Why I'm Loving Cook Once, Eat All Week

The best guide I've seen to easy weekly meal planning and prep!

In all my years of blogging (this is actually my third blog), I don’t think I’ve ever dedicated an entire post to just one cookbook. But Cassy Joy Garcia’s new book Cook Once, Eat All Week has blown my mind.

I’ve come up with solutions to meal planning and prep so many times I can’t even count. But they all last a few weeks and then they are just like the others - a time suck. And often expensive as well, but mostly a time suck. Cassy’s new book - and I waited a full six weeks in before posting this to make sure it was the real deal - is the furthest thing from a time or money suck.

For a quick description, in case you haven’t heard me fangirl about it all over Instagram, Cook Once, Eat All Week is 26 weeks worth of meals where Cassy and team have done the meal planning (three meals per week, see more below), the grocery list making, and planned the prep. I didn’t realize how much of a time suck planning the prep was, in addition to the actual prep, until I started using this book.

Each week is organized around one protein, one vegetable, and one starch or starchy veg. This reduces prep time and costs, but I promise the three meals are so varied in their flavor profiles (does saying that make me a food blogger now?) you won’t even really notice you’re eating many of the same foods.

What I love about Cook Once, Eat All Week

If you want more than just “I love this book, everyone needs a copy”, here you go!

  • The mental part of planning and prepping is done for me. I used to dread writing out our menu each week because it would take forever to come up with the meals and find/write the groceries. I tried making lists of our favorite 20 meals, doing a month long menu, having repeating weekly menus, everying. But nothing really made this task easier. Now, I hand P the book and tell her to pick a week that looks good. It takes me about 20 minutes to add our breakfast, lunch, and snack items to the shopping list from the book and input the order on Instacart. Such a time saver and I look forward to doing it on Friday afternoons instead of dreading it.

  • The physical part of prep, the actual doing it, has never taken more than 90 minutes. I am someone who spent years spending HOURS on Sunday prepping food, then got so burned out I have basically refused weekend food prep for the last few years. I love that I can do it one shot, knowing I’ll be done in less than 90, sometimes right around one hour (you may have to plan ahead to cook protein overnight in a crockpot or something, but not hands on). Or, I can piecemail it throughout the weekend as I’m doing other work in the kitchen.

  • The ingredients and cooking are simple. The fanciest thing you’re going to have to buy is a bottle of coconut aminos. There is nothing crazy expensive in this book, or something that you’ll use one tablespoon of and find it again in five years. Some weeks I’m really surprised

  • The portion sizes are generous. The meals are designed for four adults and I’d say they still verge on large for that. Which is great, because leftovers! I find that if Greg is out of town a few nights, the three meals are all we need for the week. Sometimes they even cover my lunches, too. At most I add one additional dinner meal to our menu, though we do have a standing takeout date night on Fridays and sometimes grab lunch out on the weekend as well.

  • The recipes are flexible. While taco casserole sounds delicious, I know what is going to happen when I put it on my kids’ plates. A whole lot of nothing. So instead, I work with the recipes to use them in a way my family will eat them, and the recipes are flexible enough to support that. Which means a lot of times a dish that is meant to be a one pan meal becomes a bowl for Greg and I and the separate ingredients for the kids.

  • You learn as you go. I learn Cassy’s style the more I cook and I also know what works for us and what doesn’t. For example, we always have rice leftover and I find the rice based dishes a little rice heavy. So now I know to just make less rice these weeks and use less in the recipes.

And a Few Things I Don’t Love

It wouldn’t be an honest review if I didn’t share a few things that I don’t love.

  • Fewer veggies than we are used to eating. In general, the recipes include one veggie and sometimes one of the three recipes includes only protein and a starch. To supplement, I usually add plain greens (like arugula) and some salad fixings (romaine and some easy salad veggies - or just leftover veggies in the fridge) to my shopping list and if a meal feels like it needs more veggies I have something ready in the fridge.

Well, I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes and can’t come up with another. So there you go.

Who It’s For, and Who It’s Maybe Not For

So not every book is for everyone and that’s definitely true for cookbooks.

