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12 Recipes for a Stress-Free Week of Cooking

April 24, 2015

Today: We figured out the weeknight meal planning so you don't have to.

Making a to-do list—and then crossing the items off—is one of life’s most satisfying pleasures, right up there with cracking the top of a crème brûlée. It's even better when your organization has a solid purpose, like learning how to become a better minimalist or getting your dinners prepared and organized for the week.

So work with us: Make these recipes on Sunday, and you’ll be stocked with both ingredients and ideas for the week ahead. That way, when you’re running around packing your kid’s lunch, the last thing you’ll be worrying about is what’s for dinner tonightsince it'll already be crossed off the list

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What to do with the Extra Tender Meatballs: On Sunday, combine them with Marcella Hazan’s Tomtato Sauce with Onion and Butter over the Cacio e Pepe. Make a double batch, and you’ll have enough leftover to use in place of the chicken meatballs in Chicken Meatball Subs with Gobs of Fresh Mozzarella on Wednesday. Make mini meatballs, and you could also use them as a topping for pizza, or in lasagna.

When making the Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan, make twice (or even three times!) the farro and set the extra aside. You’ll want it for soup and your soul-lifting grain bowl later in the week. Have extra mushrooms on hand for later on, when you’ll want to make this Roasted Mushroom Salad on Wednesday.

Not only is Phyllis Grant’s Hearts of Romaine Salad with Bacon, 5-Minute Eggs, and Pesto Dressing delicious, but it was made for weeknight meal planning. Extra boiled eggs will go a long way for packing lunches, as will extra bacon. And it’s always good to have romaine to throw more salad together later in the week.


Now that spring has sprung, stock up on asparagus. Start the week with Asparagus with Spring Garlic Pesto (then use this pesto for your salad on Tuesday and Friday!). Sauté extra asparagus spears and set them aside for your mushroom and asparagus stir-fry later in the week; you can also add them to Thursday’s grain bowl, or make soup.

Since it’s Sunday, make a double batch of pizza dough and stick in the freezer until Thursday. Defrost it overnight, and use up the last of your bacon and the last dribbles of your tomato sauce to make Roberta’s Pizza with Guanciale and Egg. Sunday is also a great day to make yourself a treat for the weekend. Make a batch of cinnamon rolls and stick them in the fridge overnight to proof, and you’ll be set come Monday morning, when all you have to do is pop them in the oven to bake.


Your menu, day by day:






  • Grain bowl with any leftover elements (asparagus, eggs, mushrooms, pesto, bacon)


To make your day of cooking just a bit simpler, we’ve written your grocery list for you:

Serves 4 

From the refrigerated and dairy cases:

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

From the produce department:

2 onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 pound wild mushrooms
25 to 30 hearts of Romaine leaves
2 bulbs spring garlic
2 cups basil
3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1 or 2 lemons)
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1 bunch asparagus 

From the meat counter:

1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground veal
10 slices bacon

From the dry goods, bulk, and international aisles:

1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cups canned tomatoes, preferably Italian
1 box pasta of your choice
1 cup uncooked farro
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts
500 grams all-purpose flour

We assume that you already have a healthy supply of salt, pepper, olive oil, and butter in your pantry. If you don’t, add those to your list.

Photos by James Ransom, Sarah Shatz, Phyllis Grant, Mark Weinberg, fiveandspice, and Izy Hossack.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chuck
  • Christina Glaser
    Christina Glaser
  • Sharon
  • LLStone
  • Mei Chin
    Mei Chin
Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Chuck May 3, 2015
What did you guys do to the comment I added?
Chuck May 3, 2015
Christina G. April 27, 2015
This is a great article. I would love more features like this!
Mei C. April 28, 2015
Thank you! We're planning on it.
TaraT May 1, 2015
Is it happening again this week? This was a game changer.
Sharon April 26, 2015
Shouldn't there be kale on the grocery list?
LLStone April 24, 2015
This looks great! I've printed my shopping list.