted bread trencher smeared with olive oil. Admittedly, it is high in salt, but otherwise pretty healthy.

                                                                                                                      We also eat some Tex-Mex food. It gives my (adult) son a chance to contribute to the household cooking. He doesn't really enjoy preparing elaborate meals but he does likes to whip up tacos, burritos, chilli, or black bean soup.

                                                                                                                      Once a week cooking isn't just about reusing the same meat in different ways. It's also about re-using the same staple ingredients. As I mentioned earlier, you can use red sauce to make meat parmesan, as well as pasta (or in your case spaghetti squash) + meatballs. Same base ingredients, different taste. A frittata, a quiche, and hollandaise sauce all use eggs and butter, but all taste very different.

                                                                                                                      Oats are gluten free, although they have something that can irritate some gluten-intolerant people. If you're not allergic to oats, oat flour can be used to make a dough for crusts or bread. Almond meal is rather expensive, but if you buy whole almonds, blanch them, and grind them yourself you get fresh almond meal for a fraction of the cost. Almond meal is used in flourless cakes and some kids of cookies.

                                                                                                                      As far as not getting bored, the main thing is to make sure you allow for a lot of variety.

                                                                                                                      It helps to have recipes you already like, and from a range of regions (some Italian/Spanish, some Continental, some Tex-Mex, some American Southern, some Chinese/Thai, etc. Have some elaborate, "fancy" recipes and some casual bar food. Have choices that are rich and filling, and other choices that are light and refreshing.

                                                                                                                      1. I've been cooking Persian dishes on Sundays for during my week. They somehow work exceptionally well for that. A minute or two in the microwave, when I get back from work, is all it takes to have a tasty healthy meal every night of the week. The different types of Khoresht they have get even tastier as they settle in the fridge.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: HashHash

                                                                                                                          They had a great article on this type of food in The Globe and Mail over the weekend.

                                                                                                                        2. Just wanted to thank everyone for great ideas and provide an update!
                                                                                                                          First, it turns out that my elbow was chipped on the very tip, so no cast required (yay!). I was told to use my arm, but of course my mobility is still very limited and it still hurts.
                                                                                                                          So, with half a good arm, I decided to try and cook ahead this weekend. This is what I made:

                                                                                                                          Made brown beef broth on Saturday


                                                                                                                          Made beef meetballs
                                                                                                                          Made huge pot of traditional Ukrainian borsch with the broth and meat
                                                                                                                          Roasted various vegetables (carrots, cabbage, celery, cauliflower, broccoli)
                                                                                                                          Boiled quinoa
                                                                                                                          Boiled several eggs for the week
                                                                                                                          Made hummus and packaged in smaller portions
                                                                                                                          Washed and pre-cut veggies for hummus (celery, carrots, baby tomatoes, DE-seeded cucumbers)

                                                                                                                          This should last till Wednesday, I am guessing. I am traveling for work Wednesday - Friday late night, and I know my husband will eat out, so if it lasts till Wednesday and does not go bad - I am happy.

                                                                                                                          Next week I will try to make more ahead and also marinate some meat :)

                                                                                                                          again, thank you for all the ideas


                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                            Thanks for the update; sorry about the elbow. You've prepped way more than I would have with such an excuse and I'm sure it will all last several days. Be easy on yourself.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                              Sounds like you got a good start to things. I'm sorry to hear about the arm. I hope it didn't interfere too much with your prep. Also, take care of yourself, and make sure your husband takes care of you as well!

                                                                                                                              Hummus freezes well (hint :D).
                                                                                                                              Broth/stock freezes well also (hint :D).

                                                                                                                              You seem to eat a fair amount of cabbage. Do you eat sauerkraut? You can make kraut and ribs or kraut and sausage. Throw it all into a covered oven-safe pot and bake all day on low heat (or simmer on a back burner).
                                                                                                                              Here is my favorite recipe: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/spar...
                                                                                                                              I sub in a dried chili or two for my lack of juniper berries.

                                                                                                                              If you don't like to eat hummus as a veggie dip after you freeze it, you can use it to stuff mushrooms or as a thickener for a soup/stew, so it "cooks" after freezing and tastes different.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Eachna

                                                                                                                                Thank you for the suggestion - I will definitely try that recipe, as it looks delis! I need to make my own kraut :)

                                                                                                                            2. I haven't read the other replies yet, but as an example - I made corned beef on Sunday w/ the potatoes, carrots and onions. A couple of days of leftovers w/ sandwiches on rye w/ horseradish mustard for lunches. Yum!

