At one point, I loved going grocery shopping to find deals. I couponed weekly and went to the stores at least a few times a week. Oh how times have changed here. I have actually started doing once a month shopping. I will do a big haul of our meats, pastas, cheeses etc. Basically everything I can get away with shopping for once a month. I will then do a quick shop every 2 weeks for the milk, breads and produce.
Since I started this, I wanted to start once a month cooking. It’s a day when you cook your meals for the month then freeze them. This was my first time doing this and I made about 15 meals including:
- Meatballs (completely cooked then frozen)
- Spaghetti Sauce (cooked in a pot then frozen)
- Hamburger Patties (uncooked but seasoned and shaped then frozen)
- Chili and Taco Meat (cooked in a large skillet then frozen)
- Chicken Packets (seasoned and sauced then frozen uncooked)
- Pork Chops (seasoned and sauced then frozen uncooked)
What I used:
- FoodSaver Vac 1050 Vacuum-Sealing Kit, White
~ My sister in law gave me this which she bought at a yard sale. I love it, works great so if you find a Foodsaver at Goodwill or a yard sale, snatch it up. I did find a “backup” vacuum sealer at Savers for a buck on dollar day. I have also included an amazon link below, it’s only $35, not bad and you can buy the bag rolls at Walmart or Target or at Amazon.
- Hamburger Press, you can find these at Walmart I believe for under $10. I use a heavy duty metal one but I found a press for $3.69 with free SS shipping from Amazon.com: Norpro 507 Hamburger Press
I loved doing the once a month cooking because there are nights when I am too tired to cook. I can grab something from the freezer and pop it in the oven, skillet or slow cooker. Overall, I spent about 4 hours prepping, cooking and sealing. It wasn’t too overwhelming and my recipes were pretty simple.
- Make a list, scope out the recipes you want and make a grocery list of the items you need. Shop the day before and don’t forget the seasonings!
- Plan out a whole day for this, with prepping, chopping, cooking and sealing it can get time consuming.
- Make sure you have room in your freezer, by designating one section to frozen meals you will always be able to grab the meal the night before and place it in the fridge to thaw and cook the next day.
- Bulk cook the items at once, for example I bought 4 pounds of lean ground beef. I cooked 2 pounds together and seasoned it and broke it out by pound and marked it with chili/taco meat. The other two pounds I put in a bowl and made 4 batches of meatballs and froze each batch individually.
- Make sure your bag is sealed tight by pressing on it to make sure no air is let out. I always do a second or third seal to ensure no air is going to get in there.
- Have a sharpie and be sure to date everything with instructions how to cook it.
- If you are freezing something in bulk that has the potential to get frozen together, first freeze them on a cookie sheet for about an hour then freeze them in a bag. For example, I did this with my hamburger patties so they wouldn’t freeze into one big patty.
- Cooked or uncooked? I did some searching and I wasn’t sure, should I cook all meals before I freeze them? I found mixed reviews and I think ultimately it’s up to you and the recipe you use. For all of my chicken I just broke it out into dinner servings and froze it raw with the marinade or seasonings and that way I could just throw it in the skillet. For something like the meatballs, I wanted them cooked before hand to make it easier on me later.
I used a couple cookbooks, a couple of website and made some up these up on my own.
- Once-A-Month Cooking: A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Everyday
- http://onceamonthmom.com/ She offers great recipes and meal plans for free!
- http://once-a-monthcooking.com/how.html A few tips on getting started.
- http://www.realfood4realpeople.com/freeze.html List of what freezes well and what doesn’t!
I’ll share some recipes soon!!
*There are Amazon affiliate links included in this post, all opinions are my own.