At this year’s Home Educator’s Association of Virginia (HEAV) Homeschooling Convention in Richmond, I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with Annette Economides, co-author of wonderful books like America’s Cheapest Family Gets You On The Money and Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half with America’s Cheapest Family, which are both phenomenal guides with practical money-saving tips (more on that another time). While we talked, I asked Annette what her top recommendation would be to simplify meal preparation for the mom of many littles (which happens to be where most of the last seven years of my life has been). To my dismay, she responded without hesitation, “Once a Month Cooking!”
I have looked into Once a Month Cooking (commonly referred to as OAMC) before, but had been overwhelmed by the idea of cooking that many meals at once. And what about organizing the cooking adventure? How do I choose the meals? Do I need 30 different recipes, or is simplification possible?
But, now the master had spoken, and I needed to reconsider the “beast” of OAMC. This month I decided to take the bull by the horns and try out this mode of feeding the family.
But, what is Once-a-Month-Cooking, and why should you consider it?
The premise of Once a Month Cooking is that you take one day (or two, if needed) to pre-cook and then freeze the majority of a month’s worth of meals for your family. This is predominantly the dinner meals, but different people may opt to prepare some of lunches or breakfasts in this way too.
First, you compile a selection of meals you are deciding to make during the month, either making quadruple amounts to have the same meals each week, repeating weekly, or changing it up with lots of variation.
Next, you figure out your shopping list for all the meals, making sure to purchase enough ingredients for the multiple meals.
Then, you go food shopping. Since you are buying quite a bit more food than usual, expect a larger quantity of foods, but if you are a savvy shopper and make your lists according to sales and/or coupons, you may not have a bigger price tag.
Finally, you plan out your cooking day and follow through with it. You need to determine in what order you make the foods to try to optimize your time as best as possible. Some people cook each quadruple meal at a time, finishing one before moving onto the next, while others chop, dice, and cook the entire menu’s worth of ingredients and sort things out once cooked. This is an individual preference for how your mind best organizes your meals.
And, of course, bag/contain and freeze all those yummy meals to enjoy for the following month’s dinners. Make sure you have plenty of freezer space available to accommodate the load of food you have now carefully prepared.
Depending on the meals you choose, at most you will simply need to thaw out your prepared portions, heat up, and serve with desired sides. Other meals may simply be one-dish wonders that require no additional work save for re-heating to serve. Whatever you choose, enjoy the thrill of knowing that your dinners are planned out and prepared for you for the entire month…one less thing to add to the already jam-packed mommy brain. Now that is something to write home about!
Make sure to subscribe to my blog to catch the upcoming follow-up post where I share my personal adventure with Once-A-Month Cooking.
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