It’s 6:30 your kids are hungry and you have got no idea what to make for dinner. You rush around the kitchen pulling down a box of macaroni and cheese while perusing the fridge for something edible. At last you decide to add in a can of peas and some hot dogs to the mix and convince yourself that your were in a bind so what if it isn’t a five course meal, and besides peas are healthy, right? We have all been there. But a new fad in the kitchen might just save you some of that frustration when your dinner inspiration has run dry. Once a Month Cooking helps your prepare multiple meals in advance while using up the ingredients that might have ended up being wasted. I will be honest that this new way of cooking is hard at first, but it pays to have a few ready made meals in the wings for when you need them most.
When beginning Once a Month Cooking it is suggested to do a two week cycle, I say do only a week. It can get confusing if you are just starting out, so keep it simple. Basically then you would prepare 7 meals on one day and then place them in the freezer, or however they are meant to be stored. Then as supper rolls around the corner you just open the cabinet and voila, dinner is served.
Here are some Ideas of how this might work for dinner with a simple shopping list:
Whole Chicken (Or Breasts), Noodles, Cheese, Condensed Milk, Tomato Sauce, Alfredo Sauce, Rice, Hamburger, Veggies, Buns, Potatoes, Broth, Tortillas, Beans, Tater Tots
Okay now for your menu:
1.Spaghetti(Noodles, Sauce, Optional Hamburger) 2.Tetrazzini(Chicken, noodles, Alfredo, Cheese) 3.Tacos(Hamburger, Tortillas, Veggies, Cheese, Beans) 4.Tortilla Soup(Chicken, Broth, Tortilla,Rice, Beans, Veggies) 5.Sloppy Joes(Tomato Sauce, Hamburger, Veggies Minced, Buns) 6.Chicken Bake(Chicken, rice, Potatoes, Veggies, Cheese, Milk) 7.Tater Tot Casserole(Tater Tots, Hamburger, Milk, Veggies, Cheese)
This isn’t a super varied menu but you can see how you can basically use the same ingredients to make multiple meals. This cuts down on waste, saves money, and makes meal time a breeze. It would be very easy to throw in a can of biscuits or a side of mashed potatoes, but your main cooking would be done. You could also use ingredients such as the tater tots as sides to other meals. This would take a few hours to put together, but since you could cook all the noodles at once, etc it would go by faster than doing individual meals.
Storing the food is pretty simple. For soup you would make the soup in advance and then put into either a Ziploc bag or a container to be frozen. When it is time to use just place in pot and heat. This is the same idea for most things. Although you could make dry mix soups or sauces, in my opinion it is easier just to have it all together and ready to go. A real time saver is breakfast. You want your kids to have a healthy breakfast but sometimes it is difficult to have the time or energy to ensure that happens. You can pre-make things like waffles and put them in the freezer in a Ziploc, or muffins, even scrambled eggs can be frozen in advance. This way you know what is going into them rather than grabbing something filled with sugar from the freezer aisle at the store when you need quick meals.
You don’t have to once a month cook, to once a month cook. I try to use up ingredients and freeze them into meals. If I am making lasagna I go ahead and make two pans instead of one. Eventually you will have a freezer full meals and there is no big hassle to it. You can use them when you need them, remember to mark when they were prepared and an expiration date to keep track. You can find menu plans, shopping lists, and helpful tips here: http://once-a-monthcooking.com/