  • If you are a large family or good with leftovers, I recommend. I love leftovers (like LOVE love), so even though our family can’t eat every meal in full, I see this is a plus. But I know some people don’t care for leftovers. If that’s the case, and your family can’t eat 4 (large) adult sized portions per meal, then you likely will end up wasting some food.

  • If you are omnivores, I think this book does a great job of mixing up meats, veggies, and starches (though as I said above a few recipes can be low on the veg). I would not recommend this book to a vegetarian or vegan family - I just don’t think you’d be able to swap out the animal proteins that easily.

  • If you want quick meals that require almost zero brain power and minimal prep, this is for you. If you want gourmet meals with tons of variety, you may find that the recipes are a little basic (a huge plus in my book, but again I know not everyone is looking for the same thing I am), and that the same protein could feel repetitive.

May 2019 Book Review

May was a fun month for reading! Every book was a random selection, whether from the library or Audible - nothing came from a list or a recommendation. I got lucky, because usually my random library selections end up going back after a chapter or two.

I’m still really amazed I’m keeping up with my intention of four books a month. I have a few more right now that are more than half way, so I’m starting to wonder if this might be the year I finally read 52 books? But I also know there are still 7 months that can totally get away from me, so I’ll just stick with being happy I’m currently on track and have made good on my intention to scroll less in the evenings and during downtime.

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May Books

The Last Romantics - A random library selection that I really enjoyed. It’s one of those novels that follows a family over years, lots of characters, but when done well it’s easy to keep track of everyone and their stories. This follows four siblings who lose their father early in childhood through adulthood. Some of it is a bit far fetched but overall I enjoyed the characters and

The Bride Test - Pretty much all my fiction lately has been random grabs from the library and I’m on a roll with good ones. Loved this book, especially once I found out more about the author and read her acknowledgements at the end of the book. A mom worried her autistic son might never marry brings home a trial bride from her recent trip to Vietnam. It sounds cheesy, but I really enjoyed it.

When the Air Hits Your Brain - Another random memoir selection from Audible and I loved it. Just enough medial speak to keep me interested without boring me (think Grey’s Anatomy level), but mostly heartfelt stories from a man looking back on his years as a neurosurgeon resident. It’s a job where you know you are going to lose people - I can’t even imagine. From babies, to pregnant mamas, to veterans, and everything in between. I cried, I laughed, like I said it was a random pick but I really loved it.

Normal People - I grabbed this from the library’s Peak Rewards when I saw the author was born in 1991 - I’m doing the summer reading bingo challenge and one of the squares is “published when author was under 35”. There is really no telling how I select books these days. Anyway, it was okay. A tale of the relationship, a messy mix of friendship and romance between two high schoolers who become university students. As I’ve mentioned and am no longer ashamed of, I tend to prefer my fiction be more “beach read”, so while I did enjoy the story it just wasn’t my favorite book.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out:

April 2019 reads
March 2019 reads
February 2019 reads
January 2019 reads

I would love to know what you are reading in the comments - some of my favorite books have been recommendations from friends!

April 2019 Book Review

It’s May 19th and I’m finally updating my April books, but better late than never?

We had a lot of plane time last month, and a lot of sickness, so there was a lot of time to read.

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April Books

Love Warrior - I love a good memoir and this didn’t disappoint. I’ve followed Glennon Doyle for quite some time on Instagram and learning a bit about her personal life and how her family evolved to where it is today was interesting and at time inspiring, watching her learn to heal herself before working on relationships with others.

Shoe Dog - This is Phil Knight’s memoir, but I’d definitely rate it in top three business books I’ve read, if not the top. It starts a little slow (I actually bought it on Audible in mid 2018 and stopped listening at some point) but about 1/3 of the way in it became an incredibly motivating and inspiring story. Basically, show up and work really hard without making excuses, and good things might happen.

Maid - When I get a new Audible credit I often scan the memoirs section until something catches me eye, and that’s how I found Maid. The story itself was captivating, about a young mom trying to survive as a house cleaner, but it also left me thinking about how I view the cost of labor. Cheap labor comes at the expense of some of the most vulnerable humans.

