February 29, 2012

Once a Week Cooking in 2 Hours

If you read about my once a week cooking experiment last year and wondered if I've kept up with it, well, I haven't. I never tried it again after that one time. It would be rough for me to do that much cooking on a weekday (I work full time), and my weekends have been fairly busy with other things. But a couple weeks ago, I decided to try it again.

This was my dinner menu plan for the week:
Chocolate pancakes with strawberry topping (for Valentine's Day)
Salmon patties, macaroni and cheese
Dinner with friends

I didn't make every dinner ahead of time since the others were quick ones anyway, but I was able to get two main dishes ready to bake and two others ready to assemble. Before I started, I listed all the tasks I would need to complete and then ordered them in a way that would keep things moving. I forgot a few things initially, so this probably would have taken much less than 2 hours if I'd been more efficient. I also didn't menu plan based on the idea that I would be cooking ahead of time. Next time, I would choose more meals that are easy to prepare ahead of time and that share common ingredients (two dishes with pasta, two with beef, etc.).

12:50 - I start cooking the rice and heating up the skillet for the bacon.

12:58 - Cover rice to simmer; still cooking bacon

"Can I have some?"

I start putting together the enchiladas (with chicken I had cooked previously). Then I remember I need to be cooking hamburger and pasta for the pizza casserole and get that started.

1:44 - Enchiladas are ready, except for the sauce. The tortillas are falling apart (they were a little old), so I switch them to a smaller dish to keep them together a little better.

1:56 - I remember I have laundry that needs switched to the dryer.
Nathan steps in to work on browning the hamburger.

After the hamburger is done cooking, I make the sauce for the enchiladas.

2:22 - Enchiladas are done and I start assembling the pizza casserole.

2:33 - Pizza casserole is done!

2:34 - Oops! I forgot I needed to cook onion for the chowder.
I chop one up (sniff, sniff) and cook that.

2:49 - And we're done! Chicken enchiladas, pizza casserole,
rice for fried rice, and bacon and onion for chowder.

I try to pretend the kitchen doesn't exist for a while,
but Nenya is happy to begin cleanup for me.


  1. Great job. I have been working on freezer meals for the month. I have 10 done so far - today I will be making 2 bags beef stew and 2 bags savory vegetable beef soup. I have never planned an entire month of dinners but it has been easy - check out my blog for my help. :D

    1. I'm really bad about cooking for the freezer! I need to do that, at least one or two meals a month.

  2. Great ideas! I've never done the cook-ahead thing, but you made it look relatively easy! Did it save you a lot of time later in the week?

    p.s. - found you through WFMW

    1. It did save a lot of time, especially with the pizza casserole since I barely have enough time after work to bake it, let alone get everything ready. Another advantage was that I could reuse pots and pans that were already out, so I didn't have to do as many dishes.

  3. that is such a good idea. I'm so random with my menu and meal planning, I find it difficult to plan ahead. I could plan to eat chicken for dinner and then all of a sudden, we'll have pancakes.

    It's an excellent idea and well worth the planning ahead.

  4. That is such a great idea! I need to start doing this. The enchiladas sound awesome!


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