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.

Super Simple Hummus

We love hummus around here.

My best trick for getting my kids to eat and enjoy veggies is to serve them with fun dips. I typically make one dip or sauce per week to put in their lunches with raw veggies, and hummus is definitely in the rotation.

You can easily buy it (I think the Whole Foods’ hummus is delicious and I’m not a fan at all of the Trader Joe’s one), but making it is really simple if you have a food processor.

Hummus Making Tips

  • Use canned beans or cook your own first. I’m mostly a can person at this point, but if I am making it from scratch I cook garbanzo beans / chick peas in the Instant Pot for 30 minutes (3 cups of water per 1 cup of dry bean). If I’ve soaked them overnight before cooking, I drop the cook time to 10 minutes.

  • Beans cause tummy trouble? Try soaking raw chickpeas for 24 hours before cooking. Or try the Eden Organic brand (I find these at Whole Foods), which have added kombu seaweed to the can that is supposed to help with digestion.

  • Want the smoothest hummus you’ve ever had? Remove the “skin” from each bean. Yes, this will take about 5-10 minutes per can, but I promise it is SO worth it. The consistency is so much smoother than when they are left on. I sort of wish I hadn’t learned this trick last year, because now I just can’t make it and leave them on.

  • Jazz it up by adding garlic (1 to 2 cloves minced), roasted red peppers, a jalapeño, or lemon peel / extra lemon juice. Right now my kids are pretty much into hummus as plain as it gets, so I haven’t been experimenting much, but I’d love to know what you put in yours!

Super Simple Hummus.jpg

Super Simple Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, or 2 cups cooked, “skins” removed if you choose!

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp tahini

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 3/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add chick peas, lemon juice, tahini and salt to the bowl of a food processor.

  2. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil.

  3. Process for about 15 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  4. Turn processor back on and drizzle another 1/4 cup through the pusher, if yours has a hole. If not, slowly add while processor is running.

  5. Process for about 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.

  6. Continue to run and add olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Ready to make lunches and snacks a no-brainer?

Get my list of 50+ foods for quick bento box lunches and snacks!

    I won't send you spam. EVER. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Powered By ConvertKit

    Mini Muffin Round Up

    We are big fans of mini muffins over here and have been for quite some time. Why mini?

    Mostly because my kids don’t need a full size muffin nor will they eat the whole thing most of the time. So rather than making a dozen full size muffins and composting half each time we eat them, I get 24-30 mini muffins that all get eaten.

    If they want more than one, great, I just give them two. Or three. I’m not cutting back on muffin eating, just on my baking efforts going to waste.

    We go through a lot of muffins. They are a great carb for breakfast (I’ll usually add eggs or sausage and a fresh fruit), a super portable snack, and only take a few seconds to go from freezer to eating, so work great in a Kid Needs Food Immediately emergency. I try to make one batch a week so that we always have a good selection in the freezer.

    Baking and Storage Tips

    • To make mini muffins, all you need is a mini muffin pan. There is nothing else different about minis than regular muffins. I currently have this silicon mold (it needs to be placed on a baking sheet - it’s not firm itself) and a non stick mini muffin pan I’ve been meaning to swap out for a while. I’m thinking about replacing it with this ceramic one. I suggest having two as most recipes will make more than 24 mini muffins, especially if the original recipe makes 18 regular sized muffins, like a few of our favorites do.

    • I use normal size muffin recipes and bake for just a few minutes less than the given baking time. I’ve been making them for so long I just eyeball doneness now, but when getting started maybe try 2 minutes less than the bake time, or start with the lower end if they give a range. The cook time is not all that different.

    • Once cooled, place muffins on a baking sheet and pop in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. Then store them in an airtight container for the freezer. The pre-freeze keeps them from sticking together. I have one large Stasher Bag that fits about 20 mini muffins and I also reuse ziplocks for muffin storage.

