If you haven’t tried Once a Month Cooking for your monthly cooking solution, you definitely ought to give it a shot! Not only can it easily save you money, but also tons of time in the kitchen. Let’s face it, a hot kitchen is not where most of us want to be during these summer months!
In part 1 of the series I shared the nuts and bolts of getting started with Once a Month Cooking. Today I am going to share exactly what I did to accomplish the task of cooking/prepping for a month’s worth of meals.
Here are some photos/documents of the written preparation I did for my OAMC day (sorry for the poor photo quality of the pictures):
THM Menu – This is the file I printed out to write in exactly what I would be eating/feeding the kids. Most of the meals are the same each week, with slight variation. I have THM (Trim Healthy Mama) verbage on here to help keep them weight-friendly for Mark and I.
Basically, I made a list of the different meals I wanted to make for the month. Then, after looking over the individual recipes, I made a separate list of each of the recipe components I needed to make on my OAMC day. I chose to make each recipe separately for better mental organization (so, instead of making all the ground beef I would need for the day, which was 10 lbs, I made a batch of 6 lbs and then a batch of 4 lbs, which were the amounts I needed for specific recipes). Once I made the “Make Ahead Components” List, I made a list of any other recipes I wanted to make in my OAMC spree. I opted to add some baking recipes into my plan, which included GF Chocolate Chip cookies, THM-friendly cookies, GF Flour Tortillas, grinding my gluten-containing flour to freeze it (probably a few weeks-worth), making a loaf of Whole Wheat Bread, and making two different types of Granola (one for the kids, and one for myself).
My OAMC Day Plan Comes Together
On my chosen day, I took out all the necessary meats and began to let them soften a tad, or thaw completely (as needed).
The first recipes I worked with were those not needing to be cooked before being frozen. My chicken dishes were all like this, so I went through each chicken recipe, making the sauce or marinade it called for, placed the appropriate amount of chicken into a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag and poured the sauce on top. I then squished it about for a few and put it right into the freezer. Only one of my meals used “never frozen” chicken, so all the rest were done right on top of frozen chicken breasts/tenderloins. Chicken, done!
The second group of recipes was the ground beef ones. I started with the Taco Spaghetti, since I needed to use the same pot for both cooking the noodles and the beef. I boiled the water and cooked the pasta first, and then browned the beef while the noodles cooled. Once cooked, I added the rest of the ingredients, mixed in the pasta, and poured it all into two separate casserole dishes with lids for freezing. Taco Spaghetti, done!
Next, I browned the beef for the crockpot spaghetti sauce, diced onions and minced garlic to cook with the beef, and added the other sauce ingredients to the crockpot while the meat browned. Once all the meat was browned, I added it also to the crockpot and then let it all cook for the next 6-7 hours, cool overnight, and then separate into four gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bags. Spaghetti Sauce, done!
Then, I took on the Taco Filling, which ended up using about 6 lbs of ground beef. Talk about using your muscles! Trying to stir that meat to brown it was no easy task, and I learned that my left arm is definitely not as controlled and effective as my right (while beef was splattering out of my pot when I was trying to stir). Not only did I have loads of meat, I also diced 6 cups of onions and 12 cloves of garlic. Yes, my eyes were burning, but it was all worth it when I was able to bag up four dinner’s worth of Taco Filling after it all cooled. Yum! Taco Filling, done!
The final meal of the day was the Crockpot Chili, which was actually very simple. I used a mixture of ground turkey and chicken breast to compile the lean meats I needed and cooked them up. I then seasoned as needed, let them cool, and bagged it for the Crockpot Chili night. Easy as pie. Crockpot Chili, done!
And, there you have it! Overall my experiences with the Once a Month Cooking day went really well. I scheduled it on a day that I had a morning appointment and still was able to get everything done before dinner that night! There are a few things that I learned along the way (such as having a back-up meal in case ingredients do not pan out as desired), but that’s another post entirely. Happy cooking!
If you have any experience with Once a Month Cooking, be sure to share in a comment below!
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