Meet Nick. I’ve known Nick since my freshman year of high school, when I tripped while jogging and fell on my face in front of the entire gym class. Nick teased me endlessly, and a friendship was formed.
In our 15 years of friendship, we have bonded over many things–marching band, roller blading, and most recently, food. Nick loves it but wants to learn more, and I love it, know a lot, and love to talk. A perfect combo if you ask me.
Recently, Nick asked if I could help him form a weekly dinner plan that he could execute in between attending nursing school and his day job. His goal? To stop eating frozen pizzas and tv dinners when he is short on time, and to use his few free days to cook more.
Check out the plan I created for him and how well it worked for him (plus food porn) after the jump.
Obviously, I couldn’t teach Nick everything there is to know about cooking in one week (hell, I’m still learning!). But I knew I could teach him a few essentials I have picked up from working in kitchens and cooking for my own family.
First, he told me his schedule. The plan posted below is based on his free time each week, but you can easily adjust the schedule to fit your own needs. Nick prefers to get most of the work done on the weekend, so I tried to accommodate that, but you could easily split up his massive prep day over several days if your schedule allows.
Do what works best for you, but make sure to write it down! Writing out what you need to do for the week’s cooking and when your free time is can help you schedule your time better so you have more time to relax later.
The lesson- cook one piece of meat and have it feed you for days
The schedule (short form)-
Saturday-Grocery Shop and make stock
Sunday-Massive Prep day- Store stock, make soup, roast chicken and vegetables, shred half chicken, make/preportion salad
Dinner: Spicy apricot-glazed chicken with roasted vegetables
Monday- Make sandwiches for two days.
Dinner- Chicken Salad Sandwich with tomato soup, sliced veg
Tuesday-Dinner- Chicken Salad Sandwich with tomato soup and salad
Wednesday- Prep enchiladas for Thursday, make salad topped with chicken
Dinner: Mexican Chicken Salad
Thursday: Dinner: Chicken Enchiladas Verde topped with greek yogurt, fresh avocado, side salad
Friday: Dinner: Leftover enchiladas topped with gooey fried egg,avocado and greek yogurt, peanut butter cookies
The schedule (long form with photos)
Saturday-Grocery shopping-Buy your chicken from a place that has actual butchers, like whole foods. I always ask for an organic bird around 3.5-4 pounds. have butcher cut it OR cut it yourself, one whole chicken half and the other half cut into wings, breast, thigh and leg, all separated. Also, you want the spine removed for you, cut in half and throw in the bag for stock.
Roast—the chicken wings and spine in oven @ 375, covered with olive oil, s & p, until bones are browned, 20 minutes.
Crockpot—place bones and wings (with meat on) in crockpot, along with two roughly chopped carrots, one roughly chopped onion with the skin on, two roughly chopped celery stalks. Cover it all with water and fill up the crockpot. Turn it on low anytime after 7pm Saturday night, and turn it off first thing Sunday morning.
Sunday- Massive prep day!
*Strain stock, portion into 2 cup increments in freezer bags and freeze. Be sure to set enough aside for your soup. You will want to make four portions of soup to feed you and one other person for two nights, and one serving equals 8 ounces of stock.
*make a soup- creamy tomato soup using HALF of this recipe http://www.leenaeats.com/blog/leena-cooks/leena-cooks-c-i-s-creamless-creamy-tomato-soup/#more-429. You will use half of the can of crushed tomatoes for this, and save the other half in the fridge for Wednesday.
*Prepare the whole chicken half by rubbing in olive oil, salt and pepper, and place it atop of some baby red or white potatoes, big chunks of carrots and onion also tossed with a small amount of olive oil, chopped garlic, s&p. The fat will drip down and flavor the veg for your dinner. Roast at 400 F until done.
*Prepare the leftover chicken pieces for you actual dinner on Sunday night. You will make a spicy apricot glazed chicken with roasted veg. Rub in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast along side of the chicken half. When the chicken pieces are almost done, remove from oven and brush the spicy apricot glaze (apricot jam, red pepper flakes and a bit of water to loosen it up) on the chicken pieces. Let the chicken halve and veg finish, then crank the oven up to broil, and place the chicken under the broiler. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the glaze is cooked and crispy bits have appeared. Serve with veg that was cooked under the whole chicken half.
*Let whole chicken half cool, then shred all the meat and store in a Tupperware container in fridge. Save the bones in freezer for your next stock.
*preportion one serving salad, sliced veg into sandwich baggies so you can have healthy side dishes during the week.
*Have spouse make a quick chicken sandwich and serve with the soup and side salad for your dinner. Have her make an extra sandwich for nick’s dinner Tuesday night, and hard boil one egg for a Wednesday dinner in the week.
Chicken salad- mix two sandwich portions of chicken meat with soften cream cheese and greek yogurt (just enough to hold it together),throw in chopped fresh tarragon, chopped red onion, red pepper flakes, and place on sandwich with cheese before grilling.
BBQ- mix two sandwich portions of chicken meat with just enough BBQ sauce to hold it together, then spread on bread, top with cheese and grill.
Tuesday- eat leftover soup, sliced veg, and extra sandwich spouse made you.
For dinner that night, take one bag of salad, top with chicken meat, shredded cheese, the hard boiled egg, chopped, and your favorite dressing. I like topping mine with greek yogurt, salsa and tortilla chips to make it Mexican-y. Greek yogurt is just like sour cream, but better for you.
For dinner on Thursday, you will make enchiladas Wednesday night. To make the sauce, combine the leftover crushed tomatoes, the can of salsa, and a small bit of chicken stock in a pot, heat until warmed through,a nd taste sauce to make sure it tastes ok. Take some chicken meat (let’s say a cup and a half, or whatever you have) and mix it with a small bit of the sauce. Wrap 8 corn tortillas in a wet paper towel and microwave for 45 seconds or until all tortillas are steamed and soft. Drag one soft tortilla through the sauce, then place in a baking dish that already has a bit of sauce on the bottom. Place a small spoonful of chicken in the center, a small bit of shredded cheese, and roll up. Repeat until all tortillas are used (can make cheese ones when chicken runs out). Pour remaining sauce across the top of the filled enchiladas, then sprinkle with a bit more cheese. Wrap in foil and place in fridge.
Bake enchiladas at 350 F for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Eat it with slices of fresh avocado and greek yogurt.
Make Spouse dinner
Fry up two eggs for each of you, over easy so it is still gooey. Reheat leftover enchiladas and serve with eggs on top and a side salad.
Make these cookies for her. Super easy and yummy.
Stir together 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 egg and 1 cup of sugar.
Scoop out into tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet and bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned on edges. Let cool on sheet pan and then enjoy!
After speaking with Nick and getting some feedback, the menu worked well for him. He really enjoyed doing a lot of work on one day, and having chicken meat for the following week. He was surprised how little work it is to cook chicken. He also really loved the enchiladas. He wasn’t a huge fan of salads or sliced veggies as quick side dishes, so I’ll try to find something more appetizing for future menus.
What do you think? Does this look like a menu you could accomplish over the week? If not, what would you change?