Cooking Ahead on Sundays


I have long known that preparing food in one big session is a great way to save time during a busy week. When I get home from the office at 6 PM, Itry to head right into the kitchen and start dinner, but sometimes that doesn’t seem to happen. Either the kids need something, or I decide to check one thing on the computer first–usually because I go to pull up the recipe and get distracted by other things–or I need to do a bit of a cleanup in the kitchen before I start cooking, I am embarrassed to say. That last one doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, but some nights we just don’t get the cleanup done before bed. You know what would help with that? Making dinner earlier, which leads to the explanation of the  whole cycle of cleaning up first, cooking and eating late, and not feeling like going back in to clean the kitchen again.

When my daughter was a toddler, I even did once a month cooking, which was great, but it is hard to fit that big cooking session in my schedule now that I am working full-time, and I don’t have the freezer space anyway.This week, though, I came across a brilliant idea through the Menu Plan Monday links: doing the prep work for one week’s worth of dinners on a Sunday afternoon. Even if I don’t prep everything up to the point of popping it into the oven (we do a lot of stove top recipes, and meals that start with sauteeing an onion and some garlic before adding everything else), some pre-chopping would certainly streamline the process of a week night meal.

I have also been struggling to make sure that we all get enough vegetables and less processed foods. I put lots of veggies in our dinners generally, but we could always use more. Some days, it seems like the veggies we eat for dinner are the only vegetables the kids eat all day. I am a bit better, but I could always use more. Pre-packing lunch snack packs with veggies could help here, and it would help a lot with our morning routine, too. Plus, anything that helps us move away from the processed foods we grab as a matter of course because they are so quick is a good thing.

Ideally, I would like to start making the following things on Sunday afternoons to make our week go more smoothly:

  • A veggie soup–soups are a fantastic easy way to get more vegetables in our diets. Plus, they are easy to reheat for a quick snack while dinner is cooking.
  • A large batch of slaw–I love a cabbage slaw, but a good carrot or broccoli slaw is a good option here. There important thing is to have a veggie that can handle sitting in a bowl with dressing all week, so lettuce salads are right out.
  • Something easy to grab for breakfast–We are always rushing though breakfast, it seems. It is downright embarrassing how many times we just eat a pre-packaged granola bar in the car. We do occasionally have the time to make smoothies in the morning, which I think is an excellent way to start the day, but it would be good to have something else relatively quick to grab.
  • Cut up veggie tray–the kids are more likely to eat veggies that are already prepped for them. So, broccoli florets, sliced bell peppers, and baby carrots on a tray with some hummus in the fridge might get eaten if they are ready to go.
  • Chopped veggies for the weekly dinners–it is faster to go ahead and chop five onions in a batch than one onion every night, and it gives a nice head start to meal prep. Also, I find that cooking with whole foods does really add a lot of time to my nightly cooking–it is time-consuming to chop all those veggies! Doing it all in one go at least means I only have to do it once. Maybe I can get better about suing my food processor to save me some work, too.

Here is what I made so far this week:

Cream of Baby Carrot Soup
Broccoli Slaw with this slaw dressing

The cream of baby carrot soup is actually one that we all like, or at least, will eat. I am going to serve the broccoli slaw and hope the kids will eat at least a little of it.

I am going to the grocery store soon, and I hope to make a few more things:

Veggie tray–bell pepper strips, snow peas, broccoli florets, carrot chips, edamame
Various preps for the week–chopping onions, picking and prepping kale from the garden, etc.
Ginger-Lime Slaw
A big pot of oatmeal

I know, I already made one slaw, but I really do love that ginger lime slaw. I already had the broccoli slaw mix, so I needed to use it, and I think I can handle two slaws this week. It will break things up a bit. I do already have the oatmeal ingredients here, but I want to get to the store before it gets too much later, or I will be tempted to buy convenience food so I am not cooking dinner too late.

Is anyone else doing prep work on the weekends to make the workweek easier?