                                                                                                                              In reality - I do 90% of my cooking on the weekend and rarely 'cook' after work. I do have easy fill ins if I don't want leftovers - sandwiches, cheese crisps, that sort of thing. I'm not above drinking my dinner but I try not to do that. I don't like frozen leftovers either. They sound like a great idea but I'm not fond of them.

                                                                                                                              Off to read the rest of your replies!

                                                                                                                              1. lamb stew, beef stew, swiss steak, all still good in 3 days.

                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                    Steak usually from a sirloin cut, coated in flour, fried with butter and water added to make gravy. My Mom made it for us quite often, very comfort food.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                      sounds delicious, I will have to try it

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                        I have looked up a few recipes, some call for tomatoes, here are two links for reference. My Mom always used the large sirloin cut that used to be found in grocery stores hardly ever see it today.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                                        ah Ruthie-made this family favorite last night for dinner.

                                                                                                                                        came home early actually and went straight for freezers to see meats available for our meal. much in both but the really nice pack of 3 sirloin steaks jumped out at me. did a quick defrost as I knew our way of making this is low&slow. heavily seasoned the flour (not the norm) butter&olive oil in Farberware electric skillet then steaks in. this time also chopped 1/2 small onion+1 cheek green bell that was added to water&beef broth mixed. cooked with continual checking as well as water added really slow 3 hrs. the gravy it makes is perfect for over mashers. husband loves this meal. last night it was with steamed corn cobs but usually he likes steamed baby green beans with lemon vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                                  2. Thanks for everyone contributing to this amazing thread.
                                                                                                                                    Is anyone willing to be kind enough to put together a step by step recipe for a newb cooking bachelor like myself?

                                                                                                                                    I recently made an Irish beef stew in the oven (with Guinness and all) in a large glass baking dish and it lasted me 4 days and I cooked a full pot of Quinoa on the side. I had this quonia + beef stew combo the whole week and I loved the convenience of it. Now I have set out for something similar.

                                                                                                                                    All you generous experts have said a lot of things and my head is whirring now. So, I was wondering if someone could just give me ONE recipe including saying how I can grill the veggies and put them in the freezer or fridge and also some kind of a meat or stew (since it has a lot of sauce and I love that) that I can have for as many as 4-5 days. I can always have Quinoa on the side.

                                                                                                                                    Thanks a ton guys!

                                                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Devilish

                                                                                                                                      Take a look at this easy Brazilian Black Bean Soup recipe that seems to have pretty detailed directions.

                                                                                                                                      We enjoyed it with added chicken (already cooked, rotisserie chicken from grocery store but you could roast your own.


                                                                                                                                      The mango was nice on it, but it can be tricky to select one that's not over/under ripe and dicing it can be a challenge. Feel free to skip that.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT


                                                                                                                                        Thank you for this!
                                                                                                                                        The chicken you mentioned, how did you pre-cook it?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Devilish

                                                                                                                                          Our grocery store sells whole chickens already cooked - a great convenience. And when I get them on sale the cost is about the same as a whole raw bird. But if you have a couple of hours, this basic, simple, roasted chicken will give you a good meal to start and wonderful leftovers to add to the soup. You can get much more elaborate (brining overnight, rubs, spices, stuffings). Based on what you've said about being a beginning cook, you may want to just try simple first.


                                                                                                                                      2. re: Devilish

                                                                                                                                        you can take a whole chicken and brine it on Sunday. Use the following brine:
                                                                                                                                        1 tbsp salt
                                                                                                                                        1 tbsp sugar
                                                                                                                                        1 tbsp apple vinegar
                                                                                                                                        5 litters of water.
                                                                                                                                        Dissolve sugar and salt, poor the mixture into ziplock or a bucket, submerge the chicken and keep in the fridge for a day or two.
                                                                                                                                        After that, when ready to roast, take out the bird, season with herbs and a little bit of salt, you can also stuff cavity with things like carrots, onions, celery, apples, lemons, etc and roast it in the warm oven till internal temperature reaches 85 degrees. Make sure to check from time to time so it doesn't burn (might need to be covered). I like to put a little bit of money on mine right before its ready :) Now you can enjoy roasted chicken and use leftover meat in salads and sandwiches through the week!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                          Allenkii, I think you'll kill Devilish if he roasts the bird to an internal temperature of 85 degrees.

