Guide | 5 Tips for Weekly Cooking

Guide | 5 Tips for Weekly Cooking

Want to cook in bulk so you always have a fridge full of ready to eat meals without all of the headache? Then strap in, here are my top 5 tips for Cooking for the Week .

Intro

Wouldn’t it be nice to always come home to a fridge full of different proteins, vegetables and starches that are all ready to eat within minutes? I sure as hell enjoy coming home to it after a rough class on the mats. The last thing I want to think of after work and training is “what do I have to cook tonight for dinner.” That’s right I said thinking so imagine how much less I want to actually do the doing. (Not doing the dew, I am not a neon-green-syrupy-beverage-chugging-extreme-sports-junkie) Because of this I always try and implement the practice of devoting Sunday to “bulk day.” This is when I go and get groceries, come right home, unbag them and start to slave over the hot stove. In all it I tend to make enough food for the week so come meal time I just have a minor reheat or 10 minutes of cooking to do and boom, a full dinner is served.  Doesn’t that sound nice? Well let me tell you a secret, you can do it too, and its easy.

With these 5 crucial tips you can save  yourself a lot of time, money and energy. Who doesnt want more time to be YouTubing Kurt Osiander’s Move of the Week or money to be buying a snazzy new Inverted Gear Gi? So before you hit the store like you are on SuperMarket Sweep, give these tips a look over and thank me later by sharing these tips with all of your friends, family and training partners (I know those are all one in the same.)

Who is the safety coach!?
Who is the safety coach!?

1. Plan ahead & Shop Smart

This is probably the hardest part of the process for everyone. But Just break your meals up into a 6 day week. Then think, 2 | 2 | 2. What hell does that mean? You will be cooking only 3 “different” meals and cooking 2 days worth of each meal. I say “different” because realistically you want to have a lot of cross over ingredients but not cross over flavors so you are not getting bored and feel like you are eating the same meal. The trick is break up your meals into 3 day groupings.

Example:

  • Day 1: Meal A
  • Day 2: Meal B
  • Day 3: Meal C
  • Day 4: Meal A
  • Day 5: Meal B
  • Day 6: Meal C

With that routine you are never going to run into feeling like you are eating the same thing over and over and your food supplies will be lasting. So sit down and figure out what 3 meals you want to make this week, and think about ingredients you can buy in bulk and will use in the weeks to come. For example it is smart to buy quinoa, rice and other dry goods in bulk because they are cheaper, have a long shelf life and always good to have around in a pinch.

2. Cook Basic, Finish Advanced

With our meal plan in mind, we really do not want to drive ourselves crazy and try and make them all super different from each other. There is no harm in having brown rice or sweet potatoes in every meal, but that does not mean we have to have them all the same way every time. It is a good practice to keep you bulk cooking items neutral and then when you reheat them the night of you have the option to add in flavors that you want with that certain meal.

Example: You cook a large batch of brown rice…

  • Meal A: Fried egg and avocado over a cup of brown rice mixed with 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar and scallions.
  • Meal B: Seared Chicken breast with roasted vegetables and plain brown rice.
  • Meal C: Shrimp fried rice.

You leave yourself options but do the bulk work in advance. A little change can make a huge difference, doesn’t your professor always say its all about the details?

3. Prioritize

As Jiu Jitsu players we can all understand the saying Work smarter, not harder. The same applies for our day of cooking. You want to make the processes as painless as possible and as efficient as possible. I aim to always have it done within an hour, and I cook on my down day where I have no work, gym or major activities. The last thing I would want to do is to come home on a Saturday after a tournament and have to cook for the week. So first Pick a day that works best for you. Now that we have a day set aside, meals picked out and groceries bought it is time to shoot in and double the prep load. Always break down you prep list, aka what you need to do, into 3 categories.

This one doesn't have that tell tale *BEEP* we are used to, it just ominously ticks...
This one doesn’t have that tell tale *BEEP* we are used to, it just ominously ticks…

High Priority: These are your major project that should be started first, the longest projects. For example if you need to roast sweet potatoes and they take 45 minutes, you want to get them in first, so they are out and cooling by the time you are wrapping up.

