A Week of Meals (Video, Recipes, Shopping List)
Here’s a short video that’s a time lapse of the entire 4 hours of cooking plus clean-up. For me, cleaning up is just part of the cooking process, so any moment I have a spare minute or two, I clean up a little!
How To Save Time
To prep and cook all this food took me 4 hours (almost exactly).
- There were several things I did that you may not do. For example, I made my own mayonnaise (recipe is linked below), and I made noodles from a bunch of zucchini/courgette. If you were to swap zucchini noodles with dry pasta, that would be a little less hands-on and might save you some time. Additionally, it’s way easier to change the portion sizes with dry pasta than it is when you’re making your own zucchini noodles.
- Additionally, I peeled and chopped all the fruits and vegetables myself. If you were to buy frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, that can cut down on the time significantly. My shrimp was raw, deveined, tail-on, and large. If you buy tail-off and small, that can save some time: I had to remove all the tails and then cut the shrimp smaller.
- I only have one large skillet, so at the end of the process, I had to patiently wait for the sausage dish to finish before I could start the shrimp scampi. If you have another skillet to work with, that could save you a little time as well.
- All in all, it took me 4 hours to cook all the meals below, and that time includes cleaning up. On average, I spend at least 12 hours each week cooking (I tend to cook 3 meals a day!), so this process hopefully saved me about 8 hours of time.
The Meals and Recipes
- For the sautéd broccoli, just chop the broccoli ahead of time. Then when you want this meal, warm the pork and potatoes while you sauté the broccoli for about 10 minutes (just in a little oil or butter).
- For the chicken, I ONLY used butter and salt as the rub. I mostly followed the time instructions.
- We also had fresh fruit with this meal.
3. Shrimp scampi with zoodles (recipe)
4. Twice-baked potatoes (recipe)
5. Crab cakes (recipe) with sweet potato fries and green beans
- If you cook the fries ahead of time, they’ll end up a little limp. Instead, peel and chop 3 sweet potatoes into fry-shape. Then toss them into a bag with cinnamon (shake it up, shake it up!). When you want to eat them, heat your oven to 400F, then place them on a wire rack and cook them for 25 minutes.
- For the green beans, just trim the ends and toss them into a bag. When you want this meal, sauté or steam the beans for about 10 minutes.
6. Sausage, carrots, apple, and zucchini (recipe)
7. Beef meatballs with red peppers and spaghetti squash noodles
- Spaghetti squash: First poke holes in the squash. Then you can do 2 different things. You can either microwave it for 2 minutes at a time, for 8-10 minutes, until it’s soft enough to cut with a knife. Or you can carefully cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place each half face down in a baking dish, and bake it at about 400F for 30-40 minutes. With the first method, you have to deal with the seeds afterward. With both methods, once the seeds are gone, you use a fork to scrape away noodles. (Here’s a helpful video for the microwave method.) I’m not a huge fan of the microwave, but since I don’t use spaghetti squash very often at all, I figured it would save me some time just this once!
- Beef meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400F. Roll some ground beef (or whatever meat you want) into small balls (just the meat!!). Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the balls you made.
- I chopped the pepper into small pieces and sautéd them briefly. Then I added the spaghetti squash noodles, a small can of tomato sauce (about 6 ounces), and I stirred that around for 10 minutes.
8. Spinach, mushroom, and tomato frittatas (recipe)
What I Cooked Then and What I Cooked Later
I cooked these things entirely:
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Spinach, mushroom, tomato frittatas
- Whole chicken
- Cauliflower rice
- Shrimp scampi
- Crab cakes
- Sausage, carrots, apple, zucchini
- Beef meatballs with spaghetti squash noodles
I prepped these things but did not cook them:
- Pulled pork: This was cooked in the slow cooker the morning we planned to eat it
- Sautéd broccoli: I chopped the broccoli ahead of time
- Twice-baked potatoes: These were once-baked, but the “twice” part happened the day we ate them
- Sweet potato fries: The fries were cut and seasoned but not cooked until the day we ate them
For most of these, I used heavy-duty storage bags. Most of them required a gallon-sized bag. I didn’t let the “pasta” dishes cool down before transferring them directly from the skillet. Then I labeled each bag with additional directions, if necessary.
For the beef meatballs with spaghetti squash, I added the squash and tomatoes to a bag, then tossed the meatballs on top.
I used foil pans for the twice-baked potatoes so that I can simply place the pan into the oven, directly from the refrigerator or freezer.
Once everything was cooled and in separated bags (labeled accordingly), I put nearly everything into the refrigerator. If you plan to make double the recipes, you would put many of these into the freezer instead.
For the “pasta” dishes, I dumped the entire bag into a skillet for about 10 minutes until warmed. It’s already cooked, so it just needs to warm up.
For the twice-baked potatoes, I followed the directions on the container (350F for 20-25 minutes).
For the sweet potato fries, I followed the directions on the bag (400F for 25 minutes).
For the green beans and broccoli, I just sautéd them in a little oil.
For the rest, I popped them into the microwave.
Or just use the oven to reheat nearly all of it. If it’s from frozen, I would let it thaw before reheating (especially the twice-baked potatoes, since they aren’t quite cooked yet).
