Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Once A Month Cooking

I have a new obsession. It may sound completely crazy to you guys, but I LOVE cooking once a month. I have been using the recipes and plan from Once A Month Mom at it is going so great. When I first saw this idea, I was completely intimidated. How do you buy groceries for a whole month? Will that even fit in the cart or in my pantry and fridge when I get home? It would take forever to do all that shopping!  Am I reading your mind right now???




Then there was the cooking! Based on her plan, she does it all in one day. Two small kids and my short attention span, I knew that would not work for me. This is my fourth month to do it, and it generally takes me 3 days using short blocks of time to get it done. Richard helped me a lot this month and that made it more fun and much faster!
BBQ Chicken bites from this months menu. Who needs Chik-fil-a?
See the June traditional menu for the recipes.
So here is how it works: You pick your menu (traditional, healthy, gluten-free, whole foods...so many choices!) Most of the recipes are from food bloggers and you can jump straight to their sites to read the detailed instructions. Once your menu is selected, you then download the shopping list. It is in excel format, so you can edit the number of people you will be cooking for and also add to the list as needed.
Strawberry Yogurt Pops. Such a yummy treat!
On my shopping week, I look at the circulars to see who has the best deals. Ordinarily, that is WAY too much work, but when you are buying for the whole month, it is worth glancing at. I normally hit 1-3 stores on my shopping trip to get the best deals. Are you ready for this...I hope you are because here is the best part: I spend between $200 and $250 FOR THE WHOLE MONTH! Did you catch that? I don't know what everyone's grocery budgets are, but when I shop once a week or even more, I never come anywhere near that number! I do still buy diapers, formula, milk and fruit throughout the month, but the overall savings is pretty great!

Then you bring it all home and it is cooking time! Here is my favorite part...the recipes are also available in excel format. You can download them and then enter in the number of people you are cooking for and it will adjust the recipes! Isn't that so cool??? I download them to the ipad and put the ipad on my easel in the kitchen. There is a detailed instruction list so that things flow quickly and efficiently with the cooking and packaging of all of the foods. If you are a super organized person, you can also download labels with reheating instructions. I typically just write with sharpie on a blank label or straight on the baggie.
Barbacoa. We have LOVED this!
Okay, one other thing I know you are probably worried about...where do you store all of that food??? I have to confess, we do have a deep freeze from my "dairy cow" days when Tripp was in NICU, so we have plenty of space. But it would fit in a pretty empty standard freezer. The instructions show you how to package everything so it is flat and stacks easily. I also invested in some of those freezer to oven Gladware containers and they stack so well and have been great.

Here are some more benefits that we have found:
- We eat out a lot less! With so much good food readily available, the temptation to just grab something is gone.
- My kitchen gets filthy during the cooking days, but then I get to clean it really good and it stays that way for the rest of the month!
- If a family has something going on and a meal would bless them, it is no big deal to grab something and take it to them.
- The diet menus have calories and points on them. If you are tracking, you could just write the points on the baggie and it would be easy to keep up with your daily totals.

I know I sound like a Once a Month Mom ad, but I am really just a big fan, so I wanted to give her a shout out! I am sure you could do this with your own family recipes too. For now, the less I have to think the better! Thanks Once a Month Mom!

Anyone else try something like this? I would love to hear!

6 comments:

  1. i may have to check this out! i'll let you know how it goes:)

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  2. I have considered this, more than once, but have been apprehensive. You've almost given me the courage to go ahead and do it!

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  3. Jenn,
    Thanks so much for writing about your experience. I will share this with our audience as I am SURE they would benefit from hearing your story.

    As for everyone else, you CAN do it! Start with a mini menu (10 days) if a month scares you.

    Once A Month Mom (Tricia) :)

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  4. I have been "stalking"the menus for a bit and I think I may give it a try now,I was very concerned on the budget part, but now I'm a little more at ease, this might be on the agenda for later this week! Thank you

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  5. I have done three months with Once a Month Mom (all Diet menus) I LOVE them. I have a family of 7 (so I cook for 8) and our budget is usually between $500 - $600 depending on the month. I don't loose produce due to not using it all up because I cook right away. I have three friends who are hooked too. One of them came over last month and cooked with me to see the process before she went home and cooked for her family. I HIGHLY recommend it!

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  6. Thanks everyone for the great feedback! I hope you all try it...let me know if you do! You can also divvy the recipes out among friends and then swap to ease on the number of dishes you make.

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