Once a week cooking is a whole new concept for me. As was bulk shopping. At first it was hard to see the benefit when you are putting so much time and money in the beginning, but it’s definitely paying off!
Traveling for work a lot, means staying in hotels, which also means no home cooked meals for days on end. At first, it is fun not having to cook but then it quickly becomes old and you find yourself missing your own meals. Now I’ve made the habit of cooking a week’s worth of meals before traveling so I can have a home cooked meal the night I get home. Win, win for all involved.
For one of my first once a week cooking experiments I started by using one of my favorite recipes, my dad’s homemade sauce, which was passed down by my grandmother. One big pot of sauce can be used all week long in my favorite foods.
Grandma Jo’s Sauce
2 medium onions cut into small pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1 piece of pork (one large piece of pork chop or pork rib)
1 piece of beef (rib or a piece of steak)
1 ½ lbs. of turkey or chop meat 98% fat free
2 cans of puree
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
Black pepper pinch
Red pepper pinch
While frying the onions until they turn translucent, start cooking the sauce and add one can of water per can of sauce. Add some garlic and cook. Put ½ the onions in the sauce and the other ½ you save to put in your meatballs.
Turkey or Beef
Mix all the ingredients and roll a tight meatball the size of golf balls NO bigger if you want great flavor.
The sauce typically takes 4 to 5 hours to cook. Make sure to keep stirring it as it cooks.
Five meals, One Sauce
Meatball Subs – This is easy enough, just need hoagies and cheese, your meatballs are already done and waiting in the big pot of sauce.
Eggplant Parmesan – Take two eggplants, peel the skins. Then dip them in egg and then bread crumbs. Then layer them in a casserole dish covering each layer with sauce and then with your favorite Italian cheeses. I use mozzarella and parmesan. Many people fry the eggplant, I find baking works just as well, if not better and it’s less fattening.
Baked Ziti – 1lb of ziti and Italian cheeses are needed – mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan. My grandmother may roll over in her grave because I have simplified the process since she was alive but I tend to mix it all together, whereas she would layer it all. Either way works fine. Bake in the oven on 375 for 40 minutes.
Chicken Parmesan – This one might be the biggest pain of them all because you need the chicken cutlets beforehand. So one night you might just have chicken cutlets and the next night add sauce and cheese.
Peas & Macaroni – I use smaller variety macaroni add peas and sauce and we top it with parmesan cheese. It may sound weird to some, but I promise it’s good.
Lastly, spaghetti squash and sauce is out of this world! I use it as a substitute when I am following my low carb dieting and I don’t want all the carbs of spaghetti. Take the squash, cut it in half and take out all the seeds. Next, turn it upside down and rub a little olive oil on the inside and the outside, dash of salt and pepper and cook for about 30 minutes on 350. By the time you take it out of the oven you should be able to easily shred it with your fork.
And there you have it, five easy recipes that you can stock up on for the week or for the next time you travel and you want to come home and eat a good, warm meal. The best part is sauce items seem to taste even better after they’ve been frozen! Enjoy!
Chrissie Cole is a freelance writer for various blogs, including Speedy Incorporation, which helps new small business owners incorporate online as well as offering advice and information about running their business successfully via their small business blog.
Never worry about what's for dinner again. I've got you covered with the meal plans in the Once a Week Cooking Club. Cook once, eat all week.
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