The Shopping List
[ Here’s a printable version of the list below (PDF) ]
This shopping list is for the recipes above, in the way that I followed them. A few recipes (like the whole chicken), I don’t include all the ingredients. So I did not include those in this list. If you find that you don’t have something, and you’re in the middle of cooking, that’s okay! As long as you have the main ingredients, you can nearly always omit one small thing.
This list is for exactly what I made. If you’ve got a larger family or if you want to double everything, feel free to do so!
I would suggest printing out all of the recipes above, and if there’s an ingredient you want to omit, you can do that more easily when it’s all in front of you.
MEATS & DAIRY
- 7 pieces of bacon
- about 1 pound of lump crab meat
- about 2 dozen eggs
- 4 links of sausage (I like Aidell’s Chicken and Apple)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 5-pound Boston butt roast (pork shoulder butt)
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 pounds shrimp
- ghee or butter
- milk (just about 16 ounces)
- 2 apples (plus more for snacks, if you want!)
- bananas, blueberries, dates, oranges… for snacking
- 6 red potatoes
- 6-10 Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 pound green beans
- 6 sweet potatoes
- 6 zucchini squash
- 6 carrots
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 7 garlic cloves
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 3 cups of spinach (1 small bag)
- 8 ounces of mushrooms (whatever type you want)
- 6 Roma tomatoes (or 3-4 large tomatoes)
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1/2 yellow onion
- coconut flour (just about 1/2 cup… regular flour would work too)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- ground cinnamon
- 6-8 ounces of tomato sauce
- coconut oil (for cooking… you can use whatever oil or fat you prefer)
The Day of Cooking
Let me explain how I thought about all of this. I considered the tools that I had:
- 1 large skillet
- 1 small skillet
- 1 flat skillet
- 1 large pot
- 1 small pot
- 2 baking sheets
- 1 Dutch oven
- 1 slow cooker
- 3 large mixing bowls
- 1 electric mixer
- 1 oven
- 4 burners on the stove
- 3 cooking timers (oven timer, microwave timer, iPhone timer)
For cooking, I knew that there were several things that would need to go into the oven. They were these items:
- Bacon (for the twice-baked potatoes, though you could cook this on the stove instead)
- Red potatoes
- Whole chicken
I considered cooking times and temperatures, and I came up with this agenda “for the oven“:
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place bacon into the oven. Set a 20-minute timer.
- Pierce holes in red potatoes. Place them in baking dish.
- Put potatoes in the oven. Set a 40-minute timer.
- Remove bacon.
- Increase the heat to 475F.
- Prep the whole chicken.
- Place whole chicken into Dutch oven, into oven. Set 15-minute timer.
- Remove potatoes (let cool).
- Lower oven temperature to 350F.
- Set timer for chicken based on weight (20 minutes per pound).
- Near end of the timer, prepare the frittatas.
- Put frittatas into oven.
- Set 25 minutes timer (since the temperature is at 350F).
- Remove frittatas.
- Remove chicken.
I only needed to boil water for the sweet potatoes (mashed sweet potatoes) and boiled eggs (not listed above… totally optional). I went ahead and did that early on so that I could mash the sweet potatoes.
There were a lot of things to peel and chop. Here is the prep list:
- Peel and chop 3 sweet potatoes.
- Peel and slice 3 sweet potatoes (fry shape).
- Place the fries into a bag with cinnamon, and write directions for fries on the bag.
- Microwave (or cook) spaghetti squash.
- Chop broccoli. Place the chopped broccoli into a bag, and write directions for sautéing on the bag.
- Chop mushrooms and 2 tomatoes (for frittatas). Set aside for later.
- Chop the other tomatoes (for shrimp scampi). Set aside.
- Chop 1/2 onion (for cauliflower rice).
- Chop then blend cauliflower (for rice).
- Begin to thaw shrimp.
- Spiralize the zucchini (or chop into thin strips)… or just use dry pasta!
- Peel and chop 2 garlic (for shrimp scampi) and peel the rest for the pulled pork.
- Blend Brussels sprouts (or chop finely) (for twice-baked potatoes).
- Chop sausage links (for sausage, carrots, apple, and zucchini).
- Peel and chop carrots.
- Peel and chop apples.
- Chop 1/2 of the red pepper.
This is complicated! It wasn’t a perfect science. And if you’ve got any substitutions, your list will be different from mine. But this is how I approached everything:
If I were you, I would take a sheet of paper. On one half, write the prep list. On the other half, write the oven list above. And at the bottom of the other half, write out the recipe list. Or just print this out (PDF):
Once you have that, you simply move your way down each list. The recipe list helps you remember what needs to be done. The cook list keeps track of what’s going on in the oven. And the prep list is like, “Okay what can I do next?”
I would also keep the recipes pulled up (though they aren’t terribly complicated). In fact, I just pulled them up as I went along.
If you have any questions before you start or even during the process, chances are, you can reach me. I may not get right back to you (especially if you’re in a different time zone). But if you’re unsure, please email me! (bethany @ blwideas.com) or message me on Instagram or Facebook.
Good luck, and happy weaning!