What is OAMC or Once A Month Cooking? Its a method of producing several meals in a one or two day-long cooking session. Meals are prepared, then frozen. This makes cooking and clean-up minimal for the remainder of the month, giving you more time with your family.
Do you get busy with the kids, schooling, chores/work and forget to plan your menu? Have days where you're so tired the last thing you want to do is cook a meal for your family? Dont know what to cook?
I hate to admit it but I have to say YES to all those! I'm so busy these last few months that I feel I've lost control and I dont like that feeling, I like even less admitting it. My toddlers seem to be super busy (I wanted to use another 3 letter B word, but it doesnt sound nice).
Heres the good news, I'm not perfect and I wouldnt want to even try to be! Who needs that kind of pressure?!
I am, however, setting goals.
One of my first is to gain control of mealtime.
Let me tell you, there is a lot out there so please share what you know! Here is what I found interesting AND usful about OAMC.
I havent decided yet if I will cook extra, quadruple when I cook, I already double for my family size. Or if my girls and I will have an all day cooking event. I might even try both and see which one goes better.
You have to be very organized to cook such a large amount of food at one time and package and label well.
Write down all your plans in advance. Find the recipes, plan amounts, then make your grocery list. The best sites around the internet have grocery lists included - check them out! Make sure you have enough heavy duty freezer bags.
Never cook on the same day that you shop. Shopping for this quantity of food is very difficult, and you'll be exhausted if you try to cook too. Remember, we want this to be a fun experience and one you'll repeat!
Make sure you keep a notebook or tablet by your freezer to keep track of all the dishes you have prepared. This way you can make sure you have eaten all your chicken recipes before embarking on another cooking session. These lists also help you plan your month for the most varied and healthy diet.
Some plans recommend shopping on one day, Friday, doing major prep work on Saturday, then finishing and freezing all the meals on Sunday. This is a great idea because you won't get too overwhelmed with a lot of work. OAMC is kind of like exercise; don't do so much at the beginning that you never want do it again!
Take your recipes, and break them down into ingredient amounts (chopped onions for spaghetti, soups & casseroles can all be done together, then separated) When you are ready to begin cooking, do this preparation first, so ingredients are prepared when you get down to the individual recipes.
Pre-cook any meats or other ingredients which will be needed in assembling your recipes, such as layered casseroles, etc.. Once this is done, you can set soups & stews on to simmer while you assemble other recipes.
When assembling casseroles, or other recipes, it is helpful to use aluminum pans which are disposable, OR to line cake pans or casserole dishes with heavy aluminum foil so they can be removed from the original pans once frozen. You may want to mark your finished frozen entrees with not only the name, date & number of servings, but also with the size of the pan the entree was originally frozen in, so you can pop it back inside the original pan when thawing and cooking it for your family.
When freezing, your foods will freeze quicker if they are placed at the bottom of your freezer. Cold falls, and they will freeze faster when you do this. Once frozen, you can stack them in sections, or on shelves so you know where to find the meals when you want them. It is very helpful to freeze soups and stews in freezer quality zip baggies, laying them on their sides while freezing, so they can be stacked like books on your freezer shelves. This will also aide in quick defrosting when you are ready to use the contents.
More Freezing Tips -
To successfully freeze foods, there are some simple rules you need to follow. The two most important bits of advice are to make sure you wrap the foods very well and that you keep careful track of what is in your freezer. Freezer burn is dehydration of the food caused by improper packing and wastes food.
More info on foods and freezing ck this great site out! http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/freeze.html``
This has a great list of foods and how long they can be stored. http://busycooks.about.com/library/lessons/blfreezer.htm
I love Chilis salsa and found this recipe! http://www.food.com/recipe/chilis-salsa-59635
Heres a fun idea -
A freezer meal swap is a fun and easy way to fill your freezer with a variety of meals. To start a freezer meal swap, find 3–6 friends interested in swapping. Put together a menu and assign each person one different meal to prepare. Each swap member cooks her assigned meal in her own kitchen, but makes the meal for every person participating in the swap instead of just one batch. In other words, if there are a total of 4 people in the swap, each person will quadruple the recipe and package four meals. Once each member has prepared the meals, arrange a time to get together and trade. Even though you only cooked one recipe, you come home with a variety of dining options.
The only bad thing about this idea is I already need to double recipes just to feed my family dinner, so I'd only get two meals out of this, but love the idea! Any takers???