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This is how I spend my Sundays

Last Sunday I did something I’ve been threatening to do for years, something that required extreme heat, something that required specialized utensils, something completely bizarre and unimaginable which took an hour and 15 minutes.

I cooked all my dinners for the week.

Lately I’ve been so hungry for dinner when I come home that I haven’t been willing to wait 20-30 minutes to cook something healthy and wholesome and all that crap. I’ve been eating TV dinners or stopping at the grocery to buy overpriced sushi. A week ago Sunday I noticed my fridge contained a couple of zucchini and yellow squash in the fresher drawer in danger of going bad, a bag of fish fillets I’d thawed out several days ago, and a chicken breast I’d been meaning to grill for days. “Crap!” I thought. This stuff was either going to go bad or kill me when I did eat it if I didn’t cook it soon. So, I decided to get a little crazy and try a new strategy – I cooked three dinners all at once.

The fish fillets were baking in the oven while I made a stir-fry on the oven top and cooked the chicken breast on the George Foreman grill on the counter. Amazingly, I did not set off my smoke alarm or burn the zucchini. Everything came out fine, smelled delicious, and was promptly scuttled into Tupperware containers and stuffed in the fridge.

Every day last week I came home, zapped a plate in the microwave and ate a home-cooked meal within minutes of arrival. It was almost like having a wife. The experiment has gone so well that now I’m going to try to do this every week. It saves me time planning a meal every night and keeps my stomach from grumbling too loudly at me. Plus, I can’t talk myself out of a good meal by claiming I’m too tired to cook. However, I’m going to need a lot more Tupperware.

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54 Comments

healthy-me • June 11, 2008 at 8:26 am

That reminds me a lot of myself. I like to cook meals in the double ammounts and then wether eat the second portion the next day or freeze it. It really saves me from ordering a piza.

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Helen • June 11, 2008 at 8:26 am

This is something I have done for years, first because I was running a teenager around many evenings and now because my husband works several nights a week. I don’t have wholesome food prepared, I will eat crap since I’m home alone. (You know the whole “no one is looking” syndrome, right?) There are simply no excuses if it’s all prepared, and it saves money too!

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Eileen • June 11, 2008 at 8:26 am

I use Ziploc containers for this – you can get a HUGE box of ‘em at Costco for like $12 or something …

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fd • June 11, 2008 at 8:39 am

I’m so impressed! Go you! Have been meaning to do this for years, but usually just get too tempted by other options, or get so excited cooking on the Sunday that it takes me all day and puts me off it forever. A little like overexcising my enthusiasm right out of me…

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barbara • June 11, 2008 at 9:15 am

Wow, I could not agree with you more; when I come home hungry and there’s nothing ready to grab and eat, I eat the wrong things. And going grocery shopping at that point, in an attempt to eat well, often ends in disaster; I give in to temptation in the store. If I have stuff cooked, AND if I actually make a plan — sometimes I even create my actual dinner plate before leaving in the morning — I tend to stick to my commitments to myself. The one thing I have “tweaked” a bit is, waiting until I get home, sometimes, to cook the fish part of my dinners; I find fish doesn’t hold more than a day or so once cooked, meaning, it’s not as delicious and fresh. So, sometimes I make all the other parts of the meal, including something to snack on for a few minutes after I get home, and I take 20 or so minutes to put the fish on the Foreman Grill or in the oven or whatever. And then I save the second half of it for lunch the next day. It’s a good system.

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ladyloo • June 11, 2008 at 10:08 am

Loved your awesome wife comment. I am the wife – dinner on the table when he gets home, clean underwear in his dresser, light bulbs changed, house maintenance scheduled.

On more than one occasion I have been known to say, “I want a wife!”

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JEM • June 11, 2008 at 10:27 am

I do something similar. When I cook chicken, I cook a bunch and use it all week. One night grilled chicken, one night chicken salad, one night chicken tacos, ect, ect. Since the maiin part of the meal is already cooked its so fast to whip up a dinner. I get home from work every night at 7:30pm so I am always starving too!!

Kudos on the healthy eating even when you are hella busy.

Today is my mil’s b-day and one of her presents is your book. She will love it.

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Karen • June 11, 2008 at 10:33 am

What we want is an old fashioned “housewife” (homemaker if you prefer) like my momma and my little sister, who worked harder than any “working woman” I’ve ever known. No coffee breaks and no knocking off at 5 o’clock.

I’m a wife and I work outside the home so we get home and there is no supper simmering on the stove. Usually just a package of some meat I grabbed out of the freezer that morning and then we have to decide what to do with it.

I’ve thought of preparing more than one meal at a time but the best I ever do is fixing enough to have lunch the following day. Oh well.

