Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Have you heard about Once a Month Cooking?

The premise?  Cook for a day (a loooong, loooong, day), and then take the month off and eat the meals you made and froze.


No cooking for a month?

No wondering what to prepare every. single. day. ?????

No kitchen clean-up?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


I was totally sold.

The first obstacle I encountered as I decided to move forward was that my freezer was PACKED.  Unfortunately, making a month of meals takes up a lot of space (they've addressed the space issue and other "getting started" questions here).   

So…through a delightful series of events, we emptied the freezer.

The Lean Pockets were to tide us over until the cooking process began.

Then, I went to the Once a Month Mom website: http://onceamonthmom.com/

Here’s what the blessed women at that site do FOR FREE (they accept donations):

  1. They compile monthly recipes with ingredients that will be on sale during the month.

  1. They test every single one of them.

  1. They create a recipe spreadsheet.

  1. They have done fancy math so that you can enter the number of people you’re cooking for, and the recipes will update automatically.  Love!

  1. They compile a grocery list spreadsheet that updates the same way – based on the number of people.  Double-love!!

Grocery list - it even has a column for the store/cost per unit/quantity/total/& notes!

  1. They give you step-by-step instructions so you don’t have to figure out the simplest way to get from point A to point Z.

The food has to cool before you freeze it.  (Note the three gallon-sized bags of Minestrone soup chillaxin'.)
  1. They provide labels you can print off to stick to each item as you prepare it.
Love the labels!  Super-easy!
Basically, they do all the hard work for me.  It’s fantastic!!!

My favorite so far:
Some of our favorites - waiting to be frozen.  Breakfast pizza, breakfast cookies (they were ok...not my favorite, but I didn't want them to feel badly in the previous sentence), and SOUTHWEST EGG ROLLS OF HAPPINESS!  (Look this recipe up.  You'll thank me!)

Here are the mini menus I tried this week (much faster prep, because there are less to make).  So far, every single one has been delightful as well.

I didn't actually do all of my cooking in one day.  I have an 11 month old.  (See previous post)  Instead, I made two or three recipes every few days.  I doubled the recipes so that I got two meals for each one.  (Actually, they doubled everything for me.  I just told the spreadsheet how many servings I wanted.)  We would eat one of the meals, and then freeze the rest.  On days that are crazy, I don't cook.  I just thaw the food the night before and pop it in the oven in time for dinner.

That worked well, because on the one day I tried to cook for several hours straight, I washed dishes a TON in order to have enough to go around.  On the smaller cooking days, my kitchen looked like this:
This is one of the cleaner days for me.  The Cheerios kept Emily entertained for hours.  The computer had the recipe spreadsheets and This American Life podcasts to keep me entertained for hours.

Here are some of my tips/hints:
  • Buy minced garlic.  18 cloves of mincing gets really old really fast.  Just sayin'.   
  • Ditto with chopped onion.  Buy it frozen.  It’s totally worth the cost.
  • Only use Ziplock heavy-duty bags.  Skimping for pennies results in leaky bags during the thawing process. Ew.  (There are often Ziplock coupons in the Sun. paper.)
  • Do a double layer of aluminum foil over the 8x8 pans (or plastic wrap, then foil) to protect the food.
  • Buy the $0.97 8x8 metal pans at Wal-Mart and re-use them.
  • Read all of their tips and hints.  They know what they're talking about!

Here are 25ish meals, frozen and waiting to be loved.  (There would be more, but we keep eating them.  They're yummy!)


  1. I have had this on my to do list for a long time. Really need to do it.

  2. Cool, Tiff! I'm going to try this this summer!

  3. Ok, I thought I had read this one, because I read all of your posts and I've seen the one before and the one after, so I'm not sure how I missed it, but glad I got re-directed back. Thanks!

    (Also, I'm not sure if you've seen this tip before or if it would work for the amount you do at once, but something I did when I was freezer cooking in preparation for baby arrival was I sprayed a casserole dish with cooking spray, lined it with foil and then put whatever in it - like lasagna - and then after it had frozen, I could pull the whole thing out of the dish to bag it. Then, when it was time to thaw/cook it, I just put it back in the proper size pan. That way I didn't have to buy a bunch of disposable stuff and I didn't lose my pan for months. Or you could buy the 88cent stuff - whatever works ;) )