Busy Work: Primarily just your vegetable prep and knife work falls into here. The tedious projects, like peeling asparagus or blanching broccoli. But also in this step consolidation is a huge time saver. For instance, if you need diced onions for 3 different components to your meals, you would cut all of your onions at once rather than at three different times.

Finishing Tasks: Minor tasks that just wrap up projects. If somethings is finished with herbs, you would cut your herbs here because it is not urgent. Or another example would be a Cous Cous you are working on calls for crushed almonds to be stirred in at the end, you would have “crush almonds” in this category instead of say, High Priority.

Example: Using the menu above my prep list would look similar to this…

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid.
K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid.

So start your longer, more time consuming projects first and leave the little details for the end and to fill in gaps of time you might have while waiting for something to be done cooking. This will save you a lot of time and make you a black belt at prepping.

4. Store Properly

Now that you did so much hard work the last thing you would want is to have your food go bad before you can eat it. The biggest mistake made is proper food storage. This is the area where you can really make yourself sick by creating an environment for bacteria to grow in your food that will make you feel worse than being in Knee-on-belly for hours. The funny thing is it is so easily avoided, the key? Patience.

Chill out: Let it your food cool down before you cover it! Simply put the food in the fridge uncovered and set a time for yourself for say 40 minutes, then once that goes off, go back, check if it is cold and then cover it.

Imagine being 130 lbs and trying to roll in an A4 Gi...yea it just does not make sense. Choose wisely young padawan.
Imagine being 130 lbs and trying to roll in an A4 Gi…yea it just does not make sense. Choose wisely young padawan.

Choke out:  Choose the right sized containers for our food that limits the amount of air. Store your food in appropriate sized containers. If you have only a cup worth of vegetables there is no need to store it in a 2 quart container. Just like our chokes, tighter the better. Also remember to store herbs with a damp paper towel over them to keep them from drying out.

Birds of a feather: store common ingredients together to save time and space. If you are going to be making scrambled eggs with peppers, onions and mushrooms, there is no harm in putting all of the vegetables together in one container instead of all stored separately.  I will even portion the vegetables into 2 containers so when I am ready to cook, I can just grab one and go instead of having to consolidate the other half into a smaller container after I used half of the vegetables.

I set up my dinner like I set up my submissions, well in advance and with deadly accuracy.
I set up my dinner like I set up my submissions, well in advance and with deadly accuracy.

5. Save the Protein for Later

This will require limited stops at the grocery store or usage of the freezer. But trust me it will save you money and save you from questionable smelling meats come meal time. If you are going to be having shrimp on day 3 and 6 there is no need to buy the shrimp on the prep day because they will just be sitting, getting old and funky for 3 days before you even cook them. I usually buy my proteins the day of cooking and then cook them all at once for the week.

Racks on racks on racks!
Racks on racks on racks!

Example: Using the menu from above examples.

Day 3 | Meal C | Shrimp Fried Rice:  I would buy my shrimp on that day to ensure they are as fresh as possible. Then when I cook my dinner that night, I would double up the portion and cook enough for day 3 and 6. I would eat half and cool the other half, cover it properly and store it for an easy reheat on day 6. That way I have cooked shrimp rather than raw shrimp sitting around and it will be safer that way.

If you are worried about food sitting for too many days there is an easy solution, have the Shrimp Fried Rice Day 3 & Day 5 instead, you are a grown up and have the ability to switch the meals around. It is all a guideline, not a set in stone schedule.

Conclusion

These are the types of stacks we enjoy.
These are the types of stacks we enjoy.

Following these 5 tips when cooking in bulk for the week will really save you time, money and pain killers for headaches. They are very simple tips that can even be applied to other situations. Just work smarter, not harder and spend more time enjoying life rather than working. If you find yourself with a ton of free time now because you have implemented these awesome tips head over and check our sponsors Inverted Gear for some Pandariffic gear and head over to Q5 Sports Nutrition and use GOURMET10 for 10% off! Also the word on the street is all of the cool kids are signing up for Grappler Gourmet Weekly, you want to be part of the in crowd don’t you? Eat well, train hard. Oss!



Images: PiecedGoods Ikea Household6diva

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