Trying Something New

Have you heard of once-a-month-cooking (also called Freezer Cooking)?  I've read a few books where it's mentioned as a wonderful timesaver throughout the week.  The idea is, you spend one weekend day at the beginning of the month shopping for and preparing your meals for the remainder of the month.  You could also try this on a smaller scale, such as once-a-week-cooking.  Not a bad idea, right?

My thought is that although I have no desire to prepare and freeze every meal for the entire month, I can certainly utilize this idea in a number of ways such as trying a few make-ahead and freeze dinner recipes that simply have to be put in the oven on the night I'll be serving them.  I also find it helpful to make up bread, bread dough, dinner roll dough, pizza dough, pie dough, and cookie dough in advance to freeze to be used throughout the month. 

Another timesaver along this line that I've thought of is to freeze a cut of meat in the marinade, this way I won't need to prepare the marinade the day of the meal.  I'll take the meat out of the freezer, put in in the refrigerator to defrost and it can marinate as it defrosts.  That night I can grill, broil, bake or stir fry it.

Last year I tested once-a-month grocery shopping and found it not only saved time but money too.  I prepared my monthly menu and grocery list, spent a couple of hours grocery shopping, and didn't think about it again until the next month.

Here's my plan for testing the once-a-month-cooking:
  • make a monthly menu
  • from the menu, make a shopping list
  • gather store flyers, coupons, etc.
  • plan a day for shopping and cooking (I think I can complete both tasks on the same day, but I'll plan on 2 days the first month just in case)
  • cook and prepare all items that can be made in advance
  • cool all items prior to packaging for the freezer
  • line baking dishes with foil and saran wrap so that once the meal is frozen I can remove it from the baking dish to save freezer space and to free up my baking dishes
  • label, date, and include cooking instructions on each package
I'll share the recipes that I try on my cooking blog as well as reviews on whether or not they were successful.

What types of things do you do in the kitchen to save time and money?


Elisha said...

i have NEVER heard of the idea of lining the baking dish with saran and foil to save on having the baking dish in the deep freeze forever! THAT is AWESOME idea!!! I will keep this in mind as I do a number of meals for people at church and foil pans are pricey and I hate inconveniencing someone to have to return my pan! brilliant.

jillian said...

Okay, that sounds simple enough. Do you organize your menus in order to maximize shopping?

Meg said...

I have heard of this and I think it's a great idea! I don't have the energy right now for a full day or two of cooking, but I have been doing double batches and freezing those for when baby gets here. My favorite thing right now is making double batches of rolls and putting them in the freezer. They are perfect to pull out and reheat for the days I don't get around to making them fresh!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Elisha - so happy to hear the saran wrap idea will be useful for you. :) I don't keep a lot of baking dishes (no need with just 2 of us), so this is the easiest thing for me. Just let the frozen meal un-thaw slightly, then remove the wrap and foil and let completely un-thaw in a baking dish.
Jillian - yes, definitely regarding the organization. Also, during the winter while I'm purchasing veggies/fruits I'll make sure to use up perishables like lettuce at the beginning of the month and save longer lasting veggies like squash and frozen veggies for the end of the month.
Meg - I'm thinking you are definitely a little too busy right now. :) Maybe you'll have time after the baby comes and when you take that break you keep talking about. :)

Snooks said...

This is such a smart time saving idea. I need to do this. Planning meals for a month seems like a large task. How did it go for you when you did it?
I also wanted to tell you how yummy all of your recipe's look. I would like to try all of them at some point. I also love following the cats and dogs and chickens. What a great place you have there. So glad I found your blog.