I only cook once a week. I’ve been doing this for years. I started cooking once a week when I was in grad school and didn’t have time to cook. I’ll say it again: I cook all the food for a week, once a week. In one day, I do a week’s worth of cooking. Now are you beginning to understand?
I thought I might dedicate a few posts to this topic, because for some reason every time I mention that I only cook once a week, people sound amazed. And I wanted to explain that it’s not only not very hard, it’s actually very easy. Being easy is only one of the benefits. Let me lay out several reasons for you to only cook once a week.
1. It’s Easy. Like I just mentioned, this is easy. For our two-person household (my husband and I), I cook 4 dishes per week. This allows us 1-2 meals to eat out: whether that’s Taco Tuesday, dinner with friends, Date Night, or Sunday Brunch with family. You can adjust the number of dishes, or the size of the dishes, to compensate for your household and your eating out habits. My dishes are so easy to make, that’s why I call it No-Brainer Cooking. Also, all the ingredients can easily be changed to fit your tastes. I’ll give you my recipes, but really, feel free to make them your own. After a long day, who doesn’t want to come home, heat up dinner, and eat within 7-8 minutes?
2. It’s Fast. How long does it take you to prepare a meal? 20 minutes? 30? An hour? And that’s just for preparation: chopping, mixing, stewing, baking. It doesn’t take into account the number of times you have to open your refrigerator to retrieve something you forgot. It doesn’t factor in the amount of time you spend searching for measuring spoons, realizing you chose too small of a pot and need to transfer to a larger one, or throwing away trash. Finally, there are the dishes, which you must clean every time you prepare a meal. When you cook once a week, you only search in your refrigerator once a week. You only dance the tricky kitchen dance once a week. The biggest bonus? You only clean all those dishes once a week. If that doesn’t make you dance for joy, I don’t know what will. I promise that I only spend about two hours in the kitchen, and then I walk away. The kitchen is spotless, the fridge and freezer are filled with food ready to be heated and enjoyed. I don’t need to pull out another pot or pan until next week. It’s like a kitchen miracle.
3. It’s healthy and tasty. I promise that if you have been eating out a lot, you will lose weight. If you are already a healthy weight, then you will maintain it. Do you think about all the times that there’s no food in the house so you have to run out and grab something? Or you don’t have time to make a lunch so you stop at a fast food place? Those days are over. Now YOU are in control of the calories you eat, the portions you serve yourself. The ingredients I use are always low-fat, low-sodium. My produce is fresh. I know exactly how much oil is being used on those fajitas. I know if my beef is 98% lean. My dishes are easy to make vegetarian, more meaty, gluten free: they are completely customizable for your taste (um… except vegan… not so sure about that one). And trust me: what I make is delicious. I make sure that the 4 dishes I cook are the type of things that get better as the days go by: soup, chili, pasta, casserole. These things actually taste better the 2nd and 3rd day because the flavors have had time to sit together. Trust me; it’s fact.
4. It’s cheap. I’m nothing if I’m not cheap frugal. Our grocery bill is typically $60 per week for two people. Sixty dollars per week for two people for ALL OUR MEALS (except the 1-2 we eat out) breaks down to roughly $3.15 per meal for the both of us. Have I convinced you yet?
5. You can do it together. Involve your kids and your hubby. Cooking is really fun when everyone isn’t starving at the end of the day. Pick a day when you can dedicate about two hours to cooking and cleaning the kitchen (because, hey, if you’re done with your cooking for the week, you might as well clean the kitchen and let people believe that elves do the work at your house!) Have the little ones wash vegetables. Maybe your hubby is as good as mine and will help you wash the dishes. He may even take ownership of a dish and then you can cook side-by-side, preparing two totally different things! The possibilities abound. I will give my recipes and grocery list, because for me it’s really fun to find recipes and not a hassle to go shopping for the ingredients, but I know not everyone enjoys it as much as I do. For our family, Sunday is grocery day. I ask my hubby, “what do you feel like eating this week?” We decide on 4 things we want to eat, make a list, and go shopping. Then cooking day is the day I need/feel like cooking. I’m not rigid like, “must shop on Sunday, cook on Sunday,” Although it makes sense to shop and cook pretty soon thereafter. We usually shop on Sunday, cook on Monday. But every week is different, and your once a week cooking must be ready to adapt to the changes.* So do whatever works for you.
*I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I find myself nearing the end of the meals that should have lasted a week, and there’s not enough. Maybe we had a friend stop by for dinner. Or my husband worked out extra hard at the gym and took a double portion of lunch. But don’t worry, I will teach you how to prepare for these occasions. You’ll be ready, and no one will go hungry. So let’s get started.