I love cooking every day of the week. I often start thinking of dinner around 11am, not because I am looking forward to eating – although I am – but mostly because I am looking forward to pottering around in the kitchen! There are many busy days when it is the only time I dedicate to something creative.
But as much as I love cooking, I love even more when I have thought ahead enough to make things easier for myself. By this, I mean batch cooking or just plain old meal prep. Tired, Monday night Nathalie regularly thanks Sunday Nathalie for having thought of making double portions of roast chicken with prunes and olives. (You MUST try this recipe by the way. It’s amazing.)
I have read quite a few articles by moms who prepare food on the weekend to help them stick to their meal plan during the week. It saves them time on weekdays, helps the whole family to snack on carrot sticks instead of crisps, and makes for a beautiful Instagram photo.
But while the idea is similar here, today’s article is not about learning how to prepare the week to that extent. I wanted to give you some ideas of (mostly small) cooking tasks to do on the weekend to make it easier to feel motivated to cook on weekdays or bring a packed lunch to work. If the food is already half prepared, there are better chances you’ll finish cooking it instead of ordering sushi.
- Boil a big batch of lentils, kidney beans or chick peas and put them in a plastic container in the fridge. Later, you can whizz them into soup, mop them up with crusty bread or add them to a hearty salad for extra protein and staying power.
- Mix together a super quick vinaigrette in an old jam jar that you’ll keep in the fridge door. If you have a delicious salad dressing on hand, chances are you’ll eat more salad! My go to vinaigrette is this: 6 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, a dash of herbes de Provence and a teaspoon of mustard.
- Hard-boil a few eggs. They will always come in handy for salads, sandwiches or a high-protein snack. Just remember when you boiled them by writing on the shells with a ball point pen, so they don’t go bad before you get around to eating them.
- Boil some potatoes that you can quickly sauté during the week when you’re in need of comfort food.
- Make a big pan of caramelised onions: peel and chop 6 yellow onions and fry on medium high heat with some salt and olive oil for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every few minutes. The sweet jam always delights and surprises me: who would have thought that sharp, crunchy onions could turn into such a delicious mixture with so little assistance? The jam gives flavour to just about everything, but my favourite way to eat caramelised onions is with cheddar cheese and arugula in a sandwich.
- Peel and chop some onions and/or garlic to be used in everything all week long. Make sure the container you store them in is airtight though!
- When you cook (whether over the weekend or during the week), double the quantities. You can freeze the leftovers for later on, but I personally put them in plastic containers in the fridge and take them to work or polish them off within a few days.
- Mix together about 150g of cottage cheese with the same weight of canned sardines, bones and oil removed. Add chopped green olives, capers, a squeeze of lemon juice and some pepper. I love this because I can have it with crackers and salad if I come home late and RAVENOUS. It is also good to have for lunch with wholewheat bread and vegetable sticks.
- While you’re at it, prepare some vegetable sticks! Carrots, cucumber, pepper or celery are all great. They’ll be a healthy snack or could also be used in a stir fry with some soy sauce and chili flakes.
- I rarely buy big bunches of fresh herbs, but if you do, I highly recommend washing them and storing them in one go so you’ll actually use them and not them rot in the crisper. There’s a great article on the subject here.
- Make a big batch of soup with anything and everything you have in your vegetable drawer. Homemade soup is so comforting in the colder months, and as it is all vegetables I take it as an excuse to have lots of nice cheese and bread with it.
- Check your fruit bowl and save anything that looks like it might go bad before you eat it. You can make applesauce, or bake some bananas with a drizzle of honey. I also sometimes cook forgotten peaches with butter and vanilla sugar on the stove.
That just about sums up the list! Do you have anything else to add?