Once a Week Cooking

Many have written me asking about how the Once a Week Cooking works for me.  I’ll try to do some outlining and examples here.  What I do won’t work for everyone so before you put a lot of effort into it, think about whether it will work for your family.

1.  When I say that I cook on Monday or on Sunday for the entire week, that doesn’t mean that I don’t enter the kitchen the rest of the week.  It means that I do the bulk of it on Monday or Sunday and whatever I do the rest of the week is real quick.

2.  Plan ahead!  You have to know your schedule for the week. You have to know what you’re going to cook the entire week.  Vince teaches classes on Monday and Thursday nights so what we have those nights has to be done and ready to serve by 5:30.  If you’re not going to be home til 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. one night and have to have dinner on the table quickly, plan something that’s quick to heat up.  Planning ahead will keep you on track and you won’t fail.

3.  Don’t deviate!  I’m pretty inflexible when it comes to changing meals.  If not, you may end up spending all day Sunday or Monday in the kitchen and then eating out during the week and having your food and time go to waste.

I plan my meals for weeks in advance and since we eat every meal at home, I try to plan things that will give me leftovers for our lunches.

The first week that we’re going to be home for the full week is October 20  – 26 so here’s a snapshot of my menu for that week.  (Click on the picture to make it larger).

I’ll go through what I would do on Sunday or Monday.  BTW, I’m mostly doing all my cooking on Sunday instead of Monday now.

1.  Season the chickens to be smoked.  Put them in big ziplock bags and stick them in the fridge. If we’re going to eat one chicken, I’ll cook 2 and use the second one for either chicken salad, gumbo, enchiladas, etc.

2.  I will not make the green bean casserole but I’ll get all the canned ingredients out and set them on the corner of the counter.

3.  I buy the cole slaw in a bag already made so there’s nothing to do with that.

4.  Sunday evening, I’ll get the bread started because it takes about 24 hours for it to make.

That’s all I have to do for Monday’s dinner.  Monday just after lunch, I’ll put the chickens in the smoker.  About an hour before dinner, I’ll mix up the green bean casserole, stick it in the oven; stir up the cole slaw with dressing, stick it in the fridge til time to eat; bake the bread so it comes out when we’re ready to eat.

5.  For the pork roast, I bake it for several hours, then I let it cool a bit, slice the meat and make the gravy.  So, on Sunday, I’ll bake it.  Then I’ll stick it in the fridge and on Tuesday, I’ll take it out, slice it and make the gravy.

6.  Wash and dry the sweet potatoes.  Wrap in foil.

7.  Cook the rice (and I’ll cook enough for the gumbo later in the week so I only have to wash the rice cooker once!).

8.  Mix up the broccoli casserole but don’t bake it yet.  Stick it in the fridge.

Tuesday afternoon, I’ll stick the potatoes in the oven; later I’ll turn the oven down a bit and add the broccoli casserole.  I’ll slice the roast and make the gravy.  Right before we eat, I’ll stick the rolls in the oven.

9.  I’ll make the roux for the gumbo.  Add the onions, bell pepper, sausage, etc.  I’ll let it simmer for a few hours and after the chicken comes out of the smoker and cools, I’ll pick it off the bone, and dump the meat into the gumbo.  By now, it’s all cool and I can stick it in the fridge.

Wednesday, all I have to do is heat the gumbo, adjust the seasonings, heat the rice, stir the dressing into the broccoli slaw (which I buy in a bag).

10.  For Thursday’s pizza, I keep pizza dough and pizza sauce in the fridge.  On Wednesday, I’ll take a package of ground meat out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw.

Thursday morning I’ll take a ball of pizza dough and a container of sauce out of the freezer to thaw.  About an hour before we’re ready to eat, I’ll brown the ground beef, roll out the pizza dough, dump the sauce, cheese, ground beef, turkey pepperoni and black olives on there.  Bake it and make a salad.

11.  For Friday’s grilled steak, I’ll take steak out of the freezer on Thursday night and let them thaw in the fridge.  Sometime Friday I’ll wash the potatoes, wrap them in foil so about 90 minutes before we’re ready to eat, I’ll stick the potatoes in the oven, make the salad and before we’re ready to eat, I’ll grill the steaks and stick frozen Texas Toast in the oven

Saturday, we’ll have leftovers.  We’ll probably have our choice of pork roast, gumbo, taco soup or pizza.  I may make a fresh veggie to go with whatever we choose — maybe mashed potatoes to go with the pork roast.  I’ll take spaghetti sauce and meatballs out of the freezer for tomorrow.

Sundays we always have spaghetti & meatballs.  I make the sauce ahead and keep it in the freezer.  I also keep bags of meatballs in the freezer.  When I make them, I make 100 or more.  All I have to do on Sunday is heat up the sauce, boil the noodles, make a salad and bread.

Does this all make sense?

Here are some of my previous blog posts dealing with how and what I do in the kitchen.

Playing in the Kitchen
Changes in the Kitchen


  1. 5


    Would you adopt us? Just kidding, but you are very inspiring! How do you keep the rice that you make ahead? Whenever I try that it dries up, no matter what kind of container is used.

  2. 6


    Wow. That is a lot of variety. I think I would have a lot of leftovers. We used to cook on Sat and Sun and then eat leftovers of each twice, leaving us one meal to eat out or make something quick.

  3. 7


    Would you adopt us? And I’m NOT kidding!!! We eat a little lighter at our house, now that the three boys are well out of the nest. I remember those days in the 80s and 90s when the school bus would go by, the front door would open, and I wouldn’t hear, “Hi, Mom, we’re home”. I would hear, “FEED ME!!!”.