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azrood
09-09-2011, 08:16 AM
Browsing for dinner ideas the other night I came across a couple of blogs that are based on the philosophy of cooking an entire month's worth of meals and then freezing them. I'm really intrigued by the concept, especially since our scheudle during the school year leaves very little time to cook in the evenings.

http://onceamonthmom.com/
http://www.once-a-monthcooking.com/
http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/oamc.html

donnawells
09-09-2011, 09:20 AM
I once babysat for a family that did this. The whole family pitched in on cooking day. They even had individual sausage biscuits wrapped and frozen so the kids could pop them in the microwave when they wanted. It was quite an operation. I was impressed.

mrsaboyer
09-09-2011, 09:38 AM
I am so drawn to this, as well as to weekly meal planning, but I just don't have the follow-through. I will gather up all my resolve, then get it going, and then on, say Wednesday, I'll decide I want broiled chicken instead of turkey meatballs, and it all goes out the window.

However, I do batch cooking of some stuff. I'll buy a big flat of ground meat and then cook it up with onions and spices- and oats. I always put about 1/2 cup of oats per lb of meat in my ground meat to stretch it and to make it healthier. Anyway, when I'm done cooking it all, I'll portion it out and freeze it in single meal sized packages. I do this with all kinds of proteins, and with veggie purees as well.

I'm curious as to whether anybody has been successful at once a month cooking or meal planning. It would really be a good idea for when my husband is gone!

azrood
09-09-2011, 09:51 AM
I always put about 1/2 cup of oats per lb of meat in my ground meat to stretch it and to make it healthier.

Love this idea Andrea!

michellebatton
09-09-2011, 10:33 AM
I've never done once a month cooking, but I do buy things like meat in bulk and re-portion and put in the freezer. (and I like that oat idea too!) I have tried weekly planning for our dinners and weekend meals, and when I do take the time to do it, I find that we eat better and grocery shopping is nicer LOL but I go in spurts of do it for a couple weeks and then fall off the wagon for a couple months. I think what happens is that I like to try new things when I plan ahead but sitting and looking through cookbooks ends up feeling like a chore - especially when the kids want to "help" LOL

juliesouthern
09-09-2011, 10:51 AM
I am so drawn to this, as well as to weekly meal planning, but I just don't have the follow-through. I will gather up all my resolve, then get it going, and then on, say Wednesday, I'll decide I want broiled chicken instead of turkey meatballs, and it all goes out the window.

It's like you have seen inside my head ;)

I think there have been times that I have been on a once-a-week cooking schedule, but that just really means that we ate out a lot :giggle: DH travels quite a bit and the girls and I get lax when he's gone. I had a friend who had a similar situation and she claims that she knew she was letting things slide too much when she hollered at her girls that it was time for dinner and they immediately went to get into the car!

gonewiththewind
09-09-2011, 11:14 AM
I'm lucky to meal plan for one week.

The once a month cooking sounds appealing, but honestly, what day am I going to give up in its entirety to do all that cooking? I should probably try it, but then again, we would need an extra freezer, which is next on our "to purchase" list . . .

dawnfarias
09-09-2011, 11:20 AM
I could never do that once a month cooking b/c it wouldn't be good for my marriage. :shock: My dh would invariably see it as an unnecessary effort and I'd be left yelling things like "would you PLEASE keep the kids from selling their broken toys to the neighbors while I stuff these zillion manicotti? I mean, I'm doing this for US!" Although now that my kids are getting older, they could help. When I first came across this idea my 4 kids were all 6 and under so it really wouldn't have worked.

I do a weekly meal plan but I don't assign days to the meals - I just number them 1 through 6 and pick which I want on any given day. I plan a main dish and sides and if I feel like mixing and matching them Wednesday then I do. HTH.

dawnfarias
09-09-2011, 11:22 AM
And Cheryl makes a good point about needing storage space to do it. My frig & freezer can just fit our food for one week! Not to mention all the baggies and other storage containers you'd need.

donnawells
09-09-2011, 11:25 AM
Yeah, that family I knew had a big chest freezer stuffed with food.

ccouch
09-09-2011, 11:32 AM
I have a girlfriend who does this and she swears by it. They eat more healthily and more frugally. I have thought several times about trying it, but I've never made it past the "thinking about it" stage.

We do weekly meal plan a good bit of the time. We only eat out once a week for dinner, so if I don't have something ready, then it's sandwiches for dinner! When I plan, though, I plan loosely. I don't necessarily plan what we'll eat each night, but rather the meals that we'll have that week. If I've bought something that will go bad more quickly, then I'll plan to have that earlier in the week, but I like to give myself lots of wiggle room.

ccouch
09-09-2011, 11:32 AM
I think there have been times that I have been on a once-a-week cooking schedule, but that just really means that we ate out a lot :giggle:

LOL! Julie, you crack me up!!

ShabbyShaz
09-09-2011, 12:12 PM
I do bulk cook occasionally - though now I have 2 daughters (15 & 11) who are accomplished cooks I often don't have to do the meals. One was begging the other to let her cook for a week!

Back on topic though. One easy way i found to get meals sorted without doing a major cook was to perhaps buy 10pound ground beef, cook it off with garlic, diced onions and celery, plus salt and pepper. Freeze that in family size portion lots then you have a base from which to make many things. ) I use old plastic icecream containers for freezing it in and write the date on the top.
Throw it in the crockpot (frozen) with bolgnaise fixings, make it into pizza, add it to lasagna or any other thing you can think of in the crockpot. Saves a lot of prep and time and throwing a meal together is a lot easier if you are pushed.

