How To Batch Cook for Your Busy Week: the Dinner Recipes Edition
“What’s for dinner?”
When I was a younger woman, this phrase thrilled me. It was full of wonder, anticipation, and excitement. I would pore over cookbooks and blogs and magazines, looking for the most delicious #recipes I could discover. It gave me a shiver of excitement to think about cooking for my dear husband and my single perfect little baby.
Then I had another kid. And another. And another. And I realized that cooking was a lot of thankless work. I mean, these people were hungry three hours after they just ate.
And if you cook, you have to clean. And if you cook, you have to grocery shop. And if you cook, you can’t spend as much time as you want reading or looking at Instagram or watching Dexter.
I did not like these tradeoffs. Listen, I birthed these four kids. I nursed them. And I do all of the laundry and cleaning and appointment scheduling and whatever. Everything.
We all have to eat, I get it. And for many years we would just eat the bare necessities. We had a lot of BBQ because Beau could escape out to the backyard after work and enjoy being Man of the Grill. Consequently, we still eat a lot of grilled things. And we all love it. In fact, if the question is whether or not Mom will cook or Dad will barbecue, dad wins hands down every time. They like my cooking. But the love his grilling. It really is a thing of beauty.
And I must say, I don’t mind at all.
But sometimes, I feel like I want to cook. Or I have company coming. Or I want more vegetables. So I have to plan. And I have to batch cook. And I want to share that gift with you. If you plan a week’s worth of dinners, you are less tempted to drive through El Pollo Loco on the way home from work. Your kids can even pull out your pre-prepared meals and heat them up for you.
Here are the associated #recipes:
Let’s get ready to batch cook!
Cast Iron Skillet
Quart Size Freezer Bags
Gallon Size Freezer Bags
1. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Cut your spaghetti squash in half. Cook in a pyrex dish, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, or until tendrils are easily separate from the skin. Spaghetti squash noodles should still feel “al dente” and not mushy.
2. Cut up all of your #vegetables: onions, garlic, kale, carrots, cilantro, yams, and herbs. I like to heap my cut vegetables in mounds on a large cutting board or in smaller prep bowls, ready to add to a pan or pot.
3. Season and mix the pork for the Sausage and Kale Soup. Cook in in the Dutch Oven and then, after pork is completely cooked, add in the broth and yams and continue to cook as directed. Kale is a hearty crucifer and will stand up to being cooked and then stored. In fact, I think it tastes better this way! The soup will cook for 20-30 minutes, so continue onto the next step below.
3. Start the Slow Cooker Flank Steak. If you are feeling adventurous, sauté the onions and garlic in a bit of #butter. Season the flank steak with the remaining ingredients and sear each of the four sides before you put it in the crock pot. Look at you! One meal down already! It will cook all day. After it finishes, shred it and portion it out into smaller ziplock bags. Write the name of the recipe and the date on each bag. You will have a serving for each person in your family. When Wednesday comes, you simply have to reheat the shredded #meat and serve it with cilantro over butter lettuce leaves (for you) or over nachos or tortillas (for your family).
4. Without cleaning out your cast iron skillet, begin to cook your ground #chicken. Add in all of the seasonings for the Spaghetti Squash Taco Boats and cook thoroughly. Remove it from the skillet and allow it to cool in a bowl. After it is cooled, portion it out into individual freezer bags in preparation for your Taco Boats. Write the name of the recipe and the date on each bag. Freeze.
5. It is probably about time to remove your spaghetti squash from the oven. Allow it to cool and then place it into a large Ziplock bag and store in the refrigerator. Your #soup is also probably done. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Portion the cooled soup into gallon sized Ziplock bags. Mark with the recipe name and the date and freeze. If you have doubled your recipe, good on ya! You will be so thankful you did come the next hectic evening. Soup will store in freezer for 2-3 months.
6. In that same skillet, make your ground beef for the Beef and Basil Bowls. You are simply cooking the meat today. When Friday comes, you will whip together a quick basil salad and top the bowls with your shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and green onions. When beef is finished cooking, allow it to cool and store in single portion ziplock bags. Write the name and date of the recipe on the bag with a Sharpie.
7. Clean out your skillet. It is time to use it for the Moroccan Lemon #Chicken. Sauté your veggies and remove from pan as directed. Then cook chicken as directed in the same skillet, on the stovetop, for about 30 minutes. This dish is the first of the week so you can store it in pyrex dishes in the refrigerator.
8. While chicken finishes cooking, make your RM #Salad Dressing. Add all ingredients to a Mason Jar and shake. I recommend making double batch. You can improvise with new herbs and vinegars as you get more confident. I always have a batch of this on hand. In the refrigerator, the olive oil can cool and harden, so either keep on the kitchen counter (perfectly safe) or remove from fridge an hour before you want to use it.
9. Make the marinade for the Pineapple Shrimp Skewers. Store in freezer. On #Saturday, remove the recipe from the freezer first thing in the morning and allow to thaw in the sink. When you finish cooking the recipe, either thread on skewers and grill, or sauté the whole bag of ingredients and serve over cauliflower rice. I like it both ways. They cook up in about 10-15 minutes.
10. Notice you are not batch cooking the Basic #Cauliflower Rice. This is because you do not want to get a whiff of cooked cauliflower every time you open your fridge. Make it the day of- it is quick and easy. If your family wants to eat regular rice with their dinner, please let them.
Now clean up and pour yourself a cup of half-caf or a glass of wine. You deserve it after that whirlwind. But don’t you feel accomplished? You don’t have to cook every night this week- just heat up a homemade meal and serve it to all of those hungry mouths. The feedback I get from my clients is that my #recipes are enjoyed by husbands and kids alike. You get the enjoyment of knowing you are serving dairy, free #glutenfree, allergen free, #sugarfree, nourishing foods to your family. So if you want to finish the meal with some chocolate or something, that is ok in my book!
To your health,