Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Once a Month Cooking Revisited

Wait! Before you navigate away with a 'been there done that' attitude hear me out. I have learned a few things about this meal plan since I first tried it out in the early 90's and I want to share it with you.

First, this cooking plan works best if you give yourself permission to continue to make dinner when it suits you. Just because you have 30 meals in the freezer doesn't mean that is all you can serve your family for a month. Next, don't make more than 2 of any recipe. If you haven't made a lasagna in years then all of the sudden you are serving it every Thursday, your family will be confused and secretly hope that you will lose the recipe again. Don't try too many new recipes. There are a ton of recipes for this kind of meal plan but don't try to use this time for a mass experiment. As a kindness, offer your family some recognizable dishes. Also remember you don't need to live this way. Once a month cooking can be a great trick to pull out of your hat for times when you know you will be busy, a new baby, the start of the school year, canning or kidding season are a few times you might be glad dinner is in the freezer.

I got home from shopping at 2:30 and by 6:00 I had prepared 26 meals for $117! This included the cost of the meat since my fall beef and chickens aren't ready for the freezer yet.
9 Chicken entrees (9 meals)
8 lbs Mexican Beef (8 meals)
5lbs Meat Balls (5 meals)
Pizza (4 meals)
26 meals

For the Mexican Beef I put 8 pounds of ground beef in the crock pot on high with chopped onion and garlic and let it cook while I put the meatballs together. Some ideas for beef recipes can be found on Menus4moms The chicken entrees were of the Dump Chicken variety, super easy. If you are using whole fryers from the freezer just put them, a few at a time, into a stock pot of cold water. Fryers are easier to cut while they are mostly frozen if you have a very sharp knife. Once the chicken was in the freezer I drained the cooked beef from the crock pot and added the tomatoes and seasonings. I didn't premake the pizza I just put the pepperoni and Canadian bacon in the freezer.

I made 7 different chicken entrees, so only 2 repeats. I can do so many different things with the Mexican beef, everything from enchiladas and empanadas to tacos and tamales not to mention super nachos and chili. The Meatballs will be for spaghetti and meatballs, baked rotini, pesto penne with Italian vegetables and meatballs, Scandinavian meatballs and sweet and sour meatballs. Pizza for Friday night Pizza night.

So there you go! Once a month cooking as easy as you please. No huge stock pots bubbling away and no casseroles. If you're pressed for time give it a try :)


Sarah J. said...

Could you possibly give a link or post exactly what you used and how you did it? I've heard of once a month cooking before but we aren't into "casseroles" in general so I've never done it...thanks!!

Christy said...

Hi Sara, the links are in the text. Sorry if they are hard to see, for some reason my text was off on this post. In the post you can click on 'Menus4moms' to find some beef recipes like the Mexican Beef and meatballs I made. You can also click 'Dump Chicken' to find recipes for the chicken entrees. HTH

Mary Bennett said...

I like to have a few meals ahead. Another easy way to do it is to make a double (or triple) of what you are making anyway. Like meatballs, meatloaf, baked ziti or mac and cheese. Definately vary the meals though!

* Crystal * said...

Thanks for this..... my kitchen is not air conditioned & when temps don't drop below 100° until around 10pm it makes cooking a horrible chore... I admit we've done several nights of cold cut sandwiches lately.

I've been looking for easy recipes I could put together late at night & freeze so we at least have easy options that don't include sandwiches....

Will rummage through your links for ideas :)


Christy said...

Crystal, look for crock pot meals too. You could put them together at night then toss it in the crock pot. If you have a handy plug-in plug maybe you could plug the crock pot in outside! Also, there is nothing wrong with sandwiches when it is too HOT to cook :)