                                                                                                                                          Make that 180 degrees, and everything will be all good. :-)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                            Linda, she most likely meant 80C and not 80F :)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                              Ahh, you're probably correct, herby. :-) However, since Devilish seems to have little cooking experience under the belt, the C or F would be helpful.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                LOL, yes, sorry - 85F not Celsius :)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                                  What??? Chicken cooked to 85F will be just above room temperature and raw!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Allenkii

                                                                                                                                                      Thank you! That's what I thought to begin with :)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                You guys are too kind.
                                                                                                                                                Thank you so much for all the assistance. To start small, I'm starting with this recipe on a larger scale.

                                                                                                                                                Taking it about 3lbs of ground beef...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: gourmanda

                                                                                                                                                  :::giggling::: I missed that, gourmanda. :D

                                                                                                                                                  Just busting your chops, Allenkii!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gourmanda

                                                                                                                                                    hahahaha, HONEY, not money LOL
                                                                                                                                                    I was tired when I typed that...sorry

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Devilish

                                                                                                                                                  I basically do the same--one big cooking day and eat all week. There are TONS of different recipes that work for this. This week I made a Mexican pulled pork dish with roasted cauliflower and zucchini, a cabbage and pepper slaw, and pickled red onions. It has lasted me all week with some in the freezer for later.

                                                                                                                                                3. I volunteer-assist a GF lady, leaving food cooked that she can munch on for days, and these things work: 1) Suitable cooked beef, pork, or chicken so that you can assemble a taco dinner with canned refried beans, avocado cut up with tomato and onion and oil and vinegar, lettuce, grated cheese, and CORN TORTILLAS, good to keep on hand always if you eat GF. 2 ) Lasagna made with GF rice noodle-type lasagna noodles. 3) Saute' onions, golden raisins, and curry powder in butter. Mix this with a big pot of freshly-cooked rice. If you put this curried rice with a piece of chicken, that's pretty much dinner. 4) Make deviled eggs and buy some cooked shrimp (or cook some) so you can assemble a substantial main-course salad---keep marinated artichoke hearts, pickled beets, kidney beans, and other salad things ready in refrig.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Perhaps a cookbook called The Big Cook by Deanna Siemens, Lorelei Thomas, Joanne Smith might be of interest. The concept cook many meals in advance, can have friends participate and your freezer is always full.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I usually just do a main meat item that can be turned into various things. For example pork shoulder or chuck roast can be pulled pork or bbq beef sandwiches, burritos, tacos or just eaten on their own with veg sides. Roasted chicken the leftovers can be quickly made into enchiladas ( if I needed to I could can my homemade sauce so it was always ready to go)

                                                                                                                                                      I'll braise chicken thighs in the tagine and then my husband takes the leftovers over rice topped with the braising liquid for lunch the next day.

                                                                                                                                                      Obviously soup. I went through a period where I was making big batches of soup that we would eat for 3 days. Same with chili.

                                                                                                                                                      Most of my focus lately has been on leftovers for my husbands lunch and not so much dinner all week.

                                                                                                                                                      1. i just made a batch of chicken/spinach enchiladas that will last three days in the fridge. no gluten as long as you don't mind how the corn torillas break down. but i like it. i used greek yogurt instead of sour cream and they turned out great and much lower fat.

                                                                                                                                                        last week i made small curry turkey meatloafs, 3lbs of turkey made 6 mini loafs, full of veggies, held together with oat flour and eggs.

                                                                                                                                                        i will also braise a big piece of beef or pork. then you can make it into tacos, or have it with potatoes one night, and salad another...

                                                                                                                                                        i also make a quiche a lot of weekends. that will sit fine for a couple days and you can eat it mid-late week...

                                                                                                                                                        1. don't forget about couscous and my favorite - polenta! The texture of polenta is different enough the next day, that I think it might not fatigue your taste buds. And couscous doesn't really need much cooking, just boil some water or broth, pour it in,then fluff. (it does have gluten though)
                                                                                                                                                          You can make polenta in the microwave too. No stirring on the stovetop for hours unless you want to.

                                                                                                                                                          1. I understand the challenge -- i work full time and have an hour long commute each way and I come home to 2 little kiddos. I cook 4 nights during the week and try to plan interesting meals so that I don't get bored. My husband doesn't really love leftovers, so if I'm repurposing already cooked items I try to reinvent it so that it doesn't appear to be the same thing. I tend to freeze raw items (proteins, etc.) and building block ingredients (stock, sauce), but I find that when I freeze cooked meals I don't ever feel like taking them out to eat them. they get banished to the freezer and then forgotten about.

