Mar 26, 2009

OAMC - baby steps!

If you've been following my Bricklaying series, you know that I recently touched on a great frugal cooking method, Once a Month Cooking. I haven't yet delved whole-hog into the process yet, but I have been doing a LOT of reading about it...I'm one of those people that needs to make it work in my head before I can make it work in practice :)

I did, however, take a few baby steps towards that end. I haven't figured out yet how I can set aside a whole day for cooking but I DID use some of my cooking time a little more efficiently during the week!

For me, time is the biggest issue. I could handle the massive cooking, the packaging, the project management involved...but with both of us working full- or near full time, our days off are precious. I already cook full meals in the evenings, so I started to review my recipes to see which ones would be simple enough to double and freeze - and found that I had a pretty good arsenal to work with!

By just doubling a recipe that freezes well, you're guaranteeing you have at least one (or more if you usually have leftovers) meal completely prepared in your stockpile. You're adding minimal effort because you're already making one meal for your family. And if you're meal planning around the sales or your stockpile (as I do), you're getting more mileage out of those low prices AND saving yourself time down the line.

Last week, I had planned to make Bee Rocks - when I make a single batch, I usually end up with 6 or 7 for the freezer anyway...doubling the filling was easy (I used a dutch oven instead of a skillet because of the volume) and the dough is simple to make in multiple batches. I made the filling in the afternoon to save a little time, but you could easily make it a day or two ahead since it cooks again once it's in the dough. The assembly took about 40 minutes total - it added about 20 minutes to my dinnertime routine but I now have twenty-five neat foil packages in the freezer - that's after our meal for the night! That would feed us at least 3-5 times.

The other dip in the OAMC pool came on Pizza night - this is a weekly occurence in our house, so I always have the ingredients handy. I found new inspiration over at Once a Month Mom, where they posted a recipe for Pizza roll ups as part of this month's plan. Again, I just doubled my dough recipe on pizza night, and while the dinner pizza was baking I assembled the Pizza Roll-up. (My husband dubbed it "sushi-roni") The pizza rollups cooked while we ate our dinner, and I ended up with 12 pizza pinwheels for the freezer with almost NO extra effort! Two of them make a decent serving if you have them with a salad or side.

We've used the pizza rolls for lunch at work, and the Bee Rocks will make a nice easy dinner paired with some leftover soup from this week - it's not QUITE full-court OAMC, but it's a start!

*I'll be relabeling entries at The Recipe Mission to include OAMC as I find which ones work best!

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Maggie said...

I tried the traditional OAMC with a huge shopping day and a huge cooking/assembly day, and I found it a little overwhelming. What I have started to do instead, is like you, I double recipes when I can. Also if I find a good deal on a certain meat I might assemble a number of meals using that meat all in one day and freeze them- for example multiples of a few standby recipes that use browned ground beef. I can usually do this in an hour or two, so it does not take over my entire day.

Keely said...

I find that when I plan to do this, my husband compensates by being unusually hungry. So I don't end up with my extras. Guess I should triple the recipe.

Jen @ Sunshine4Teachers said...

Suzie, I have two friends that trade kids for the day to get theirs done. One mom shops on Monday and cooks on Tuesday while one of the moms watches her kids and then they switch the next so the other mom can do her shopping and cooking day. They used to try to do both in one week, but their kids all were ready for a break from each other after two full days, so they went to just one mom per week. I've never gotten organized enough to do it, but they swear by it!

Mommarock said...

A good recipe to do is make a head meatballs. Especially if you can find ground beef on sale. You make the big batch of meatballs ahead of time, and then ration them out and freeze say 3 meatballs each for a night of spaghetti. Hubby can't eat extra, since you only thaw out one package at a time. They also work great for beef stroganoff, meatball subs... and other recipes.