Once a month cooking, anyone?

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navigator9

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Since I knew I was going to be snowed in yesterday, I prepared when I went shopping, and decided to do some cooking and freezing. I've done this before, and I wonder why I don't do it more often. I spent the entire day cooking and freezing individual portions of meals to last me a month. The full day of cooking is a drag, but so worth it. A whole month of not having to cook is like a gift to myself!

I now have pea soup, minestrone soup, spaghetti sauce and meatballs, refried bean burritos, and Thai turkey burgers to eat in lettuce wraps. I also have individual portions of salmon from Costco, big bag of mixed vegs from Costco, and individual portions of brown rice/quinoa.

The freedom of not having to cook for a month is dizzying! It also means no pots and pans to wash! With spring around the corner (I keep trying to convince myself as I look out at the thermometer and all that snow!) I love the idea of being able to spend my time outdoors and not in the kitchen. I like eating healthy, but I don't like cooking every day, so this is perfect for me. I wonder if any of you out there do something similar. There are a lot of websites that have guidelines for doing this, but most of them involve cooking for families, so I've just come up with my own dishes that work for me in individual portions. I would imagine doing this if you have a whole family to cook for would really save a lot of time. You just have to be disciplined enough to spend that one day a month of drudge work.

It makes me so happy to look in the freezer and see this...wheeeeeee!!!

freezer.jpg
 

penelopejane

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Great idea but you have to have a lot of freezer space. I used to have a large 2 door fridge/freezer which was great. Now I have a small upside down fridge/freezer and I can only fit one lasagne (about 10 serves) along with everything else (bread, meat, desserts etc.) your containers are much better than mine because they stack so well!

When my son visits the freezer gets cleared out because he is lazy but loves lasagne!

Excellent idea though.
 
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toxikon

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I tried the once a month cooking thing but I ended up not wanting to eat the meals all month! I need more variety. I did love not having to do dishes and having food ready as soon as I get home from work.

I've settled on once a week meal prep. I make about 3 big meals, somewhere between 8-12 servings each, they mostly last a week but allow for some wiggle room if we'd rather have a salad or something instead.
 

makemineirish

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Since I knew I was going to be snowed in yesterday, I prepared when I went shopping, and decided to do some cooking and freezing. I've done this before, and I wonder why I don't do it more often. I spent the entire day cooking and freezing individual portions of meals to last me a month. The full day of cooking is a drag, but so worth it. A whole month of not having to cook is like a gift to myself!

I now have pea soup, minestrone soup, spaghetti sauce and meatballs, refried bean burritos, and Thai turkey burgers to eat in lettuce wraps. I also have individual portions of salmon from Costco, big bag of mixed vegs from Costco, and individual portions of brown rice/quinoa.

The freedom of not having to cook for a month is dizzying! ...I like eating healthy, but I don't like cooking every day, so this is perfect for me. I wonder if any of you out there do something similar. There are a lot of websites that have guidelines for doing this, but most of them involve cooking for families, so I've just come up with my own dishes that work for me in individual portions. I would imagine doing this if you have a whole family to cook for would really save a lot of time. You just have to be disciplined enough to spend that one day a month of drudge work.

It makes me so happy to look in the freezer and see this...wheeeeeee!!!
Heck, it makes me happy to see your freezer, both for the effortless (from here-on) meals and the stellar organization. Kudos!

I think that the sites that recommend this for families do it weekly, which makes sense. If one day of drudge work results in a month of prepared meals for one, doing so for a family of four works out to once a week. Either way, I can never quite make this work for me, because I want to eat what I crave. I never know what that is in advance:).

That being said, I don't really cook EVERY night either. I probably make a more labor-intensive meal once a week, eat leftovers (straight or re-invented) another couple of nights, do something quick and easy (pasta, salad, tuna) once or twice a week and hit up at least one happy hour with stellar food discounts.
 

HowieRoll

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The "What's For Dinner" question is one that looms overhead in our household of two every day (except Pizza Friday, of course). Once a month cooking seems like a dream.

But mostly I am in awe over how organized your freezer is, and would be embarrassed to show a photo of what's going on in ours!
 

TeresaT

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I tried that once. Key word being once. I was really excited about it, right up until the storm knocked the power out for a few days and I lost all of my hard work. I live on Signal Mountain. If the wind blows too hard, the power goes out. I should have known better. I don't cook any more. I usually buy frozen dinners or (more often) pick up something on the way home. Lately, I've been juicing veggies and eating soup. One day I'll buy a generator and try your idea again. I like the idea of knowing what's in my food and that clean hands prepared it.
 

