I have always tried to put leftovers in the freezer for later meals and sometimes doubling up a recipe so that there would be leftovers to store.
But as I searched for more ideas for freezer meals and make ahead meals and menu planning, I came across "OAMC" which stands for Once a Month Cooking. Basically, this means you spend an entire day or a few days cooking at the beginning of the month and then the bulk of your cooking and meals are more or less ready when it's time to eat the rest of the month.
I did a little research (blog hopping) and worried it would be too complicated but several people were talking about doing this and I thought, well, why not give it a try.
I apologize, I didn't take any photos this month. It was more important for me to get "into it" this month. Soon, I hope, it will be second nature and then I can photograph my OAMC days.
I tried to plan ahead what I would make based on my menu for an entire month. However, I could not come up with a full month menu (which I had hoped to post this past Monday for Menu Plan Monday), but I did come up with a few freezer meal ideas.
Since the first Tuesday of the month is 10% off day at Sobey's, I decided to wait to go do some grocery shopping on that day so I could get my meats from there. I usually do my shopping at Superstore because it is cheaper but I do all my meat shopping at Sobey's (except when the Farmers' Market is open) because their meats are better quality, in my opinion.I don't know if I'm really saving money on meats by going for 10% off day but it's what I've always done.
So, this morning I woke up early, partly thanks to my pup who had to potty. I did not allow myself to sit down until I at least got started on my OAMC.
Early in the day, it occurred to me to go to Twitter and follow some OAMC tweets on there, which inspired, encouraged and motivated me to keep going throughout the day. (You can follow me on Twitter @waaoms)
There was some poor planning on my part, but overall it went well considering it is my first time doing this with the intention of cooking specifically to put things in the freezer.
Here's what I accomplished:
4 meals worth of Maple Pork Tenderloin
3 meals worth of Meat Sauce
6 meals worth of Hamburger Soup (+ 2 bowls that I ate for supper tonight)
I also divided a jumbo pack of Chicken Legs into individual ziploc bags for future meals, but did not do anything to prep them.
Tomorrow, I will continue, as I have 1 more pkg of hamburger and a jumbo pack of chicken breasts to deal with. I am not sure exactly what all I will do with this. I'll probably make a hamburger casserole. I wanted to make chili but again due to poor planning, I don't have all the ingredients I will need, as it went in the meat sauce. I thought about making a chicken souvlaki marinade but I did that a couple weeks ago and I still have 6 left in the freezer currently. I also have plenty of chicken breasts that are not prepped in any way in the freezer and some that are chopped up, but not cooked, already. I probably should not have bought the jumbo pack this time but it was a good sale and I eat more chicken than any other meat. Sometimes, though, I forget that things last longer now that it's just me, and so I actually had alot more left than I thought.
Any suggestions you may have regarding chicken, or even the hamburger, let me know!
In addition to the above, I also already had some other meals frozen such as Butternut Squash Soup, and 1 or two meals left of Beef Stew and Hamburger Soup (I made more because I love it in the winter time). It's been really nice to be able to just go to the freezer and pop out a bag of frozen soup or stew and put it in a pot without thawing it first.
What I've Learned So Far:
* I like ziploc bags better than regular bags that use twist ties. They flatten better. The air squeezes out of them better. They are easier to close while full. They take up somewhat less space in the freezer. May be worth spending the extra cents on these for Freezer Meals. Will see how I like it post-freeze.
* Sharpie Pens are not the same as Sharpie Permanent Markers and will smear off the bags. I realized this early on, and switched to the marker.
* Putting out a bowl to use for garbage scrap saves a whole lot of time. Also having a brand garbage bag ready is handy when the bowl gets full.
* Having pre-chopped veggies from the farmer's market was a bonus, I used them in the soup, more in the casserole tomorrow, if I decide to make the casserole.
* Washing dishes as I go along saves heartache at the end of the day. Although it was late when the Hamburger Soup cooled off enough to put away, so I didn't wash that yet. No big deal.
* I think this will become a regular event for me.
I realize that many of you who do OAMC have families and you might wonder why someone like me who is cooking for just themselves would want or need to do OAMC. Truth be told, I really do not need to, but when you're the only cook, and are a bit of a foodie, it can get difficult to cook every single day. I am one of those people who refuse to eat anything that I don't think tastes good. I'm very picky! Also, for me, it gets depressing some days, not having my family here to cook for. Supper was the one time of day we almost always had together, and so it was a special time of the day. Also, I am trying to come up with ways to make my life easier when I go back to work (because I have to go back, it's been a year already), and I think this will help make the transition easier. Or maybe not, but I won't be able to use a job as an excuse why I couldn't cook and therefore am starving. (Yes, I am dramatic like that, especially when I'm upset and depressed.)
Did you do OAMC? What did you make? Share your Freezer Meal and Make-Ahead ideas with me.
Catch me on Twitter tomorrow (Thursday) as I post updates with my second day of OAMC.
- I am a bereaved mother and wife. I began this blog to help me look for the "good things" in life after my daughter, "Babybear", died in July 2005. Three years later, her daddy, my husband, "Bear", died in November 2008. (You'll find a link to their stories on my blog) And now, as difficult as it is, I continue to look for the good things in my life as I learn my new normal with my pup, "Furrybear", at my side. And the angels on my shoulder...