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Sally Parrott Ashbrook • June 11, 2008 at 10:33 am

Go PQ! That’s a great strategy to use to get some healthy, homemade meals into you. :)

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Mal • June 11, 2008 at 10:37 am

It IS empowering and awesome but MAN it takes a lot of tupperware! Definitely evens out in the end. I use this idea for lunches, too — and it’s helped me to not eat out for about the past month.

It’s like you’ve become your own fast-food slinger! Except, without the questionable meat and sugar-laden fries.

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Danielle • June 11, 2008 at 10:37 am

That’s a great idea – sometimes I am a keener and do that too, and I’m always proud of myself when I do.

Another thing that works well for me is a slow cooker. It’s a fairly inexpensive appliance, and if you can find 5-10 minutes in the morning to cut a few vegetables (or do it the night before), it’s awesome to come home to a tasty meal and a house that smells great. (Like living with a mom, but without the nagging).

It’s can be a good way to cook healthy too, if you’re getting sick of grilled chicken breasts.

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Christine • June 11, 2008 at 11:06 am

Ah – I do a lot of “once a month cooking” (usually abbreviated as oamc)

I don’t only cook once a month though, I do cook throughout it. But every couple of weeks or so, I’ll make a huuuuuge batch of something, veggie chili, curry or soup or something along those lines, and freeze a lot of it. That way if there’s nothing to cook, I just defrost something in the microwave and there you go, meal!

However, we’re not currently on the type of budget that ordering pizza is really an available option so that makes it easier I guess (in some twisted way)

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Karen • June 11, 2008 at 11:26 am

Slow Cookers! Those things are the best invention ever. They went out of favor for a while, but I think they are back in a big way. It’s almost as good as having a wife :)

Come in in the afternoon and wonder smells greet you as soon as you open the door, and the food is nutritious and wholesome. Can’t beat it.

One of my favorites is to put a pork loin on in the morning with a little salt and pepper and when I get home it ready to shred and cover in bbq sauce. Makes delicious, low fat bbq since pork loin is extremely lean.

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Joan • June 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

Only salt and pepper? Is that it? Do you need anything to keep the meat moist while it is cooking? I’m only asking because it sounds like a really good and simple idea. But pork loin is expensive and I’d rather not learn from my mistakes! Thanks in advance for your help.

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dyan • June 11, 2008 at 11:54 am

Even easier if you use frozen veggies! I will grill 5 chicken breasts, then dump in different mixes of frozen veggies on top (helps cool the chicken) and then a small side of rice.

No need to cook the veggies since they will thaw and be ready to microwave when you are ready.

Easy!

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Tena • June 11, 2008 at 11:58 am

Hey, I used to do this and loved it. I’m gonna try to do it again, too. Bought frozen dinners have so much sodium and just don’t taste that great. Brilliant!

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QueenB • June 11, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Hello Miss Inspiration! I linked into your AH-MAZING blog through FitSugar…and man, what a great find. First of all, congrats, congrats, congrats! I used to weigh 330lbs and after walking 3miles to/from the gym everyday and doing a 1hr step class morning/evening every day, I dropped 100lbs. So, I know how fn hard this crap is!

I loved this post because I find that making meals in advance is like…the best thing ever! Last night I made grilled chicken to put in some tomato sauce for dinner, and cut up the rest to put in a salad for my lunch today. While all that was cooking I chopped up some veggies and canadian bacon to make an egg scramble for my breakfast this morning. It’s great to feel prepared, isn’t it?

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mrs darling • June 11, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Well Im one of those odl fashioned moms who has supper simmering on the stove when my husband gets home but even I notice I do better during the day when I’ve prepared ahead.

I have a love hate thing going on with my George Foreman grill. Im not sure I like it. It flattens everything out or am I doing something wrong? I prefer to slap my meat on the gas grill out on the deck.

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Michelle • June 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm

This is something I need to try. Last night for dinner we had ground turkey breast with taco seasoning and 5 minute rice for dinner. Not good. I mean it tasted okay and was relatively healthy but far from what I’d like to be eating. Maybe I’ll try this soon.

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Kristin • June 11, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I put the pork in the crockpot covered in bbq sauce. Then in 7-8 hours it is moist and covered in delicious bbq flavor. You can pull it apart with a fork.

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Red • June 11, 2008 at 12:36 pm

“It was almost like having a wife.”

hah! I really need to learn to cook. Any advice for someone who doesn’t know the difference between grill and sear?

I got a highly recommended cookbook called “How to Cook Everything” but I’d get lost on even the simplest recipes.

