You may remember that I tried Once a Week Cooking a while back, but that didn't work out so well. Particularly because there was still a fair amount of preparation to do before eating the meals, and since they actually just stayed in the fridge for the week, a lot of the food went bad before we ate it. So I decided to try the once a month freezing the meals and see how it goes.
I used a plan from Once a Month Mom, I chose the diet plan. It's nice because it gives you a shopping list, individual recipes and step by step directions for the most efficient cooking day.
On Friday I went to Costco and did a fair amount of damage.
Saturday morning I got up and went straight to the kitchen to get started.
Step 1 is chopping all of the...well things that needed to be chopped....there were 24....
After cooking/preparing a couple of the meals, we cleaned up and took a break to go to a Barbecue festival with our friends Josh and Lauren. We had been given free VIP tickets from some other friends who weren't able to go.
So we enjoyed some good food and good company for the afternoon!
When we got home we resumed cooking. I say "we" because at this point I was desperate for Harrison to help me...I was in over my head!
Even with his help we didn't quite finish all of it, so my one day of cooking has turned into parts of about 3 days. Oh well.
So here's what worked for me and what didn't for a once a month cooking day.
I completed all of the grocery shopping in one day. I went to Costco for most of the items and then made a quick trip to Publix for a few things that Costco didn't have. Once a Month Mom does put out the menu early so that you can shop for sales throughout the month, but I liked keeping it to one trip.
Chopping all of the chopping things at one time before starting to prepare. This took a long time, but was totally worth it. If I was preparing each recipe and having to stop to chop, it would take a lot longer. However, the website does recommend doing all the chopping the night before. I did not do that and I DEFINITELY wish I had....probably could have finished the meals if I had done that.
The step-by-step plan for preparing the meals in a specific order was really helpful. It planned out when to turn the oven to a certain temp and then raise it for the next recipe, as well as using the crockpot to cook some meals while you work on others. Takes all the guess work out.
Also, I decided to start with a completely clean kitchen. All of the dishes were clean and put away where they live (which made me realize how badly I need to re-organize the cabinets, but that's another post...). This made it really easy to find dishes and utensils that I needed, and also gave me an empty sink to wash things in and an empty dishwasher for all the dirty dishes.
What didn't work:
I really don't think I organized everything well enough ahead of time. I purchased all the items and chopped everything without really know what ingredients were for which recipe. So once I actually started preparing I was running all over to get each ingredient. The second half of cooking (which I did on Sunday) was much better since I read through each recipe, grouped ingredients and prepared bowls and cooking utensils. (Of course, that's how my mom taught me to cook, I just wasn't thinking it through...)
Bad time maintenance - I just had no clue how long this would take. Although I really think it will be great to pull dinner out of the freezer, it was a LOT of time. I would just take that into consideration if I did it again. Also, it would probably take less time if I didn't stop so frequently to take pictures....
And finally, what really didn't work for me was that Harrison took one of the lunches to work and put it in the fridge and someone threw it away! She thought it had been there so long that it froze. Argh! I hate for things to be wasted.
All in all it was a good experience. I can't really speak to how good the meals are yet, but look for those reviews coming soon.