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.



Bake potatoes. 


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.



Appreciate yeast by baking bread and drinking beer.


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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