On Cooking One Day a Week
[Editor's Note: This post kicks off our series on Quicker Dinners—tips, techniques and recipes designed to help you get a nutritious dinner on the table quickly and easily. Whether you're feeding yourself, you and a partner or spouse or roommate, or a whole family, these ideas will help you avoid the drive-through line and the phone call for take-out, and will keep you cooking at home even on the busiest nights. --Genie]
The Frugal Gourmet always talked about cooking one day a week, and I've lusted after directions ever since. (Cooking one day a week, of course, doesn't exactly mean you aren't cooking the rest of the week, but it does mean getting things ready so preparing meals during the week is easy.) Does this mean I have to have a meal plan? If I cook one day a week what should I do with all that I've cooked? What's the timeframe for cooking all those things??
Imagine my excitement when the whole world directed me to Tamar Adler's website where she preached a similar message. "Watch the videos!" the comments pleaded. Watch I did.
She makes a good point: vegetables that are cooked are more likely to be eaten. But the rest of the videos just made me think of all the things I could do if I too had a townhouse in the city with commercial-grade kitchen appliances, a walk-out patio/dining room, and an actual farmers market. Other than that it was just watching her eat lettuce. It was more of an introduction to a cooking show than an instructional video. Which is fine if I'm gearing up to watch a cooking show. But if I'm genuinely interested in your message to see if I want to spend my hard-earned dollars on your book? Not fine. I need a little more.
As each household has a different diet, I'm sure my search for an authoritative list of things to accomplish on the weekend will be fruitless. But that doesn't mean I can't contribute something to the cause. Here are some moderately useful things I try to do on the weekends to make my weekday life easier. The reality to my life right now is that some weeks I am either at work or getting to work for up to 60 hours or so each week. I pack lunches for my husband and myself and I cook dinner each night. I DO NOT WASH ALL THE DISHES EVERY NIGHT. Seriously. I pretty much just throw what will fit in the dishwasher and hope there's a travel mug somewhere in there. All the dishes get done on Friday nights, however, after marathon caffeinated soda drinking, using up all the hot water for a shower, actually using lotion, trimming my nails, plucking my eyebrows and burning my clothes. (Not really.) Let's just say I like to leave the workweek where it belongs (goddammit).
Before we embark, let me remind you of three cardinal rules to your own weekend whirlwind:
Rule #1: It's got to be easy to use or you won't use it on a weeknight.
Rule #2: Prep more than what you need. Bake four potatoes instead of two. Make salad for dinner and tomorrow's lunches.
Rule #3: Have a dinner plan for the day you prep all this food. Nothing worse than cooking all day and running out of dinner ideas.
I usually do this so I have a baked potato for a side dish for dinner on the night I bake them. Then I use the other ones I've baked for lunches or peeled, mashed with milk and cheese for potato soup.
First loaf gets eaten mostly the same day I bake it, because there is nothing on this Earth finer than hot fresh bread, butter, and a little glass of wine. Second loaf cools, is cut in half, then frozen in a bread bag and two layers of foil so I can have fresh bread until I run out...usually about Wednesday. This is why I try to make one batch of two loaves on Saturday and another batch on Sunday so I'm not caught without bread for breakfast toast during the week. The beer? Self-explanatory.
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