    • Muffins only last in our freezer for about a month at most with how fast we eat them, but I’ve never had issues with freezer burn using the method above.

    • To defrost, place in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. Or add them to a lunch bag frozen and they should be defrosted by lunch time.

    • Because the muffins end up in the freezer and I don’t want to keep track of exact ingredients, I never use nuts in our mini muffins. Our preschool is nut-free, as are many of the play spaces we frequent, so just not using nuts makes it much more simple when it comes to packing snacks and lunches.

    • To add protein, I’ll often add a few scoops of collagen peptides to the dry mix. I haven’t ever had it change the consistency of the muffin and anything to keep my kids full for just a few more minutes is worth it.

    • I make all of the recipes below gluten free by replacing with a one for one flour (our favorite is Namaste, which is also at Costco) and dairy free by subbing coconut milk, either from a can, homemade, or carton.

    MINI MUFFIN ROUND UP.png















    Favorite Recipes

    You’ll notice that most of these come from Super Healthy Kids. The site is a great place to find kid-friendly recipe ideas and so far we’ve yet to try a muffin we don’t like from them. Rather than finding more recipe sources, I just keep going back, because if it’s not broken…

    • Sweet Spinach Muffins - we call these “frog muffins” in our house and the kids love them. They won’t touch spinach on it’s own, but they know it’s in these muffins and still eat them. I’m sure the honey helps.

    • Whole Wheat Applesauce Muffins - we skip the nut crumble on top (see above) and the kids still love these. They are also super simple to make and my daughter can now do most of it herself, with some help on picking the right measuring spoons and cups. And obviously the oven.

    • Healthy Zucchini Oat Muffins - we just tried this one because I had a few zucchini that needed to be used. I wasn’t sure how it would go over - my kids are not big on oats. Which is why I also had oats that needed to be used. But they loved them! I do find that these need to be fulled cooled before you remove them from the pan. Maybe because the zucchini makes them extra moist?

    • Healthy Lemon Blueberry Muffins - I made these for the first time when I had extra blueberries that had to be frozen, now that my 4 year old is no longer willing to eat frozen blueberries. I mix a little lemon juice in with coconut milk for a buttermilk replacement. And I’ll probably try swapping the sugar for honey or maple syrup in the future.

    • Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins - these are really tasty, but I don’t make them often anymore as I’ve been trying to simplify and only keep one type of flour around. These call for cassava flour, but I think I’ll try them with our regular GF flour and see what happens. They are the most dessert-like of the muffins listed… so sweet and tasty.

    Ready to make lunches and snacks a no-brainer?

    Get my list of 50+ foods for quick bento box lunches and snacks!

      I won't send you spam. EVER. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Powered By ConvertKit




      Instant Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup

      I’m not a huge fan of green peppers and a few months back I found myself with a handful of them in the fridge. I had forgotten to edit a previous Imperfect Product box and the peppers had been in the fridge for awhile and needed to be eaten quickly. Out of a desire to disguise them in something that would make them taste less green pepperish, I came up with an Instant Pot soup. It’s turned out to be delicious. I’ll caveat this one that my kids don’t really eat anything that combines food, so I usually make this for lunch for me to eat all week.

      sd8Ui2ndRpy3nDG8%2BekRKA.jpg

      Ingredients

      • 4 bell peppers, diced

      • 1 onion, diced

      • 2 cloves garlic

      • 1 lb ground meat of choice

      • 1 tbsp Italian dressing

      • 1 tsp salt

      • 1/2 tsp pepper

      • 14oz can diced tomatoes

      • 3 cups broth

      • 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice OR 1 cup uncooked white rice

      Instructions

      1. Sauté onions and peppers in fat of choice until tender.

      2. Add garlic and let cook 30 seconds.

      3. Add beef and cook until mostly brown.

      4. Add spices, tomatoes, and broth.

      5. If using uncooked white rice, add now.

      6. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.

      7. If using cauliflower rice, add after cooking and give it a minute or two to heat through.