Friday, February 02, 2007

Once A Month Cooking

Thanks to my friend, Rachel, I have been introduced to Once A Month Cooking (OAMC). I have mentioned it before, but I have never taken the time to really write about it, and I just finished a "cook" yesterday, so I thought it might be time to let you all know what it is about.

I was convinced that I would post about it before yesterday even happened, and it turned out not to be the best experience to base it on! I woke up late, the kids didn't cooperate, and I entered the laundry room to find water all over the floor, and in the basement, too! So after a call to Dan, who promised to be home as soon as possible to deal with it, and once Sarah came over, who helps me out by cutting vegetables, browning beef, and chasing the kids, we finally started!

Generally, the prep is the longest part. Weeks before I plan a day to cook, I choose my recipes, make a grocery list (by cutting and pasting from the typed recipe) and do some pre-cooking. I am a bit obsessive-compulsive, so I like my recipes to be typed neatly and I leave them on my refrigerator door for the remainder of the meals, just in case I need to be reminded how to prepare them out of the freezer.

I usually buy 2 whole chickens and put them, completely frozen, in crock pots to cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. After cooling, I pick the meat off the bird (read about that experience) and then the meat is ready for any casserole or soup on my recipe list. 1 chicken (3-4 lbs) usually gives anywhere from 6 to 8 cups of meat, which can cover 3 to 4 recipes for our family.

I try to have the mixture of ground beef and ground turkey browned before the day of the cook also, but this didn't happen yesterday. Oh well, it just made the cooking a bit longer. I learned to mix beef and turkey to make the recipes a bit more healthy and lower fat. I found most cannot tell the difference when mixed together, even husbands who claim to hate ground turkey! (although, to be fair, my husband has never said that!)

If you can manage to chop all vegetables before hand, this makes the cook day go even faster! So if you take the time to prepare thoroughly, the day of becomes assembly only, for the most part. I double all recipes, and most are packaged in 2 in gallon freezer bags. They freeze flat and you can stack them in the freezer. We have a chest freezer, which makes storing meals a lot easier. Last time I did a cook was December 1st, since we were gone over a week during the holidays. And most recipes make enough for a leftover meal for our family, which we love. So making 8 or 9 recipes on the day of the cook equals way more than just 18 meals!

I cannot express how much I enjoy doing this. It takes some preparation, especially while shopping, but the freedom it gives me during the month to grab a meal out of the freezer and not to worry about "What's for dinner?" makes the prep totally worth it.

So this month my family will be eating Green Chile Enchiladas, Chicken Quesadillas, Manicotti, Chicken soup, Chili, Broccoli Casserole, Southwestern Shredded Beef Sandwiches, King Ranch Chicken Casserole and Cheesy Corn Casserole.

Does this sound interesting to you? I would be glad to email all the recipes that I have so that you can try it too!


Gretchen said...

Nettie, I would LOVE to have the one for cheesy corn cassarole! I think you are doing such a fantastic job being a keeper at home. . . I'm really impressed.

I should do something along those lines. Modified for 2, of course, and adjusted for vegetarians! :)

I think I told you before that we used to help my mom do that when she was pregnant, and thinking about it, I'm sure she LOVED having our help! I always made something called "Chicken Packets" (does your book have that recipe?) which was a fave for everyone, and I liked making it because you mix it with your hands! They are a bit in depth to do for a large party, I've found, since I made them for Josh's birthday one year! Too much detail work right before they go in the oven!

amy manahan said...

Oh, my goodness! I laughed OUT LOUD when I read your post about de-boning chicken! I had the same expereince and am glad someone else finds that chore disgusting like me!!
I would love the recipes that you shared on your post; they sound so yummy! I've heard of this process, and it sounds pretty cool. I bet I could talk Shelly (Rimshas)Hart into cooking with me. Do you have a book that you use or did you just start with your own ideas?
Would love more inofrmation about this...I think Normal has a company called DISH, but it is pretty expensive!
Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

We have a Main Dish Kitchen place in our area, and I tried it once. Main Dish has all the ingredients ready when you arrive, and all you do is assemble it following the recipe. After that, you freeze the meal with instructions attached, take the meals home, and then thaw and cook the meals one at a time.

It is a little expensive and we were disappointed with some of the meals, but it is a good idea and saves on prep time at home. I was even inspired to make a meal ahead at home, freeze it, and save it for when I needed a dinner idea.

Donette said...

"Chicken Packets" sounds familiar, I think I copied that recipe from my Mother-in-laws book, but I haven't tried it. I am glad to know you liked it!

If you don't mind posting your email address, I can email you the recipe. Unfortunately it isn't vegetarian, but I am confident you know how to adjust many a recipe for your tastes! I really wish I could be a vegetarian, I am sure you are more healthy than I!

Donette said...

Morning Rose,
I have heard about a few people who have done the meals at a business similar to what you described. They had various opinions, but all agreed it was expensive.
Some of my friends who haven't adopted the whole kit and caboodle of OAMC do try to make double on a particular recipe and eat one portion for the meal that day and freeze the other for later. I think this works great if you don't have much room in your freezer or if you like to vary your meals a bit more than the plan allows.

Donette said...

I forgot to mention, this is great for having company over on short notice. You don't have to worry about having something to serve!

Dora's Life said...

wow, that sounds so cool and time saving.. also, it is neat because you can make more things that you normally wouldn't because you haven't planned ahead and have all the ingredients.. is there are book where you get all these recipes?

Donette said...

I got most of my recipes from my own collection (adapted them for freezing) or from friends, or even the internet. If you Google "Once A Month Cooking" you will find tons of websites with recipes and tips. There is one cookbook that I borrowed from my mom-in-law, but I don't remember the name! Sorry!

mitchells2000 said...

Send me the recipes, please!! With my hectic life of working a lot, and a few 10 hour days, I should really do this instead of eating spaghetti, pasta and more pasta!! :-)

My e-mail address is: