Meal Planning Means No Excuse to Eat Poorly – Part 2

Cook a Week of Meals review: mango chicken

Last week I published the first half of Amanda Hillocks testimonial and experience using my eBook, Cook a Week of Meals in 4 Hours. Here’s the conclusion to that post where things really get cooking!

Step 3 – Cooking

When I got home I filled my sink and gave the fruit and vegetables a good wash. I cleared the bench, preheated the oven, pulled out the ingredients and slow-cooker, grabbed a big chopping board and sharp knife. Ready, set, cook!

I did some initial preparation by chopping up a few onions (both red and white), crushing a whole head of garlic and slicing a couple of chillies to put aside.

Time taken: 10 minutes

Slow Cooker Beef Roast

First up was the Slow Cooker Beef Roast with Turnip. I followed Darren’s recipe exactly, except for the turnip part. I don’t like turnip. The best thing about slow cooker recipes? You get to set and forget!

Time taken: 10 minutes

Then I thought I’d get my veggies going. I pulled out all my baking trays, put down a layer of baking paper and set about chopping with a few improvisations along the way.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I roasted cabbage wedges instead of sprouts.

Cook a Week of Meals review: roast cabbage

Squash and Sweet Potatoes

Decided on sweet potatoes only. I halved the sweet potatoes and added a glaze of squeezed orange juice, orange zest, honey and olive oil. Pour over the sweet potatoes and ‘baste’ by turning them every 20 minutes while cooking. Delish!

Roast Eggplant & Bell Peppers

I added asparagus spears because they’re my favourite.

Throw in the oven.

Time taken: 20 minutes

Cook a Week of Meals review: roast vegetables

Beet Carrot Salad

I predicted that the veggies would take around an hour to cook since the oven was so full! I cracked on with my Beet Carrot Salad, which wasn’t a Beet Carrot Salad because Andy doesn’t like beetroot. It became more like a coleslaw with shredded cabbage, carrots and apple. I really enjoyed the dressing that Darren recommends – it had the zing from the apple cider vinegar, but also texture from the mustard and sesame seeds.

Time taken: 15 minutes

Added My Own Recipe!

Although it’s not technically part of my Cook a Week of Meals in 4 Hours, I wanted to make some tomato “pasta” sauce as a gift for my friend and to re-stock my supply. So I used the time while the veggies were in the oven to chop up a ridiculous amount of tomatoes and get that going.

Next up: Roast Mango Chicken Breasts

This is a staple in our household. It was one of the first recipes I tried from Darren’s blog, Eat, Move, Be. It’s really hard to get fresh mango in NZ – we don’t grow it here so it’s imported and therefore expensive. Instead I drained a 400 gr. can of mango and rinsed it to be rid of as much of the syrup as possible.

Because the chicken breasts were skin-on, I had no choice but to crack on some salt and pepper and sear the beauties in a screaming hot pan. Crispy skin mango chicken? Get in my belly!

Time taken: 10 minutes

Beef Burgers

My last recipe as part of Cook a Week of Meals in 4 Hours experiment was the Beef Burgers. I was really curious about this recipe because it has a lot of moist ingredients – yoghurt and 3 eggs!

As I was prepping the mince mixture (which is lamb mince because it’s what I had on hand – lamb and yoghurt were made to be eaten together anyway, especially with a cheeky hint of mint) I noticed it was indeed very sloppy. So instead of trying to shape into burgers it became meatloaf and found its place in the oven next to the Mango Chicken. This probably also saved me about 20 minutes not having to shape burgers!

Time taken: 15 minutes

Phew, done!

2.5 hours down and everything was either cooked, or being cooked. All I needed was to box the vegetables, keep an eye on the meat dishes (in the oven and slow cooker) and then box those when ready. Oh, and a spot of clean-up. At that stage, probably only another 30 minutes of ‘work’ remained.

Cook a week of meals by Darren Stehle 3D cover

The Verdict?

The food was delicious and super versatile. We had enough food to last us through to Friday lunch time. Perfect! It was versatile in that there was enough variety in meat and vegetables that no two meals were the same. I really looked forward to coming home after a hard workout to be greeted by a fully stocked fridge, ready to eat. No stress!

By planning out our food for the week, and having it all ready to go, we had no excuse for eating poorly, or “Oh, it’s getting late let’s just grab a curry.”

Although I didn’t follow Darren’s recipes to a tee, it certainly inspired my afternoon of cooking and I look forward to making this a habit. I encourage you to hack the recipes to suit you, and include some of your favourite recipes too.

Thanks Darren!

Amanda Hillock of www.thenetballer.comThis is a guest post by Amanda Hillock (formerly of the, an avocado-fuelled fitness & sports blogger from down under.