The idea behind once-a-month cooking (OAMC) is to spend a set amount of time cooking, be it a day or two, but cooking and freezing enough meals to last through the whole month. Some people, especially beginners, feel intimidated by the process so start out with once a week cooking instead of monthly.
Some benefits are using less time and energy…it takes longer to make three chicken meals one at a time, than to make them at the same time. Another benefit to having meals on hand is not relying on processed food when you are pressed for time.
I don’t take credit for the following tips, I’ve had them saved on my computer for a while and the original author is unknown to me. It’s a great tutorial for anyone who wants to get started with OAMC or OAWC.
STEP ONE: Choose 20 recipes.
This will last a family of 4 about 4 weeks, (allowing for leftovers, eat-out nights, scratch cooking nights, baked potato nights, etc.) Try to have a balance of casseroles, soups, stews, pasta, meats,
ethnic foods and so on.
STEP TWO: Make up a master grocery list.
Make sure you list EVERY SINGLE ITEM you will need. Include products like aluminum foil, freezer bags and scouring pads. Don’t forget simple things like flour, salt and sugar. (You don’t want to run out of something on cooking day!) Once you have your list, check off the items you will need to purchase.
STEP THREE: Start a notebook of your very own recipes.
Either copy the recipe or rewrite it on a 8×11 sheet (one recipe per page). On cooking day, you will be taping these up around your kitchen, so you don’t want to have to hassle with cookbooks or recipe
cards. Organize them to your liking in a 3-ring notebook. After a few months, you’ll have a nice notebook full of once a week cooking recipes that WORK!!!
STEP FOUR: Read through each recipe and break it down into simple steps.
On a sheet, list the recipe names in columns. Write the steps underneath. Do it in an order that makes sense to you. Then take similar steps from ALL the recipes and do them together.
Example: To make spaghetti sauce and lasagna
chop onion (x cups or x pounds of onions)
grate cheese (x cups or ounces)
brown meat and drain
wrap pan and freeze
bag and freeze
On cooking day, do similar tasks together, i.e. all the chopping, sauteeing, peeling, boiling. Put soups and stews which will cook for a long time on early to simmer. Then put the casseroles together;
wrap carefully and put in the bottom of a chest freezer or on the bottom of shelves. (They take up more room and also take longer to freeze).
STEP FIVE: Label your items!
Put a “sharpie” indelible marker on your shopping list if you don’t have one. Ink pen is not legible and regular markers run. Include any preparation instructions on a piece of paper slipped inside the
double bag. Be sure to write down the number of servings! (You will not remember!)
STEP SIX: On cooking day, start as early as you can and dress to work.
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Have a change of aprons ready and lots of clean towels. Clear off your countertops and clutter so that you have maximum workspace. Tape up the recipes where you can see them in plastic page protectors. You will be amazed at how quickly things go together if you’ve done steps ahead of time (the chopping, browning, etc.)
STEP SEVEN: Evaluate how your OAMC session went.
Make notes on your recipes if you want to make any changes the next time. Clean up your kitchen so that you don’t have to face that mess tomorrow!
STEP EIGHT: Don’t cook dinner on your big day!
Order in a pizza or go out to eat. If you are short on funds, save your crockpot for your evening meal so that you don’t have to fix another dish. You will be TIRED, but it will be worth it.
Food, frugal meals, frugal shopping, once a month cooking