Nine Perfect Strangers - Loved this one! It was a great pre-bedtime fiction read. Kept me entertained - it follows several couples/singletons during a week at a health spa . Usually I don’t love books with a big cast of characters, but in this one it was easy to keep track of everyone and just enjoyable.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out:

March 2019 reads
February 2019 reads
January 2019 reads

I would love to know what you are reading in the comments - some of my favorite books have been recommendations from friends!

March 2019 Book Review

Such a mix of books this month. And six of them! The power of being intentional about reading before bed, reading things I enjoy and skipping books that I just can’t get into, and a weekend away from the kids.

I bought a new business book that I just could not get into, so only read about two chapters of it and not sure I’ll ever finish it. This is why I usually check business type books out of the library first - I find I have a 50/50 chance of wanting to continue on after the first few chapters. But I did enjoy a handful of memoirs and fiction this month, so overall it was a win.

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March Books

How to Walk Away - Love this one! The story of a woman who faces a crushing blow just when everything seems to be lining up perfectly. Loved the characters and the story kept me entertaining and going to bed on time so I could read, which is all I really want from a fiction book.

Boy Erased - My Audible selection this month and I really wanted to like it. It was a random find while searching through memoirs, and I purchased it because I can’t imagine trying to change something fundamental about one of my children. I thought I would get really wrapped up in the story, but I just didn’t. I think it was more about the way the book was written - it jumped around in time - that made it hard to listen to versus read. I couldn’t quite keep track of what was going on and if we were in pre-conversion time or post. I’ve never said this before, but I think I might watch the recent movie because I would love to understand the story more.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love - I grabbed this off the Peak Perks shelf at the library (new books that you can’t put a hold on) and ended up really enjoying it. It’s the story of a writer who learns out in her early 50s that her father is not actually her bio father. I love how she jumped straight into the story; the memoir is one part exploring her biological family and one part her exploring what her life means if what she held true for 50+ years is not actually true.

The Lost Husband - I reserved this from the library after enjoying How to Walk Away (same author). And I loved it, also. Simple story but with characters I wanted to see happy and again, nice basic fiction that I love reading before bed. I’ll definitely check out more Katherine Center books for enjoyable fiction reads.

A Woman in the Window - I grabbed this at the airport on my way to leadership meetings with Beautycounter and I have mixed feelings. I was entertained and it definitely wasn’t super predictable for me. BUT, I’ve been having some major anxiety issues lately and in hindsight I probably should not have picked up a thriller right now. If you enjoy this type of book, it was very much like The Girl on the Train.

This Will Only Hurt A Little - I’ve been listening to this book for a few months, because after buying it on Audible I quickly realized it was not safe for kids, so it took some time to finish as I’m usually in the car with the kids. I loved Busy Philipps’ take on pretty much everything from motherhood to marriage to work. There are some … mature … stories and she drops the f word basically every paragraph, so might be best to keep this one to yourself. I was highly entertained for most of the book.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out:

February 2019 read
January 2019 reads

What have you read recently! I don’t have anything on hold at the library right now and would love a few suggestions. We have a flight to Boston later this month (with the kids) and I’m pretending I’m going to get a bunch of reading time. While walking the dog yesterday I found maybe my best Little Free Library find yet, a copy of Glennon Doyle’s Love Warrior, that I’m excited to start tonight.

February 2019 Book Review

February was the month of… I don’t even know. Snowbound, sickness, living in a house with no furniture while snowbound and with sick kids. It wasn’t super fun, but I did stick with my reading intentions and finished a handful of books. Reading was the one thing that I felt like I had control over this month, so I hung on to it for dear life.

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The Water Cure - This was a random grab at the library and I don’t even know how to describe it. When I got it home and actually read the book jacket, I wasn’t super interested. It’s about three sisters living in a deserted area with their parents who are saving them from the degeneration of the world. I started it anyway and got pulled in. But it was so odd. Sort of dystopian, I guess? It was not my favorite, but I was intrigued enough to read the first 75% just to see what was going to happen. I ended up finishing the last 25% mostly by skimming just because I wanted a basic idea of how it wrapped up. Not on my recommended list.