Arimara

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I can't only get by with the cooking 2-3 times a week. Once a week is great but it requires room I don't have and frankly, I like living on the edge of my kitchen.
 

dibbles

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I do a bit of a hybrid of this idea. I love making soup, and make a big batch. We have it for a couple of dinners, and the rest gets put in containers and into the freezer. Then we use it for an easy meal sometime within the month.

When we have too many bell peppers ready in the garden, I make a big batch of stuffed peppers and freeze them in vacuum sealed bags. Same with squash. I don't can veggies any more so I stew tomatoes and freeze them so they are ready for chili. Roma tomatoes get roasted with balsamic vinegar and frozen and are ready for my favorite tomato basil soup.

It is so nice to have meals ready to go. The older I get, the less I enjoy cooking it seems. Good job on the hard work of getting all that prepared. Now enjoy the spring!
 

BrewerGeorge

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I can see how it would be really useful when feeding one person. After having four kids at home, I'm already struggling to cook for just three now that only the youngest is left. I imagine it will be worse when it's just the two of us adults in a few years.

Not be a party-pooper, but I would feel remiss not to caution you about the food-safety aspect of preparing and freezing that much in a single day, however. A home freezer like the one above a fridge isn't going to be able to freeze that much stuff fast enough to satisfy rigorous food safety requirements. And starting with very-hot food to minimize microorganisms in the first place will ironically exacerbate the problem of excessive freezing time. It's a Catch-22. The risk is admittedly minor in a clean home kitchen, but it wouldn't be okay in a restaurant for example. That said, I'd probably do just as you have done, but it's worth mentioning that the best way to do it would be to start chilling all those containers in a salted ice bath in a cooler to get them below 40F quickly before moving them to the freezer.
 

dixiedragon

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Where did you get those containers for the soup? They look like they work well? Seal well, good portion size, etc.

I am not that dedicated, but when I make a batch of soup I really try to immediately freeze half of it. Otherwise it gets shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten and then it gets thrown out.
 

IrishLass

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There used to be a really cool business in our area that we used to go to. It was set up like a buffet with all the prepared ingredients laid out for several different, complete meals/dishes to feed us a different dinner all week. All we needed to do was bring an ice-filled cooler, grab their menu for the week planner/blueprint and put our meals together, pack them in the cooler and stick them in the freezer when we got home. Every week for a month they had a different menu plan which then got rotated the next month. It was awesome for us until they closed down.

I tried doing it for myself after that, but it didn't always work out for us time-wise/organizational-wise, and I let it fall by the wayside. I can't begin to tell you how nice it was having someone else to all the hard work of organizing a varied menu and preparing all the ingredients for it beforehand. It's too bad they went out of business....at least the one by us anyway. There still might be others like it around somewhere.

My freezer is big enough for a week of meals as opposed to a month of meals, but I'd really like to get back into doing this. It's so nice to be able to have a ready answer to that infernal "What's for dinner?" question that comes up everyday. :lol:


IrishLass :)
 

randycoxclemson

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We tried this awhile back (probably before kids) and it just didn't work for us. Probably a combination of small freezer and desire to eat fresh food as often as possible (back then, we were vegetarian, too). The stuff we froze just didn't taste all that great when we nuked it in the microwave.

Of course, now with the kids, we make 2 or 3 different meals each night so trying to prep that much stuff for a month would be a nightmare (and a storage problem).

But I do admire your freezer space. :)
 

Susie

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I used to make double batches of anything that froze well when it was just me and the kids, then froze half in single serve containers (exactly the ones you have!). This gave us soups/stews/gumbos, chicken pot pies, red beans and rice, etc in the freezer if I was tired from work. That way each child could pick their own food and everyone had something different.

Now, however, I am feeding a hungry hubby. The cooking is totally different now.
 

shunt2011

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I always make enough for an army when making soups, chili, stews etc. I always freeze the extra. Otherwise, I pretty much cook every night. Mostly simple healthy stuff. It's just my husband and I and he's not perfect cry.
 

makemineirish

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I always make enough for an army when making soups, chili, stews etc. I always freeze the extra. Otherwise, I pretty much cook every night. Mostly simple healthy stuff. It's just my husband and I and he's not perfect cry.
I am assuming that this is an auto-correct failure (stupid smartphone!). Perhaps you meant that he is not picky? Otherwise, I feel compelled to console and reassure you. No one is perfect, and most are easily trained with a little consistency and positive reinforcement:)
Save
 

shunt2011

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I am assuming that this is an auto-correct failure (stupid smartphone!). Perhaps you meant that he is not picky? Otherwise, I feel compelled to console and reassure you. No one is perfect, and most are easily trained with a little consistency and positive reinforcement:)
Save

You are correct. Dang auto correct. He's not picky. He will eat a sandwich if need be.
 

navigator9

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To address the main issues...It doesn't require a ton of space, but you do have to use every inch. These stacking containers work for me, I get them at the supermarket, both the store brand and I think "Glad." They hold 2 cups. I used to use freezer baggies, lay them flat and stack them, but I like that the containers are reusable. And believe me folks, my freezer doesn't look like this all the time, far from it! It's only when I've done this, that it looks that organized.

