What is OAMC?
Those four big letters shouldn’t scare you or look intimidating. Instead, it should excite you. It means you won’t need to panic because you have meals in the freezer for days when you don’t know which way is up! Once A Month Cooking is just that–you set aside one solid day to cook several recipes in batches.
It is a method of producing several entrees or meals in a one or two day-long cooking session. Meals and entrees are prepared for the next 30 days, then frozen. This makes cooking and clean-up minimal for the remainder of the month, giving you more time with your family, and to pursue personal interests.
I cook often with a friend and sometimes, if there is a recipe my family LOVES, I will make it and double the batch so I have one to serve and one to toss in the freezer. The benefits of cooking this way are:
- You know exactly what is the food your family is eating
- You can control preservatives, dyes, hormones, etc
- It saves TONS on your wallet because you only buy the ingredients needed.
- It saves you time in the kitchen every night.
- It helps you plan your week, knowing you have meals in the freezer
- You can make and pre-wrap individualized portions for nights when you know you’re family won’t all be eating together.
- Relieves stress, all you have to do is grab a meal, dethaw and toss into oven. Voila! You’re super mom!
How do you do it?
You will begin by deciding how many meals you want to make ahead of time. If it’s your first time, I would recommend making no more than three meals. Learning to cook in bulk can be intimidating, but picking out the recipes is the fun part. Research the ingredients and recipes to ensure all ingredients are indeed freezable.
Choose enough recipes to fill about 4 weeks worth of meals for your family. This will generally be around 24 recipes, but may vary depending on how often your family eats out, uses leftovers, wants to cook from scratch, etc.. Try to balance the variety of meals so you aren’t eating only casseroles or only stews & soups.
Make up your grocery list, tailored to the recipes you have chosen for the next four weeks. Be sure to include all items which you don’t already have on hand, including zip baggies, aluminum pans, aluminum foil or other containers/products you will need to prepare the food for freezing.
Be sure to double-check the food you already have on hand, to make sure of the amounts available so you do not run out in the middle of your cooking day.
It is helpful to put all needed ingredients on the same list and then using a highlighter marker, cross off the ingredients you already have on hand. You may want to make a master copy of this list, should you make the same combination of recipes again, as this will save you time when making your list and determining what you need to buy.
Organize the recipes which you will be using for your cooking session. Many folks find that a three-ring binder with vinyl sleeves inside works well for this because they can just wipe the sheets off if they get food on them. You can also add or remove recipes easily with this method of recipe storage.
Often I will save my recipes from e-meals and put these as well as the grocery list inside the sleeve as well.
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. If you’re cooking with friends, this step helps immensely!
Pre-cook any 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 and other recipes, use aluminum pans which are disposable. And keep in mind 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.
When freezing, your foods will freeze quicker if they are placed at the bottom of your freezer.
And if you’re ready to tackle OAMC, here are a few of my favorite recipes to use.
- Indonesian Curried Red Stew
- Mac N Cheese
- Portobello Fajitas
- Sloppy Chicks
- Crock Pot Lasagna
- Sweet & Creamy Enchilada Casserole
- Colorado White Chili
- Black Bean & Rice Burritos
- Spinach Stuffed Shells
- Tortilla Soup
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Stew (Crock Pot)
- French Lentil Soup
- Broccoli and Uncheese Casserole
- Baked Spaghetti Braid
- Tortilla Lime Soup
- Classic Minestrone
- Lentil Spaghetti
- Veggie Pot Pies