One of my favourite ways to stay ahead of the meal planning and prep is to do a big “cooking WOD” on the weekend to stock my fridge with prepared meals and make the week’s cooking go smoother. I just finished up this week’s cooking WOD (Workout of the Day) and thought I’d share what I made and how I managed to prepare 4 days worth of meals in under 2 hours.
First, the meal plan.
- Saturday – beef stir fry (no recipe)
- Sunday – meat and salad for lunch (no recipe needed), dinner out
- Monday – smoked paprika chicken thighs, corn on the cob
- Tuesday – carne asada taco salad, homemade grilled corn salsa (I’m freestyling, but that recipe is similar)
- Wednesday – buffalo chicken “pasta”
- Thursday – lazy cabbage rolls (basically just ground beef, cooked rice, diced tomatoes and shredded cabbage in a casserole…perhaps a recipe post in the future)
- Friday – homemade burgers (Curtis’ special secret bacon jalapeno burger recipe) and sweet potato
- Saturday – leftover burgers
I took a look at the whole week and what we had going on. We plan to train Monday through Thursday evenings (after work and before dinner) so I need these dinners to be super fast and simple because we’re usually pretty hungry as soon as we get home. These are the dinners that I’m preparing for with my cooking WOD. The dinners are all double servings so they make our lunches for the following day. This meal plan also had to account for some backlog of veggies from our weekly CSA bag (hence the odd stir fry combo on Saturday, which turned out to be delicious). After making the meal plan, I did a rough list of what could be done in the cooking WOD.
Once I had that all figured out, I pulled all the meat for the WOD out of the freezer to thaw and did my weekly shopping. I usually do the planning and shopping on one day, and the cooking WOD on another to spread out the work. By this morning, all my meat was thawed and the fridge held everything I needed to cook.
- Put spaghetti squash and chicken breasts/thighs in the oven to bake.
- Make marinade and put steaks in.
- Start rice in rice cooker.
- Put eggs on to boil.
- Shuck and boil corn cobs.
- Brown ground beef.
- While beef is browning, chop onion and cabbage.
- Assemble lazy cabbage rolls and pack into freezable dishes. Label and freeze.
- Once the squash and chicken are out of the oven, prepare smoked paprika chicken thighs and put them into the oven to bake.
- Chop onions, jalapenos and tomatoes for corn salsa.
- Chop and store cooked chicken breasts and thighs, spaghetti squash.
- Pack and store any finished and cooled items still left out.
It’s tough to make a nice linear list of what I did because there are so many overlapping tasks. Rather that just standing by the stove watching my beef cook and poking it with a spoon continuously, I’m over at the counter chopping up the next ingredients I need or putting away a cooked item.
Start to finish, that list took me about an hour and 40 minutes to complete. I still have to grill the carne asada steaks and corn to finish up the prep for those items, but that will only be about 15 minutes more hands-on time later today.
Now thanks to my cooking WOD my weeknight meals are super fast to prepare after we get home from the gym. Here’s what needs to happen each night to finish off dinner along with my estimate of how long it will take…
- Monday – grill corn plus steak for Tuesday (10-15 min)
- Tuesday – slice cooked steak, assemble salads (5 min)
- Wednesday – reheat chicken and squash, make immersion blender mayo (10 min)
- Thursday – put thawed casserole in oven and set the timer before leaving for the gym (1 min…I mean, how long does it really take to turn the oven on and put something in??)
Pretty darn quick dinner prep times during our busy weekday nights!
Investing the time on the weekend to plan and prepare for my week ensures that the whole week goes smoother. It means that we’re fueling ourselves with delicious and healthy foods all week long and not getting stuck in the “I dunno, what do you want for dinner?” trap. A small time investment on the weekend makes nutritious, real food more convenient than convenience junk food.
It is not even an option for me to not make the time in my week to plan and prepare my meals. I value my health and fitness enough to make this a valuable way to spend my time. I hope this has shown you that real food can be quick and simple with a little planning.