Making dinner on weeknights can feel totally impossible—but it doesn’t have to be.
If you plan ahead and do a little cooking on Sunday, it’s completely possible to have dinner on the table every night in under 15 minutes. We created a complete grocery list and meal plan that has you cooking lots of vegetables, some rice, and a pork shoulder on a Sunday afternoon, then using the already-cooked ingredients to throw together simple, delicious, and varied meals throughout the week.
Each recipe serves four people and takes less than 15 minutes to put together. To ensure that all of the ingredients stay fresh, cook the recipes in the order outlined below.
Below, you’ll find all five weeknight recipes, a grocery list, and step-by-step instructions for the Sunday prep session.
Avocado, ripe, 2 medium
Beefsteak tomato, 2 medium
Broccoli, 4 small heads (about 3 pounds)
Carrots, 8 medium (about 2 pounds)
Cilantro, 1 bunch
Corn, 4 large ears OR 2 cups frozen kernels
Garlic, 1 head
Red bell pepper, 4 large (about 2 pounds)
Romaine, 2 small hearts
Yellow onion, 3 large
Zucchini, 4 medium (about 2 pounds)
MEAT, EGGS AND DAIRY
Butter, 3 tablespoons
Cheddar cheese, 8 ounces
Eggs, 12 large
Pork shoulder, bone-in (about 5 pounds), 1
Balsamic vinegar, 1 small bottle
Pitas (white or wheat), 8 large
Hot sauce, 1 small bottle (optional)
Jasmine rice, 3 cups
Low-sodium chicken stock, 1 cup
Refried beans, 16-ounce can
Salsa, 1 small jar (optional)
Soy sauce, 1 small bottle
Unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 small bottle
Go grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday morning, then spend 2 to 3 hours cooking on Sunday afternoon.
NOTE: If you don’t eat pork but still want to try this meal plan, you can substitute 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast in the recipe below.
Follow the recipe preparation exactly, but cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, instead of on low for 8 to 9 hours.
Make-Ahead Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder
Makes 12 servings
1 bone-in pork shoulder (about 5 pounds), skin removed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
Season the pork shoulder on all sides with salt and pepper. Spread the sliced onion and garlic over the bottom of a slow cooker, then place the pork shoulder on top. Pour the balsamic vinegar and the chicken stock over the pork shoulder.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, until the pork is super tender and falling off the bone. Shred the meat with two forks, discard the bone, then cool completely before storing in airtight containers in the fridge.
PREP NOTE: You’ll be using the pork in three different meals this week, so divide it equally among three airtight containers in the fridge.
Make-Ahead Big-Batch Roasted Vegetables
Makes about 2 cups of bell peppers, 3 cups of zucchini, and 3 cups of carrots
Note: If you have three racks in your oven, you can do these vegetables all at once. If not, cook in batches.
4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds), sliced diagonally into coins about ½-inch thick
4 large red bell peppers (about 2 pounds), halved, cored, thinly sliced
8 medium carrots (about 2 pounds), peeled, sliced diagonally into coins about ¼-inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line three large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the zucchini with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then spread the zucchini out on one of the baking sheets. Repeat with the bell peppers and carrots and the remaining olive oil, using a different parchment-lined baking sheet for each vegetable.
Roast in the preheated oven until the zucchini is soft and the carrots and peppers are cooked through but still al dente, about 40 minutes.
Let the vegetables cool completely before storing them in three separate airtight containers in the fridge.
Make-Ahead Jasmine Rice
Makes 6 cups
3 cups uncooked jasmine rice
3 cups cold water
Rinse the rice by pouring it into a medium pot or bowl, covering it with cold water, then draining it through a fine mesh strainer, shaking the rice to dry it as much as possible.
In a rice cooker: Combine the rinsed rice and the water in the rice cooker and cook according to the machine directions. Let the rice cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
On the stovetop: Combine the rinsed rice and water in a medium pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat all the way down to low, cover, and let the rice cook, covered, for 23 minutes. Let the cooked rice sit, covered, for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Let the rice cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.
Make-Ahead Steamed Broccoli
Makes about 5 cups broccoli
4 small heads broccoli (about 3 pounds), cored and cut into bite-sized florets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In the microwave: Place the broccoli in a large, microwave-safe ceramic bowl or dish with a lid. Add the salt and 3 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 6 minutes. Remove the dish from the microwave and uncover it right away. Let the broccoli cool, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
On the stovetop: Add an inch of water to a saucepan with a steamer basket and bring it to a boil over high heat. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, just use a large saucepan with a lid and put the broccoli directly into the water.) Add the salt to the water, then put the broccoli in the steamer basket. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Steam until the broccoli is bright green but still slightly al dente, 6-7 minutes. Let the broccoli cool, then store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
When the cooking is done, divide the food up into airtight containers. Let everything cool before you put the lids on, then store in the fridge.
Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed
To save time during the week, you can divide the food up ahead of time based on how you’re going to use it.
PORK: Three containers, each with ⅓ of the pork
BROCCOLI: Two containers, one with ⅓ of the broccoli, one with ⅔ of the broccoli
CARROTS: Two containers, one with ⅓ of the carrots, one with ⅔ of the carrots
RICE: Two containers, one with ⅓ of the rice, one with ⅔ of the rice
We didn’t divide up the peppers, zucchini, or corn, because we were out of space and thought those were the easiest to divide later. But, you can divide them if you want.
CORN: Three containers, each with ⅓ of the corn
BELL PEPPERS: Three containers, each with ⅓ of the bell peppers
ZUCCHINI: Two containers, one with ⅓ of the zucchini, one with ⅔ of the zucchini