How to cook once and eat for a week – by an expert

-Mar 16, Hannah Hargrave , Nutrition -

If thinking up and cooking healthy meals night after night has become a time consuming burden then take a leaf out of food stylist and writer Caroline Pessin’s book! The French foodie and author of ‘Cook the Week in 2 Hours’ insists you can eat healthy, nutritious and delicious foods, and save time and money with her method of batch cooking. She shared with us her top tips for making meal times more manageable and divulged a few of her favourite weekly meal plans too.

It’s easy to turn to fast food or a quick fix piece of toast when you’re faced with the task of thinking up a meal, and cooking it after a long day. 

But a balanced, home cooked and nutritional dinner for you and your entire family can still be at your fingertips with just one cooking session a week. 

When you regularly reach for processed foods or takeaways your wallet and your waistline pay the price, but they really don’t have to. 

As a busy working mum, Caroline knows the pressures of producing a tasty meal, every single night, but she says with a little organisation and guidance you can ultimately have more time, more money, less stress and way less washing up on a daily basis. 

She offers a solution which she says takes just two hours of preparation on one day, to be able to eat fuss free for at least the following five days. So what does it take?

“If you’re looking to whip up a home cooked meal most of us spend at least 30 minutes each evening making it,” she tells Lumity. “That’s 2 hours 30 minutes. With my cookbook you’re looking at two hours and it’s out of the way in one go. Not only that but with batch cooking you actually end up with hardly any dishes to wash on a nightly basis and you don’t need to do last minute shopping at the end of the day.”

Before you think Caroline must have an army of sous chefs, a restaurant worthy kitchen and more freezer space than an ice cream parlour, think again. She insists all you need are the basics for cooking and some extra containers to store the prepared food. 

“Don’t panic, you can reuse big jam jars or plastic containers you already have at home to start the method, and if you like it, you can invest in glass containers.”

Her book has 16 weekly menus containing seven dinner recipes, two of which even have starters with them, and all are designed to feed a family of four. 

Make a shopping list

They come with a weekly shopping list  – although she also encourages stocking up on staples like pasta and quinoa – which Caroline says will help cut down on food waste too. 

“The list contains exactly what we need for the five dinners, not more ‘in case of’ add-ons. So that means no more old vegetables in the fridge at the end of the week because all the ingredients are cooked on Sunday. It also stops us getting food delivered or going to restaurants just because we can’t think of what to eat, so that saves us money and time too.”

Once you have everything you need; pots, pans, baking trays, the food and the containers Caroline suggests laying it all out and getting to work. 

Follow a step-by-step guide

‘Cook the Week in 2 Hours’ gives simple step-by-step instructions to preparing the meals and the more you do, the easier it becomes. 

“You get to know the shelf life of the different ingredients or meals, and you then see that many kind of food can be prepared in advance. Things like hard-boiled eggs, hummus, lentils, quinoa, cut vegetables, vinaigrette. With those ingredients, you can prepare a big and healthy salad in a few minutes.

“When you start out I suggest following menus from a batch cooking book You can then be entirely guided without asking yourself lots of questions. You will find the shopping list, the steps and the storing recommendations. Quickly, you will understand the keys and be able to create your own menu!”

Related: How parents can fit me-time into a busy schedule

Here are just two examples of Caroline’s seasonal menus

Menu 1

Monday

Starter – Fennel marinated in olive oil and lemon

Main – Turkey cordon bleu

Tuesday

Marinated skirt steak puréed baby carrots

Wednesday

Spinach and ricotta stuff pasta shells

Thursday

Salad Nicoise

Friday

Starter – Warm goats’ cheese toasts

Main – Prawn pad thai

Menu 2

Monday

Garlic leg of lamb, roast vegetables, cannelloni beans

Tuesday

Starter – Asparagus soup

Main – Herb-crusted fresh cod

Wednesday

Shepherd’s pie

Thursday

Starter – White-bean hummus, vegetable sticks

Main – Pasta with asparagus and fresh cod

Friday

Minestone

Caroline isn’t the only one who likes to make cooking simpler. Rukmini Iyer also shared her four favourite, one-pan dinners with Lumity and if you’re a busy parent you’ll love these quick and healthy breakfast ideas too.

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