                                                                                                                                                            I keep a wide variety of vegetables on hand for roasting as my sides. In regular rotation are -- peeled, cubed butternut squash, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli (which I prefer steamed). Also have corn and various greens (usually baby spinach and tuscan kale). I also keep some short cut starch type sides on hand...many kinds of rice that i throw in the rice cooker, but also some "cheat" sides like TJs frozen polenta, quinoa, thai style fried rice, etc. With a simple quick starch and a couple of roasted veggie sides, I'll make a quick protein and have a very well balanced meal. I also tend to oven roast most of my proteins so that i have mostly "hands free" cooking time while I'm trying to get both kiddos in bed.

                                                                                                                                                            Another time saving tip: after finishing cleaning up dinner I will do some basic prep for the next night's dinner -- chopping vegetable, marinating meat, pre-searing something that will go in the slow cooker, assembling components so that I have only a few steps to get a complete meal on the table the next night in minimal time.

                                                                                                                                                            Here's are some sample weeknight meals for us, along with my prep and timing tips:
                                                                                                                                                            1) Turkey saltimbocca made with thinly sliced turkey cutlets, layered with prosciutto, cheese and sage leaf; baked at 400 for about 25 min. Paired with garlic sautéed spinach and asparagus. You could assemble the saltimbocca the night before to just pop in the oven. Asparagus gets tossed with evoo, salt and pepper and roasts at 400 for 15 min. time them so that they come out together. and the only "hands on" thing to do is the garlic spinach which just takes a few minutes of sautéing on the stovetop with garlic and olive oil. (i use pre-minced jarred garlic even though i know the flavor is better slicing it fresh).

                                                                                                                                                            2) Trini-Chinese Chicken and Fried Rice. (see the NY Times recipe much lauded on this board) I make my version in the oven because I don't care to fry, and need the hands off aspect. the night before or in the morning, marinate the chicken in the soy/ginger/garlic/five spice mixture. because I don't fry it, i add the sesame oil to the marinade. i use boneless breasts or thighs. I also marinade it in a covered glass baking dish that can go straight into the oven. the night before or while the chicken is baking make the sauce (oyster sauce, habanero sauce, fresh squeezed lime juice). While the chicken is baking, put together the fried rice. I use the TJ's thai style shrimp fried rice as a base but add a bunch of things to it. I sautéed onions, garlic, and add cubed tofu and whatever leftover roasted veggies I have on hand, chopped up small -- carrots, greens, broccoli, etc. With all the additions, this side is a perfect way to round out the meal.

                                                                                                                                                            3) Indonesian marinated sword fish, curried couscous and roasted brussel sprouts. You can whip up the marinade in the morning or when you get home. It's an Ina Garten recipe that involves, garlic, ginger, dijon mustard, soy and evoo. the fish only needs to marinate a short while so sometimes i wait until i get home to whip this up. Brussel sprouts trimmed and halved the night before get tossed onto a sheet pan with evoo, coarse sea salt and pepper. Roasted at 400 or 420 for 40 minutes or so, depending on the size. The fish gets roasted at the same temp for 20-25 min for very thick steaks. Far East brand curry flavored couscous is excellent and cooks up in 5 minutes. Done.

                                                                                                                                                            4) Indian chicken curry with kale and chickpeas. Maya Kaimal's brand of fresh refrigerated simmer sauces are excellent to have on hand. Start brown rice in the rice cooker. Chop some boneless chicken breast and add to the simmer sauce (i like the vindaloo and tamarind curries best). Add a drained can of chickpeas and some already chopped tuscan kale. cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. TJs pre-chopped and bagged tuscan kale is a staple for us. This make delicious leftovers for lunch.

                                                                                                                                                            Those are just a few ideas that are in regular rotation here. others are ground turkey tacos/burritos/quesadillas. while the meat is browning you can assemble all of the toppings.
                                                                                                                                                            Leftover browned meat (or chicken fajita toppings) get turned into burrito bowls for lunch. Leftover brown rice, drained canned black beans, leftover taco/fajita meat, shredded cheese, salsa and a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves get packed up for my lunch. when reheated, the spinach steams and gets folded in nicely.

                                                                                                                                                            I try to plan ahead so that i never have to scramble and wonder what I'm making when i get home and have the bedtime rush. With a plan and some minimal advance prep i have been able to get interesting dinners on the table in a very short amount of time most weeknights.