Once-a-Month Cooking: What, Why and How?

source: Jonathan Moreau
source: Jonathan Moreau

Once-a-month cooking (OAMC) continues to be a growing trend because it allows families to have home-cooked meals throughout the week without the work of slaving away in the kitchen each night.

It involves setting aside one day each month as a cooking day to fill your freezer for the rest of the month. You simply pull out a meal each day, let it defrost and then reheat it (most often in the oven) for a yummy home-cooked meal.

The Benefits of OAMC

For busy families who still want to make eating together each night a priority, once-a-month cooking gives you the best of both worlds — home-cooked meals without the prep or clean up!

Whether you work long hours, have kids in after-school activities and sports, often take meals to friends and church members or just hate to cook, OAMC can take the stress out of your evenings. Buying and cooking in bulk also saves you time and money, and most people choose to do it with a partner so that it’s fun as well!

I’ve mentioned before that I stocked my freezer full before the birth of our daughter, and those meals will probably last us until the end of this month or the beginning of November. I hadn’t necessarily planned to restock it right away, but Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites mentions that it can be great to have a fully stocked freezer during the holidays so that you can focus on holiday baking and other festivities of the season without worrying about what’s for dinner. I love that idea, and I’ll probably plan a day in mid-November to stock my freezer once again!

How It Works

The thought of cooking meals for an entire month in a single day can be overwhelming. However, most people who use this method will tell you that it gets easier each time you do it, and the benefits far outweigh the work involved.

The key to a success is planning ahead. Books like Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites and blogs like Once-A-Month Meals include complete plans with shopping lists, recipes and preparation guidelines to walk you through the step-by-step process of putting your meals together. You can also create your own plan using recipes your family loves, of course, but unless you’re a natural in the kitchen (which I am definitely not!), you may want to try following someone else’s plan first to get an idea of the rhythm of creating multiple meals at the same time.

Most monthly plans include 15 meals, since the other days may involve leftovers, eating out, church functions, etc. Some plans, like those at Once-A-Month Mom, include breakfasts and lunches as well as dinners.

Later this week, I’ll share tips and tricks for making the process easier and more rewarding!

If you’re a once-a-month cook (or have been in the past), do you create your own plans or follow someone else’s? If you’ve been wanting to try OAMC but haven’t, what’s holding you back?