Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My mom sent me a book last winter

called Dinner is Ready! It is a Once a Month Cooking guide/recipe book. When she gave it to me, I read it, and thought it was a good idea, but it sounded like a lot of work. I looked over it again a few months later, and again thought it was a good idea, but it was summer by this time, and I just couldn't really think about spending several hours in my hot, tiny kitchen. So I put it next to my other recipe books, and kind of forgot about it.

Well, then fall started, and then winter, and I was finding myself having a harder and harder time getting dinner ready on time, especially on nights that we had to be out for girl scouts or swimming, etc. After we had spaghetti two nights in a row, I decided that I'd had enough. I decided that starting in 2009, I was going to revamp our menus a bit, and that I was going to try the Once A Month cooking.

Before I tell you about how I tweaked it for us, etc., I just want to tell you that I LOVE Once A Month cooking. It works out SO well for our family, and I plan on keeping it up.

OK, so I reread the book. The author recommends picking out 15 recipes and doubling them so that you have 30 dinners. That is not what I did, partly because I hadn't used any of these recipes and so I wasn't sure that I would want two of a recipe that my family hated, but partly because my family just likes variety. We have never been big on leftovers or frequent repeats, so I decided to do 20 meals, and then fill in with some of our standards (sloppy joes, hot dogs, pizza, etc.) I also knew that it would probably be a challenge for me to find recipes because of Jelly Bean's milk allergy, so I want to try as many non-dairy ones as I could so that I could decide from those which ones to maybe double the next time.

After I decided on the recipes, I made my grocery list for the items. I first checked off all the items that I already had in my stockpile, and then I made a list according to produce, dairy, meat, condiments, etc. and made my totals for items (such as 8 pounds of ground turkey, 12 pounds of chicken, etc.) I went to Aldi's and got as many items as I could. Then I checked the ads for Jewel-Osco and Kroger and got the cheapest price for the other items. I ended up spending $75 for all the ingredients. (I also ended up spending $100 at Aldi's and Kroger at a different time to replace our regular stockpile items and weekly items. I spent an additional $100 the rest of the month for weekly items - so my total grocery spending for January was $275 for our family of five and a dog.)

Then I actually did the "cooking" over two days on the first weekend. I just couldn't & didn't want to do it all in one day. I did worked from approximately 4 pm to 10 pm both nights. The first evening, I did in two slow cooker meals (one at 4 pm, and the other one right before I went to bed and cooked overnight), two oven meals, and four stove top meals. The next evening, I did two slow cooker meals, two oven meals, and six assembly meals.

We had a couple meals that we will NOT be trying again, but a few that were big hits, and plenty that were good. And I can't tell you how nice it was to just take a meal out in the morning, and just throw it in the oven at 4 or whatever, and now that we would have a hot meal ready for dinner. It was also nice to know that if I needed to cook a meal for someone, I already had a few in my freezer that I could pick from. And honestly, it wasn't that bad doing the cooking over a couple of days. I worked in the kitchen and listened to my iPod, did a little reading occasionally when I had a few moments. And it was all worth it when I didn't have to scramble around every night. So for us, a big thumbs up for Once A Month cooking!

Here are some Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) sites:

OAMC Freezer Supper Swappers
30 Meals In One Day
Dinners In The Freezer
Once A Month Cooking World


AFarCryFromNormal said...

Did I ever tell you, you're my hero??!! LOL Hey, my mom gave me the same book last winter. What a coinky dink! LOL I too had the very same thoughts about it and on several occasions. Funny how she brought it up when she was here. I told her that I was planning on trying it out. When we were in Ohio, I did OAM cooking for awhile and we really enjoyed it. Hey, since we have the same book, can you recommend any of your most favorite recipes in there. Next week, I am going to get some alot of meat. Just in case you see any good deals. I like your idea of breaking it up into a couple of days.

Well........again you are my hero!! :-)

Mary said...

This sounds like a great idea -- that I would never do! But perhaps I will follow your incredible example and try it. How did you fit it all in your refrigerator and freezer?