Do I eventually get bored only eating whats in the freezer? Sure. Is it a trade off I'm willing to make for the freedom of not spending time cooking and cleaning pots and pans? You bet! And remember, I don't do it all the time. Most of the time, like many of you, when I make something like soup or chili, I'll make a big batch of it, and eat some now, and freeze a bunch for later. I figure any meal I don't have to cook from scratch is a bonus! Like Dibbles said, the older I get, the less I enjoy cooking. I still enjoy it...I just don't want to do it every single day.

So I don't do this all the time, but I knew I was going to be snowed in for at least a day, and I know that Spring will eventually arrive in this chilly corner of the world, and I'll want to be busy outdoors, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the situation. I've never done it in the summer, because then there is just so much fresh stuff, and who feels like heavy stews, and soups? But when it's cold outside, it sure is nice to have a bunch of ready to eat, soups, stew, chili, and I forgot stuffed peppers this time, but yes, I've made them before and they work well too, yum!
 

Zany_in_CO

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It's so nice to be able to have a ready answer to that infernal "What's for dinner?" question that comes up everyday. :lol:
If it's Tuesday, hubby cooks wild-caught salmon. If it's Wednesday, it's broiled chicken breast, green beans and coleslaw from KFC! LOL We are VERY fortunate to have several nice eateries and fast food joints within a few miles of where we live. Chili's for BBQ ribs, broccoli & baked potato; Jasmine Chinese Restaurant for a mixed menu of Far East Cuisines, including sushi, Pho, Viet Namese noodle bowl, and my personal favorite Cantonese dishes that make up the bulk of the menu. McDonald's Big Breakfast includes pancakes that are just the right size and better than IHOP -- also, there's enough food to save half for another day.

What we've found is that we can eat as cheaply getting take out as we can buying groceries that eventually may end up getting tossed down the disposal because we didn't use something up fast enough. Ditto for leftovers.

We both like to cook, and we cook ahead once or twice a week. Usually casseroles, soups, and tonight Hubby made Joe's Special: Hamburger, spinach, egg & wild rice. Tomorrow I'm making kielbasa, potatoes, carrots, celery, & cabbage. Some others: Spaghetti Pie (freezes well); Reuben Casserole: layered noodles, corned beef, sauerkraut, tomatoes, 1000 Island dressing, rye crumbles & caraway seeds on top -- the list goes on.

In our freezer we keep steak, chops, ribs, etc for a quick thaw in the microwave. Then either broil or pan fry. Add a baked potato (or oven fries) and mixed veges from Costco (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots). We also have Stouffer's Fit Kitchen frozen dinners -- good in a pinch. Another fave is hamsteak and baked sweetpotato.
 

Susie

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Oh, yeah, I bought, and still buy, family size packages of all meats. Then I take sandwich bags and bag each piece of meat individually, then toss them all in a gallon freezer bag. This allows me to take out exactly how many pieces of *whatever* meat that I need without fighting with a frozen lump-o-meat. I can then toss those into another gallon bag, seal it, then drop that into a sink of tepid water for fast thawing. I also buy hamburger meat at Sam's. I portion out 3/4 of it into 1-1 1/2 lb portions in quart ziplocs, and make the remainder into hamburger patties so they will be ready to thaw and cook.

I have a big freezer that is mostly meat that I buy when things are on sale. You know at Thanksgiving and Christmas when turkeys and hams are on sale? I load half my freezer with them. You can pay as low as $0.39/lb for turkeys, and $0.53/lb for ham. That is a lot of meat for a little. And we love both. I buy whole pork loins for $0.99/lb on sale. I can make pork chops, get a small pork loin, and get chunks for stir fry (that I freeze in the marinade). When chicken parts are on sale, I buy a couple or four family packs to freeze. I save a ton of money that way.

I also load up on frozen veggies on sale and canned veggies. Some weeks we don't even need to go to the grocery store.
 

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