Are you looking to save money by not dining out as frequently? Do you want to feed your family healthy, home cooked meals, but you have a busy schedule that makes it difficult to do so every night?
If so, you may want to try once a month cooking (OAMC).
I have been cooking once a month for my family for nearly three years now, and I cannot imagine how I used to function when I had to cook a meal every night. Once a month cooking removes most of the dinner time stress and can help your family have a more enjoyable meal time.
You may have heard about people who do OAMC and cook for one day from early in the morning until late in the evening and end up with a freezer full of 30 meals. This is OAMC in its purest form, but I avoided OAMC for several months because I couldn’t imagine investing an entire DAY to cooking. (I do now, but it took me a few tries to work up to an 8 hour cooking bout.)
If you are new to OAMC, I recommend taking a slower approach. You have to realize the benefits of OAMC before you can confidently invest in a full day of cooking.
Picking the Recipes
Not any recipe will work for once a month cooking. Nothing is worse than pulling out a freezer meal that tastes terrible or has a funny texture.
If you choose recipes that are specifically designed for freezer cooking, you will find the meals you pull from the freezer taste just as good as they did when prepared fresh.
Food.com is my favorite resource for OAMC recipes because it is free and there is a large selection of recipes. Type in OAMC in the search button, and you will find over 600 recipes. These recipes are also rated; I try to only pick recipes that receive 4.5 to 5 stars.
Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals is a good cookbook to invest in. The recipes taste delicious, and they are very healthy.
30 Meals in One Day is also an excellent resource, though I wouldn’t recommend investing in this until you are sure that you like freezer cooking.
Preparing OAMC Meals
If you are not sure if OAMC is for you, please start slowly. Choose some recipes from food.com and make one a night for dinner. Just double the recipe when you make it. Eat one meal that night, and freeze the other one.
Do this for five nights, and you have five week nights’ worth of meals in your freezer. Do this for a month, and you have an entire month’s worth of meals in the freezer at no additional time investment to you.
Likewise, food.com has some excellent “dump chicken” recipes. This is OAMC at its easiest.
When you return from the grocery store, stir up some of the marinades in the “dump chicken” recipes. (I have tried Dump Coke BBQ Chicken and Just Like Thanksgiving Chicken). Then, unpack the chicken breasts you just bought and put them and the marinade in freezer bags, put the name of the recipe on the bag along with the date, and pop it in your freezer, and you have a no muss, no fuss meal for the future. On a busy night, pull it from the freezer, put it in a greased 9 x 13 pan, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for an hour.
Dinner is ready!
Once a month cooking is a great tool to lessen your dinner prep burden. If you utilize the strategies here, you can realize the benefits with minimal time investment.
In no time, you and your family will be enjoying tasty, home cooked meals in less time and at a fraction of the cost of a take out or restaurant meal.