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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Cooking Once/Week (for the ENTIRE week)!

A lovely image I put together for your pinning pleasure
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In anticipation of going back to work a friend told me that I should cook just once or twice per week for the entire week.  Since I want to continue to eat healthy (for the most part) and continue to maintain our food budget it's imperative that I stay on top of cooking.  But continuing to cook frequently while working and trying to be a mom and wife and everything else can be, well, exhausting.

So, we're arranging things, STILL, and we're finding what works for us now that I'm back at work. I started cooking once/week about two weeks before I went back to work so that I could get the hang of things.  Cooking once (or twice) per week will definitely help keep stress from creeping in.  For now, I cook one day over the weekend (usually Saturday morning) and it usually takes two hours or less depending on what I'm making that week. And get this...I've even had food last for a full week and a half! Talk about impressive!!!

I have things baking in the oven, all the burners going on the stove and something slow-cooking in the crockpot all at the same time.  I don't try to make it complicated at all and there is no real "menu planning":

2-3 lbs of Chicken:
  • Baked (thighs) or drumsticks
  • Cooked in olive oil and cut into strips (breasts)
Thighs and Potatoes (baked)

Chicken w/ onions and peppers (chopped)

 Chicken and Rice (crockpot)

2-3 lbs of Beef
  • Browned and seasoned
  • Browned w/ tomato sauce

1 package of Beef Smoked Sausage
  • Chopped and cooked
  • Zucchini/Squash
  • Rice (lots of rice)
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Black beans
  • Chopped veggies (onions, peppers, etc.)
  • Pasta (salad, noodles)
  • Salad
  • Salsa
  • etc...

Lots of fruit / snacks
  • Bananas (tons)
  • Strawberries (a whole lot)
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Cookies (homemade - prepared, portioned and frozen)
  • etc...

Throughout the week we just throw things together as we see fit or I'll go ahead and combine things so we can just grab and go...

We can fill quesadillas, make tacos, have chicken over rice, spaghetti, sausage over rice and just pairing sides along the way.  So far it has really worked out for us.  We still have days where we just don't want what we have so we might make some kind of sandwich (i.e. peanut butter/jelly, chicken/cheese, etc.) or salad, and once or twice a month we order a pizza ($10 or less - usually w/ a coupon and that's the only coupon(ing) I do b/c it comes in the mail)! Obviously, the lists above aren't all inclusive, we have pork chops, and tilapia and broccoli, cauliflower, kidney beans, soup, you name just depends on what I decided to grab when I went shopping for the week!

Again, no planning, I've found that I just don't have time. I know how much I can spend every two weeks and I add it up as I'm shopping and pick and choose things to put back if I'm starting to go over a bit.

If you're wondering about breakfast we tend to eat a lot of fruits, smoothies, eggs, bacon (if we're splurging that month, ha!), pancakes and homemade muffins !

We have a pretty strict budget right now of $250/month (on average).  I know that sounds crazy, but it's been working for us for forever now.  It's definitely hard and some days I feel like all we're eating is a bunch of chicken, rice and beans, and homemade cookies, of course, but it can be done. Cooking a lot of things from scratch certainly helps, going meatless some nights and not wasting food are all essential!

I must admit that we'll be upping our budget to $350/month now that I'm working again.  I think that's still pretty reasonable for the size of our family.  Basically, I'll be using that extra bit of money to really stock up on staple items (i.e. flour, sugar, oats, nuts, honey, etc.)!

So yeah, that's that!  I know you have a lot of thoughts, maybe even some questions, so comment away!



  1. This is awesome, Nicole!! I do the same thing. On the weekends, I make a huge batch of pancakes or waffles to freeze for breakfasts. And on Saturday, I cook dinner for that day while I'm cooking a second dinner to put in the fridge. Like you, I have the oven and all the burners going. We've had a budget of $400 a month for a long time, but I'm actually trying to get it down to $300. I think I can get what I need for that amount, since I've started couponing... but I'm not good at extreme couponing! I usually save more than I spend, but one of my coworkers recently paid $9 for $60 worth of groceries. Crazy! I can't do that.

  2. I'm starting to incorporate a little more of this concept too! Not quite as "with it" as you are here but I will certainly try and incorporate some of your ideas, thanks for sharing! Stress relief is ALWAYS a welcome thing in our house ;)

  3. I love to see how other working Mom's and families do this. Thanks for sharing!

  4. That's a lot of cooking in one day but it really makes a lot of sense. I'd love to get on board with this but I'm the one with the organization yet my husband is the cook. Therefore so far it hasn't quite happened.

  5. What's the best method for freezing? Do you back in freezer Ziploc bags, containers, etc. Great post, I like the crockpot but because I'm at work so early in the morning, I feel like my food overcooks since It usually warms for a few hours before someone comes home to turn it off.

  6. Wow your meals are amazingly awesome! Your baby must be so proud and happy with you :) Congratulations!

  7. This is awesomely Amazing!!! I MUST try this!!! Thanks for sharing for us busy Moms!!

  8. That's SO much food!!! I'm going to have to borrow some of your chicken recipes though, those things look tastie!! Also, my feedback is that sounds so overwhelming!! I get overwhelmed when I have 3 pots on the stove!! BUT, it's great to go on ahead and get the meals for the week out of the way. Right now, I'm still cooking for only me. Chris is on a super diet right now (I'll have to give you the deets later) BUT when he's off that diet it's on!! Right now, I can cook one big meal and it'll last me at least 3 days, so I'd just have to cook one more thing. The downside is I like to cook for what I have a taste for. I'm going to have to try it though (along with using my crock pot and the oven...that would save some time too)!!

  9. This sounds awesome; but since I'm more on the same page as Cece ( husband doing the cooking) it prolly won't work for us. But good for you!!! Love you guys!!!!

  10. What a great idea, Nicole! Now that I'm working full-time I've been trying to stretch our meals and have lots of options in the freezer. Since you cook on the weekends for the whole week how do you go about making sure everything stays fresh? What are your methods for freezing? I'd love to start doing a once a week cooking marathon for the whole week!

  11. this is what i used to do until i became way too lazy for my own good!! i do need to get back to doing this because it was soo much easier!!


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