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Kate • June 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Just make sure it is cool when you put it in your tupperware, otherwise you will be adding plastic by-toxins to your lovely healthy food. Better yet, store it in glass containers or metal. (Ok, ok, I am a little anal about plastic. I’m reading your blog and all I can think is “Oh, I hope she’s not using the wrong kind of plastic.” Sorry. I’ll get back to real life now.) Congratulations, btw.

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K • June 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm

It is such a great idea, and something I really ought to do, since like many of us I don’t make good food decisions when hungry.

I have been known to make double quantities of things I’m making from scratch (macaroni, quiche) and freeze them, but never quite get around to doing other things in advance. I think I’m not convinced that I know what’s happening in the upcoming week, and that the food wouldn’t go off in the fridge because I missed a meal or something.

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Erin • June 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm

I do this too! Since I live in an apartment and have a TEENY fridge/freezer, my parents bought me a small freezer that I stick in a corner of my apartment to store all this stuff. It’s great!

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Meagan • June 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Go you. Now that I’m back in the working world, I’m going to have to do the same…or at least try harder.

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Christine in AZ • June 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

You’ve inspired me to get all my meals cooked so I can stop complaining that there’s nothing to eat!!

I hope this isn’t an inappropriate question, but are you going to update your weight this month? Or are you only updating every couple of months….

Take care, Christine

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Laura • June 11, 2008 at 1:48 pm

I do my cooking on Sunday, but I have a bad habit of throwing away those disposable GLAD containers when I’m too lazy to wash them. Guh. They just take too long to hand dry.

Instead, I’ve started stowing my meals in heavy duty freezer bags. They work great at holding the right portions of pasta. And I feel less guilty for throwing them away (even though it’s still bad for the earth and whatnot).

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Karen • June 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I put a little water in the bottom while the roast cooks – sorry I left that out – maybe a half inch to an inch. One reason I don’t cook it in the sauce is that I sometimes take half of the cooked meat to use another way – I save the juice from cooking and use it to cook rice and put the shredded pork in with it – Southern Perlo

:)

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Laura • June 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Oooh, another thing I do is buy those disposable aluminum pans from the grocery store, and stow my meals in those – good for pasta, meats and salads. That way, I only have to clean one storage pan, and they last for a few weeks.

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Karen • June 11, 2008 at 1:51 pm

I keep thinking of things after I’ve posted! Pork loins are expensive – I buy them when they are buy one get one free. You have to have freezer space for that, though and I know some folks don’t have that much.

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Karen • June 11, 2008 at 1:52 pm

Is there a recipe section on this site, PQ? That could be fun :)

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SarahJ • June 11, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I heart my slow cooker.

The only problem is that it seems to cook way more than 1 serving. I like the idea of having my meals cooked to reheat when I come home or eat as lunch – but after 3 days of the same thing I just get bored and don’t want to eat it.

Still, I heart my slow cooker. I actually have two, a big and a little. hence, I can double heart it!

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Karen • June 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I saw one on Amazon that had 3 sizes of crocks that fit in the slow cooker :) That seemed like a good idea.

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Andrew is getting fit • June 11, 2008 at 2:16 pm

I do this every Sunday! The only difference is that I make my lunches for the week. I have my main meal at lunchtime as I prefer to eat just some soup for dinner most evenings and the soup is quick and easy. Grab veggies, blend voila!

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Kalyn • June 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm

When I first started South Beach (before the blog) I was a lot better about doing this, but it really is a time-saver. (I have an ungodly amount of tupperware, but my relatives are starting to shame me into giving it away.)

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Laura N • June 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Can you come cook for me? =) You can also freeze cooked meat and it saves a lot of time. I cook & freeze chicken, turkey, & lean sirloin. I don’t notice any difference in taste from when it’s freshly cooked or if it’s been defrosted.

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Kathy • June 11, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Ha ha… I still live with my parents (I pay rent but everyone involved knows that they aren’t charging me enough) and when I get home from work my dinner is waiting for me. She packs my lunch for me too. My Dad says constantly that I need to get my own wife and quit stealing his.

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G.G. • June 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

I’m like the others. I’ve doing it for about a year and it’s helped immensely. I do supplement the pre-fixed meals during the week with food that’s quick to prep, cook, and clean up after, too–like salmon, or canned beans.

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susan • June 11, 2008 at 4:05 pm

I love the cook-in-advance method of living! Another thing I do is wash up a bunch of veggies (lettuce, celery, carrots etc) and keep them prepped in the fridge. If you put the washed lettuce in a zip-loc bag with a papertowel on the bottom it will keep for 5-6 days. This way I have a small salad almost every day.

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VerseFameBeauty • June 11, 2008 at 6:25 pm

“It was almost like having a wife” – GENIUS.

I’m always thinking that man, life sure would be easier if I had a wife! lmao.