Now if you want to take it a bit further turn it all into bolognaise, freeze it and you have the perfect sauce for any pasta, pizza, lasange etc.

Another good way to bulk cook is to do it with a friend for the day. Cook two different dishes each (x2) then swap two of them.

To keep if non rigid and to eat as you fancy - add a list to your freezer lid with the name/number of dishes and take your pick each day, (cross it off the list)that way you can be semi spontaneous and not feel like you are stuck in a rut. :teehee:

sinead
09-09-2011, 12:59 PM
I need to do something! Like Cheryl, though, I can't even fathom planning for a month. Heck, half the time I don't even plan (or necessarily cook!) for the week. I must must must get back into the habit, though. Eating out is expensive!!

teachermom_Rach
09-09-2011, 01:05 PM
I can only handle one week at a time...both because of storage and my brain. I make a list of the meals I have planned on my white board, and erase them as I cook them. I don't assign a meal to a day because sometimes we "feel" like tacos, while other times we really want a roast.

wishingwellcreations
09-09-2011, 04:02 PM
It's like you have seen inside my head ;)

I think there have been times that I have been on a once-a-week cooking schedule, but that just really means that we ate out a lot :giggle:

...it's more like you have seen inside MY head... *giggle*


"would you PLEASE keep the kids from selling their broken toys to the neighbors while I stuff these zillion manicotti? I mean, I'm doing this for US!"

hahahahaha :lol:

mrsaboyer
09-09-2011, 05:49 PM
Julie and Dawn, you ladies are cracking me up as well! The whole kids selling their toys thing, bwaahahahaaa!

HeatherB
09-09-2011, 06:21 PM
To keep if non rigid and to eat as you fancy - add a list to your freezer lid with the name/number of dishes and take your pick each day, (cross it off the list)that way you can be semi spontaneous and not feel like you are stuck in a rut. :teehee:


What a great idea!

Mimi_2_Charlie
09-09-2011, 10:49 PM
I do things a bit differently since it is just DH and I now. When the kids come with the grandkids, everything is done freshly because they are a big crowd. But you can do things like grill chicken until it is not quite done then leave it whole, slice it up, grind it up for chicken tacos, or shred it for say Chicken Tetrazini. You can cook hamburger with onions and garlic in advance and put it in freezer bags for things like tacos, spaghetti, etc. We almost always cook a big box of brats whenever we grill as they are good for night when we just want to grab something and go on to the next thing. I prepare the side dishes and veggies fresh, but try to do a lot of grilled meats at the same time. Some things just aren't good though leftover, so things like steak, boneless chops or roast beef I cook fresh. We eat a lot of tilapia, but it is fast and easy to bake or sautee, so I take whatever shortcuts I can. When we make mashed potatoes, I use 2 whole sticks of butter and one package of cream cheese and they heat really well if you use a lower cooking temperature for a little longer. Gravies and sauces have to be reheated on the stove most of the time. So, no matter how you do it, I think there is always a bit of prep time involved, but these things save me time on the back end later. Sausage patties already cooked whenever my grandsons come is a must, and I always cook extra biscuits when he first arrives so he can fix himself a breakfast sandwich. He has ADD, so food with morning medication is a must! Hope these tips might help someone. My husband and I both came from families with 6 kids and I still have a hard time cooking for just the two of us, so I am lucky my husband likes leftovers. In fact, some things get better with age - like spaghetti sauce.

dawnfarias
09-09-2011, 11:07 PM
Julie and Dawn, you ladies are cracking me up as well! The whole kids selling their toys thing, bwaahahahaaa!

:)

lynnirene
09-10-2011, 01:10 PM
I have a friend who does this and she loves it. It does take one or two full days to do though. I think she has her mom or her husband watch her two small children during that time, though.

I would definitely consider this if it were more than just DH and I in our family.

donnawells
09-11-2011, 12:45 AM
Here's an article with a list of all the foods you can freeze. I thought it might be helpful for this conversation.
Freezable Foods (http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/2011/02/10/freezable-foods/)

Mimi_2_Charlie
09-11-2011, 12:17 PM
Great article Donna. Thanks - I bookmarked it!

Tiff
09-11-2011, 01:01 PM
Miller is really picky and generally doesn't eat the food that I prepare, so I'm basically cooking for two. So, if I make a dish that feeds four or more, I will freeze half of it to save for a later date. This works really well for us because we aren't good at eating leftovers.

So for things like ... stuffed bell peppers or beef enchiladas I freeze half the filling for a later date. For chicken pot pie or quiche, I make up little ones, complete with crust and freeze those uncooked. For my favorite soups, I make double batches and freeze a bunch of can-sized jars of soup.

I LOVE having some easy meals that I can just thaw and put into the oven, or (like the stuffed peppers or enchiladas) have most of the work already done. And they're all home-made and healthy.

hollyinjapan
09-18-2011, 05:21 AM
I would love to be able to try this, but kitchen space in Japan (i.e. freezers) are non-existent. Have always been intrigued by it though!

vivie
09-18-2011, 09:12 AM
I do the batch cooking and freezing like mentioned, cooking the ground beef or chicken. Also buy vegetables on sale and slice and freeze it up it up for the winter when they are more expensive here in Denmark. And breads too because i always end up with more hotdog buns then the sausages!!! When i make lasagna, i make two or three pans of them and freeze the extra ones. those always taste better for some reason. And yes, i make gobs of sauces and freeze those.