The key to successfully using the once-a-month cooking method is to get organized and plan ahead. This is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants in the kitchen! While I’m sure there are a few people who could do that and still end up with a freezer full of delicious home-cooked meals, most of us would simply end up huddled in the corner in tears because of the chaos of trying to cook 15-30 meals at once without a plan.
7 Once-a-Month Cooking Tips
If you’re ready to take the plunge and give once-a-month cooking (OAMC) a try, here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Start small. Plan to cook one or two weeks worth of dinners during your first cooking session rather than starting off with a full month of all three meals. Follow someone else’s plan your first couple of sessions before attempting to create your own.
2. Bring in the reinforcements. Ask a friend to join you, and double the recipes so you each have a set of meals at the end of the day. Have your husband or someone else wrangle the kids so that you can focus on the cooking.
3. Shop the day before. Don’t try to shop on the same day you’ll be cooking. You won’t have time to get your ingredients organized, and you’ll probably end up exhausted by the time it’s done!
4. Clear out the freezer. Whether you’re using a refrigerator freezer or a chest freezer, take some time to clean it out ahead of time. Throw away food that is unrecognizable or has been in there through more than one season and move ingredients and meals that still need to be used to the top so that you can use them up first.
5. Use freezer bags or vacuum sealer bags to freeze as much as you can. This will allow you to stack them flat and fit more in your freezer.
6. Label, label, label. Be sure to label everything with the name of the meal, the date it was frozen or an expiration date and instructions for cooking it. You can make these labels ahead of time as well to save yourself time on your cooking day.
7. Take a break when needed. I love this tip from the Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites book. If you start to feel your stress level rising, take a few minutes to step outside and get away from the kitchen before heading back in to finish up!
Once-a-Month Cooking Resources
A couple of you mentioned that you’d love to see vegetarian plans for once-a-month cooking, so I did some searching, and here are two that I found:
- A Soy Vegetarian OAMC Plan, Ellen’s Kitchen
- OAMC – Vegetarian Plan, Fractured Frugal Friends
If you’re looking for books with recipes and plans laid out for you, here are a few options:
- Once-A-Month Cooking and Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites
- Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
- Everything Meals for a Month
- The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy
- Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk and Enjoy by the Serving
And finally, be sure to check out these websites for everything you want to know about OAMC cooking and more:
- Once a Month Mom
- Official Once-A-Month Cooking website
- Once A Month Cooking World
- Organized Home: Freezer Cooking Guide
If you’re a veteran OAMC-er, share your best tip! If you haven’t yet tried once-a-month cooking, are you ready to put a date on the calendar to give it a try?
And if you’re looking for another opportunity to win the Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites book, be sure to head over to Food for My Family to enter!