3 Rules Every Home Cook Should Follow + Free Weekly Dinner Menu

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I love cooking, but I realize that’s not the case for everyone. Some people struggle with the meal planning and prep, others hate grocery shopping, and most people hate the clean up. I totally get it, so I’m here to help where I can.

At a minimum I cook dinner 5 days a week, but most weeks I cook everyday. I wanted to share a few tips with you to help make weekday meal prep and cooking a little easier.

Only care about the weekly menu? Scroll down!

1. Plan Ahead

If you plan to use chicken, beef, or pork from the freezer in a recipe, I recommend at least 36 hours of defrosting time in the refrigerator (seafood typically defrosts in 24 hours or less). No one likes to open the refrigerator to find that the main ingredient for the recipe is still completely frozen.

Consider making parts of the recipe ahead of time. If you’re making a meal that includes a baked potato you can always bake the potato a day ahead and re warm it when you’re ready to eat.

2. Read the Entire Recipe First

It’s important to read the recipe before you start cooking to make sure you don’t have any surprises. This helps you know how the dish is made, what methods you need, or if something needs to rest or marinate for a certian period of time.

3. Start Practicing “Mise en place”

Mise en place means, “Putting everything in it’s place”… and I like to translate that to, “Prep all your ingredients before you start cooking.”

Collect everything you need for your recipe and place it on your prep space (kitchen counter, island, or table). From there, cut, chop, and dice any ingredients BEFORE you start cooking. Once you have anything ready, THEN you can begin cooking. I know that it can seem tedius but it helps you confirm that you have everything you need for the recipe and it means that once you start cooking… cooking is the only thing that you have to worry about.

This Week’s Menu

I know that figuring out what to cook every week can be hard, so I want to help make that process a little bit easier. I’ve provided you with 6 menu ideas and links to the recipes. All you need to do is write down the ingredients and do the grocery shopping.

Each day includes additional notes, tips, and recommendations to help you prep the meals. Unless noted, all meals are 4 servings.


Sunday

Takeout. Consider giving a new restaurant a try. If you’re local to metro Atlanta check out these local favorites.


[Meatless] Monday

Total Time from Start to Finish: Approximately 45 minutes.

The soup recipe serves 2 as a “main” dish. I recommend doubling the recipe if serving 4 adults.

Notes and Recommendations: The soup recipe calls for burbon however this can be omitted from the recipe. If you’d like to pair this recipe with a more substainsial protien it pairs well with grilled shrimp or roasted pork loin.

Meal Prep Tips: The brussels sprouts and the croutons cook on the same temperature in the oven. Cook the brussels sprouts as you’re preparing the soup.


Tuesday

Total Time from Start to Finish: Approximately 25 minutes.

The carbonara recipe serves 2. It’s easily doubled to serve 4.

Notes and Recommendations: The recipe does not call for peas but I typically steam (in the microwave) 1/4 cup per serving and stir them into the pasta just before serving.


Wednesday

Total Time from Start to Finish: Approximately 45 minutes to an hour (about half of this time is hands off).

Notes and Recommendations: Please note that the recipe calls for 16 ounces of FROZEN Green Beans. The green beans do not need to be defrosted ahead of time. You can use previously frozen or fresh salmon in this recipe. If you use frozen salmon, be sure to move it to the refrigerator at least a day ahead so that it can defrost fully.

Meal Prep Tips: It’s important to start prepping and cooking the sweep potatoes before moving on to the salmon. By starting the sweet potatoes first it insures all components of the recipe finish cooking around the same time.


Thursday

Chicken Taco Filling... Add your favorite type of tortilla (corn, flour, or crunchy corn) and your favorite toppings to your grocery list.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 10 mintues of active time, 3+ hours in a crockpot.

Recipe makes 6-8 servings. It freezes well and is great for leftovers.

Notes and Recommendations: I’ve only provided the recipe for the taco filling. Purchase your favorite type of tortillas and toppings. I love pickled red onions and cilantro.


Friday

Total Time from Start to Finish: Approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

The french fry recipe serves 2. The recipe is easily doubled.

Notes and Recommendations: It’s Friday! No need to stress over this meal. If you don’t want to make french fries from scratch, don’t. Buy a bag of frozen french fries fromt the grocery store and call it a day! The burger recipe calls for potato rolls and ground chuck. The recipe will work just as well with regular ground beef and any type of burger buns.

Meal Prep Tips: If you’re making your french fries from scratch that’s the first thing you’ll want to prep and start cooking since they take the most time. Once the fries are in the oven then you can start on the burgers.


Saturday [Splurge]

Saturday Splurge is a recipe that uses ingredients that you might not typically keep in your pantry. If you don’t want to cook on Saturday, then don’t. Go grab some takeout and support a local small business!

Total Time from Start to Finish: Approximately 20-25 minutes.

The recipe serves 2. The recipe is easily doubled.

Notes and Recommendations: It’s important to buy Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna for this recipe. I purchase mine from Aldi. If you don’t like raw tuna, you can sear the tuna before following the recipe. The recipe also calls for short grain rice — it will taste just a good with regular white or brown rice if that’s all you have at home (no need to go out and buy special rice for this).

Meal Prep Tips: You can use white sesame seeds in this recipe. Make sure you move your frozen fish to the refrigerator the day before so that it can fully defrost.

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