Week after week I sit in my kitchen staring at my calendar trying to figure out the answer to one of life’s most perplexing questions…”What are we going to eat?!” As a mom and primary cook in our household I often feel the weight of my family’s constant need to eat hanging over my head. I want to feed all of us nutrient-dense, filling, and delicious tasting food but without performing some kind of circus act in the process. Sometimes between planning, list-making, shopping, cooking, fighting with toddlers of whether or not they will actually EAT the food, I almost have a nervous breakdown (AKA, Chick-fil-A drive-thru).
It felt like I was asking a lot, till I stumbled on Cassie Joy Garcia AKA @FedandFit on Instagram. She was in the process of launching her 2nd book called “Cook Once Eat All Week”. I watched her live demos (as well as her very entertaining dog talking Insta-stories), read other reviews, and waited to see if the book went on sale. Once I decided to give it a try I purchased the book and jumped right in. I was totally hooked after completing the first week. The food was delicious, easy to prep, and filled with nutrients! As an added bonus I noticed we were under budget on groceries and there was very little (if any food waste). Was it too good to be true? I wasn’t sure, so I cooked on. The book is 26 weeks worth of meal plans. I’ve probably cooked about 20 of them by now and repeated a couple of my favorites.
The book works exactly as it sounds. You do your main meal prep one time, then each day you either reheat or toss some prepped ingredients together and have dinner on the table in no time flat. She provides a weekly meal plan with three “main” recipes using the same three main ingredients. For example, week one’s main ingredients are chicken, broccoli, and rice. Additionally, there are two “bonus” recipes that are usually simple sheet pan meals or something that is easy to toss together but it includes a different protein. I really like this approach too because sometimes I just cook one of the bonus meals but it gives me something different to throw into the mix so we aren’t eating the same portion three nights in a row. The portion sizes are generous and my husband and I usually have plenty left for lunch the next day. She even provides different portion options and measurements so you can determine how much food you need to prep for your family size!
In addition to the meal plan, she includes a shopping list and prep instructions for both the make-ahead portion and the day you want to eat the meal. Everything is nutrient-dense, gluten-free, and can be altered to meet other dietary needs (paleo, dairy-free, etc). The main meal prep day takes maybe 1-2 hrs and is not very complicated. It usually involves cooking up your meat, sauces, precooking your starches, and cutting any veggies involved. I will add that I am efficient in the kitchen and the instant pot makes very light work in cooking most of the meat. I have always made home-cooked meals and use very little pre-made ingredients; however, I have noticed there are a couple of weeks where there are some sauces she suggests making from scratch but instead I chose to purchase the store-bought version because it is just as good and less hassle. For example, one week when there is a marinara sauce I simply picked up a jar of my favorite sauce and skipped the prep part for those ingredients. It was even easier! I’ve made it a habit to scan the recipes and shopping lists in detail and make notes for myself ahead of my meal prep day and then just adjusting a few ingredients and steps for my own purpose. I also love that there are a lot of recipes with white rice and I love to substitute 1/2 cauliflower rice to add even more veggies. Some nights I also throw together a quick side salad to go along with the meal or other sides to give myself a few more veggies. Either way, my favorite thing is that most of the work has already been done for me! It’s really streamlined my weekly meal prep and my family (well, my husband and myself) really like the food. The kids are another story but that’s a whole other blog post! If you are interested you can check out the book on Amazon or she even has a 4-week free plan on her website!