It has been a week since I completed my day of OAMC and the rewards of that day have been mightily felt every day!
Thankful that this is not how my kitchen has to look anymore during meal prep time…even though this is not my kitchen =0)
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical myself when I began this adventure as to whether or not there would really be “felt” benefits to having things for the most part all cooked and ready to go for dinner prep, but I have been proven wrong. Every day has been a blessing as I look to my schedule to see what is already planned out, and then I don’t even have to worry about actually making that meal from scratch. For me, the idea of simply thawing and either reheating or cooking the main dish, plus throwing in a few sides is simple as can be!
After my first experience of prepping/cooking the majority of a month’s meals in one day, I wanted to make sure to share with you the highlights and lessons of the experience.
If When you decide to give OAMC a try, I hope these help to guide you along the way.
Lessons and Reflections from OAMC
- Plan your meals in advance – Knowing whether you want to make things simple and have the same things each week for each day of the week (wash, rinse, repeat), or if you want to change it up a LOT is a critical element to the OAMC planning. You need to account for the time it will take to plan/prep for lots of different meals vs. lots of servings of the same meals. There is a big difference.
- Write/print out a schedule for your meals – I love that I have literally four weeks of meals all thought out for me in advance. Honestly, sometimes the question “Mom, what’s for lunch?” can be enough to send me to tears just because I am too wiped to think about it. I love having an easy, readable reference for what is going to be eaten already written and decided so I don’t have to think anymore than necessary. This one is worth its weight in gold for me!
- Carefully calculate how much/many of each ingredient is needed so that appropriate batches can be made – If you, like me, do not carefully determine how much meat (read chicken…oops) or other item of choice you need, you might have to get creative to make up for the lost meals in your month’s plan.
- Have easy back-up meals – If you, like me, overlook tip #2, it is important to have other options to slide into the place of missing meals in your plan. I prefer those made with legumes, since I have LOADS of them on hand, so easy vegetarian dishes are a simple filler for us.
- Go meatless a few times a week to reduce spending even more – I will be rotating in at least 2-3 meatless dinners a week from now on because we can definitely save a lot of money with such a simple switch. Plus, chilis, soups, meatless burgers, beans and rice, etc. are yummy to boot and super filling! ***BONUS***
- Buy whatever you can in bulk to save even more – One of the greatest benefits to this idea of OAMC is that you can capitalize on bulk purchases at significant savings because you will likely be using all of the item right away and not have to worry about something going bad. So, if the family-size chicken or steak package is more cost-effective than the single servings, you just saved yourself a ton of money by buying in bulk and then separating the package into individual meals. Whoop!
- Meat dishes that can be thrown into a bag with a homemade marinade and frozen right away to be cooked later are a super simple addition to the OAMC rotation – ‘Nuff said. The easiest dinners I have made were the chicken dishes that were prepped within 5 minutes and frozen, then thawed and thrown in the oven in 5 minutes. Best of both worlds!
- Try adding in “Soup in a Jar” recipes for even more ease and simplicity – I did not add these this month, but I have already planned out several for my next OAMC day. The beauty of these dishes is that the ingredients are almost all dried, so they are really “dump and go” meals that you measure into mason jars (or ziploc baggies, if you want), add the seasonings in another little jar/baggie, and on the day of the meal, pour everything together with broth/water and cook. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Another bonus to this idea is that they are completely shelf-stable, so you could even do this as a just because idea to have easy grab meals ready anytime (**Note** I love to keep a few of these on hand to give away as gifts to people who we either have over for dinner, or who invite us to their house. They are a nice “thank you” gift, in my opinion).
- When you’re in the OAMC groove, prep as many other things for the month as you can to simplify even more – I took the excitement of the moment to also grind up several bags of flour for my sourdough and wheat breads (which I froze the flour right away to maintain as much nutrition as possible), made a batch of gluten-free all-purpose flour, baked a LOAD of cookies which I made available right away and froze a bunch for later, made pancakes in a triple batch to freeze ahead, and had my first attempt at making gluten-free tortillas (not a total flop, but not a total success yet either…still worth the experience). What I am saying is, you are going to have momentum after grooving along with the thrill of getting things going for the month. Use that energy to get a few other things off your list, whether it be baking items like mine was, or anything else that you will likely need to make during the month. Because, if you’re like me, once you sit down…game over.
- Have fun! – Remember, this is a learning experience, so be ready to go with the flow and learn new tips and tricks, as well as what works and does not work for your family. Everything about this is as individualized as you want it to be, so play around with it and make it your own.
You CAN do it!
Remember, even if you choose to only try this OAMC thing for 2 or 3 meals a week you will be alleviating that many nights of headache from meal planning/prepping/thinking. No more last minute meal decisions. No more frequent trips to the grocery store to buy needed ingredients for tonight’s dinner. Far less money going towards groceries.
You will be blessing yourself with the fruit of your labor, promoting peace, less stress, a greater feeling of organization, and joy in the knowledge that you have done well in planning ahead for days to come.
When will you begin your OAMC adventure?