Last Sunday, I spent some serious time in the kitchen doing a load of food prep for the week. The goal was to streamline dinner during the week: get food on the table earlier, and spend less time cleaning up after.
I stocked up the fridge with a mix of cooked and just prepped food:
And then the week got started! So now that it’s Friday, how did everything go? Here’s a night-by-night review.
Monday: Success! I fried a few eggs, reheated some vegetables (and a drumstick leftover from Friday for M.), and poured spicy peanut sauce over everything. We had pulled some Tom Kha soup (the last of it, sob sob) from the freezer for Saturday lunch and not eaten the whole container, so we supplemented dinner with a mug of soup each:
This is probably not the most attractive meal I’ve ever put together (yeah, I know what some of you are probably thinking that peanut sauce looks like). But it was uber-tasty. The fact that I got home later than usual (thanks, train breakdown!) helped. Hunger is the best sauce!
Tuesday: Mostly success. I had chopped some kale and cabbage on the weekend to cook “during the week”, and planned to do just one night of “real” cooking on Wednesday. But, we needed something plain for Tuesday to balance out the spicy chili and spanish caulirice. So, cabbage and kale were cooked ahead of schedule. Without all the chopping (and chopping related cleanup), this was still a pretty minimalist kitchen night.
Wednesday: Semi-fail. Timewise, everything was great. I cooked balsamic eggplant (for Thursday) and cauliflower rice pilaf, plus a couple of tilapia filets (which, on their own, barely count as cooking as they’re done in about five minutes). But, the pre-grated cauliflower started turning to mush almost as soon as it hit the skillet. We ate it, and it tasted okay, but not as good as an un-mushy version. Fortunately we still had a little ginger pear tart and whipping cream left, excellent dessert compensated for so-so caulirice:
Still, I would have done better to just make two different batches of cauliice on Sunday night (I ate the last of the spanish caulirice at lunch today and it was still great!). Maybe time to invest in a second 12″ skillet
Thursday: Success! No cooking at all, 100% reheating. Okay, we were on round 2 of the mushy caulirice, but that’s already been owned up to in Wednesday, so let’s not count it against Thursday as well, okay?
Friday: Sooooo….I have the day off work, making speedy dinner less of a concern. Which means I’m instead having a fit of housewifitis and roasting a chicken (in the crockpot! It’s in there right now and so far all seems to be well). If I didn’t have the day off, tonight would involve cooking some vegetables, but I’d be skipping the chicken in favor of doing just quinoa burgers.
My thoughts? Overall, I’m still sold on the idea of doing a big Sunday prep. Had I been smart and cooked the second batch of caulirice on Sunday, I would have had no prep, minimal cooking (just eggs, greens, and tilapia, once each), and almost no cleanup during the week (just wiping out the skilletss, no cleaning chopping boards or wiping the counters free of raw vegetable debris). This past week, I was much more relaxed in the evenings, and we were both able to just sit down and relax with each other much more than during weeks where we’ve not front-loaded on the prep work (I say “we” because although I do much of the prep/cooking work, M. largely takes responsibility for cleanup, both for the weekend prep and anything happening during the week. Division of labor is so awesome sometimes!).
So, going forwards, I’ll still be working on fitting in a weekend prep session, but I’m going to be trying a few more tweaks. For weeks when we’re a little more time crunched and can’t prep everything, I’m still working on prioritizing tasks to maximize effectiveness. For the moment, that means figuring out which foods are messiest to prep and working on getting them out of the way on the weekend, since minimizing cleanup seems to be where the big potential for time savings are. So far, the list of “messy foods” is (roughly in order from most to least messy)):
Less messy foods include:
What do you think? Is the prep session worth it, or are we just turning into a pair of neurotics?