The Dinner List - I believe this was a recommendation from someone, and my favorite book of the year, so far. The book flips chapters between unfolding a couple’s relationship and the couple attending a dinner party with a few other guests. This book is exactly what I want in fiction - easy to read (I read before bed), but entertaining and a plot that has me looking forward to getting off my computer and going to bed.

The Big Leap - I’ve had this book for years and I’ve started it many times but not been able to get into it. Lately I’ve seen a bunch of friends talk about it, so I forced myself to get a little farther in before quitting. I ended up finishing it, and I definitely took away a few solid personal development nuggets. But it was not the epiphany generating book for me that it has been for some friends. To quickly summarize, it’s about helping you determine ways you might unconsciously be holding yourself back from living your biggest life.

My Story (by Elizabeth Smart) - My Audible selection this month and I loved it. I remember the story well from news coverage, so hearing her tell what went on with her captors for the nine months they held her was fascinating. I also just felt inspired by how resilient she is and how she’s made such a beautiful life for herself. Bonus is that it was read by her, which are my favorite Audible memoirs.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out my January 2019 reads.

What did you read this month?!

January 2019 Book Review

Contrary to my personality, this year I’m trying to be more intentional versus goal oriented. I want to be thoughtful about how I spend my time, but not because I’m solely focused on an end result. I’m practicing this both in my life and my business, and one month in, I love it.

One of my big focuses in 2019 is my health. I’m sure many people assume that means a weight loss goal. While it would be a lie if I said I didn’t want to lose a few pounds, that’s not what this is about. I want to work on my anxiety, sleep, online habits, energy, gut health and many other aspects of both mental and physical health.

So what does this have to do with a January book review? For me, being intentional about reading means that I am spending less time online (you can’t scroll IG and read a book at the same time, I’ve tried), getting off my computer earlier to go to bed (the key to this is a really good bedtime book), and I’m sure other habits that I haven’t yet noticed.

I set an intention to read two fiction books (this is primarily what I read before bed), one business or personal growth book (usually in the mornings or when I have down moments during the day), and listen to one audiobook (I’m less likely to glance at my phone at red lights if I have a good book going).

However, I have no goal of reading 48 books this year. I know that it probably is not going to happen and I really don’t care if it does. But I was surprised to read all four in January just by being intentional with my time and choosing to pick up a book more often.

I love hearing book recommendations from others so I thought I’d do a quick post each month to share what I read and what I thought of the books. And this will also keep me committed to reading at least something every month!

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation - I grabbed this from the Peak Picks shelf at the library and thought it would be a 365 day memoir (of which I am obsessed) but it was not. It is a fictional book about an UES young woman and I just could not find anything to love about the characters. Maybe I missed something (it does have a 3.75 star rating on Goodreads), but I personally wouldn’t recommend it.

Fangirl - I grabbed this one off the YA shelf while picking books for my kids. Note: February, be more intentional about what I’m actually reading. It was fine. Not amazing, but entertaining and I looked forward to reading it before bed each night. I enjoyed Eleanor and Park more , also by Rainbow Rowell, but definitely recommend this if you enjoy young adult fiction.

The Power of Habit - This book started out so slow. It took me six months of a page or two here and there to make it through the first few chapters. But the meat of the book was really interesting. I loved learning how businesses and brands use our habits to their advantage and I also took way tips for how to change my own habits and look for keystone habits in my life.

Born a Crime - I listened to this on Audible. I’ve found that memoirs are my favorite for audio books. I don’t pay enough attention to fiction and I want to mark up personal growth / business books. But memoirs are perfect for listening while I drive all over Seattle. Anyway, this was all about Trevor Noah’s life growing up in South Africa during and after Apartheid. I really enjoyed it and it opened my eyes to what Apartheid really was, not the very limited knowledge I had of it.

Have you read anything good lately? I would love your suggestions! Need suggestions yourself? I record all my books on Goodreads.