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!