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PastaQueen • June 11, 2008 at 8:45 pm

I was going to post it at the same time as my final headache entry, but I’ve had a headache and haven’t gotten to it :)

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Greta • June 12, 2008 at 1:34 am

Great idea! Wonderful approach! That sort of behavior is the way to maintaining your weight loss for life!

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Tamikka • June 12, 2008 at 1:53 am

This is something that I love to do as well. As for the “Tupperware”, I suggest investing in “Lock and Lock” storage containers. They are awesome!! I’ve had a set for about 6 years that I use EVERY day and they are perfect for exactly what you are doing.

Am loving the book, BTW!!

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Olivia • June 12, 2008 at 8:37 am

My husband is a genius at this. He’ll cook 3 or 4 giant pots of stews, rice sauces (tomato w/chicken, thai coconut) and spaghetti sauce at once. We package them into containers that’ll serve the two of us and store them in the freezer. So, most nights we just need to boil pasta, cook rice (rice cookers rock!) or just heat something up. It’s so great, especially when we have a late evening at the gym.

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Alice • June 12, 2008 at 10:51 am

I am glad you found a system that works for you. It does blow to make such big quantities of food at once, but I love being able to snatch something all-ready and homemade from my fridge every day. I almost never eat out during my work day.

I have bought a million little Gladware containers, they stack very well and don’t utilize too much space. Works for me.

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asithi • June 12, 2008 at 12:26 pm

We do it occasionally. But usually we make enough food for lunch tomorrow since we brown bag our lunches most days of the week.

My co-worker’s wife does it to the extreme though. She makes their lunches for the week on Sunday. He has 4 options – salad, stew, curry, spaghetti. But whatever he picks on Sunday, he will have for lunch for the entire week. So when we see him eating spaghetti on Monday, we know that he will be having spaghetti for lunch until Friday. lol. And he does not want to complain, then he will have to make his own lunch.

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Marian • June 12, 2008 at 2:26 pm

I love lunchinabox.net for inspiration: it’s a site focused on making Japanese-style Bento lunches but of course you can eat them for dinner too. There’s stuff on there about cooking in bulk, freezing, etc. Not ALL the recipes are healthy but there’s lots of good stuff.

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Laura Red • June 12, 2008 at 4:55 pm

George Foreman Grill = Best. Invention. Ever. :-D

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RG • June 13, 2008 at 8:06 am

I approached learning how to cook from 3 angles:

1. easy food that had a high benefit/cost ratio. sandwiches, baked fish, low prep stuff.

2. homey foods that required more complicated steps but were Totally Worth It to eat food like Mom (with calls to Mom that made her feel good)

3. stuff I wanted to learn to cook. That came later, and with time. That’s basically all I have to work on now, things I’ve had at a restaurant or read about and I want to know how to make cheaper and healthier.

One really creative venue is salads – no need to know how to cook, but you do have to learn to think about how to assemble, how to add flavor with less calories, the importance of cutting evenly and of similar shapes…

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RG • June 13, 2008 at 8:12 am

This is not an unrealistic concern. I approach that problem by not cooking for an entire week, but only 3 days. I plan a mid-week cooking night for the later half of the week, and if I went out to eat or wasn’t as hungry as I expected, I’ll cook less or delay the mid-week cooking night.

Another option is that if you realize you’ve got extra, put it in the freezer. If you do it as soon as you realize you’re not going to eat the meal you planned, it won’t go bad.

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Nina_V • June 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm

I am new to your blog. I just finished reading your book and wanted to see if you’d like some recipes for your collection.

Also, I think you are a brilliant writer. I have read my share of weight loss journey books and many of then have a very compelling story, but most are somewhat lacking in the writing department.

Your book was a nice exception to that rule. It was very well written. I enjoyed your sense of humor and honesty.

I know you’re not fond of people giving you unsolicited advice, but I am going to do it anyway: you should consider making this writing gig a permanent career move. Write some fiction. I’ll be the first in line to buy it!

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Jules Jordon • June 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I was only yesterday moaning about me not being organised and the effect that this had on my weight loss plans. Basically I end up eating all kinds of things I shouldn’t be eating. I know slips are par the course, but sometimes all it takes is organising.

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alesbica • June 21, 2008 at 1:02 am

Why a “wife”? How sexist is that! This statement is just as bad as those cleaning and cooking commercials that primarily show women doing the work when in actuality many times this is not the case. Why not just say “homemaker” or “housekeeper” to make it gender-neutral. And that is not being PC, it is just “C” (correct). I am even more appalled that some of the commenters find the quip risible, when it is plainly offensive. I know you were trying to joke around, but it offends the whole point of female liberation.

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PastaQueen • June 21, 2008 at 9:10 am

I think you need a wife.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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