In response to a friend's questions on facebook, I thought I would write at least a little bit about how I do once a month cooking. I started by checking out Once a Month Cooking from the library. I tried their two week plan and thought it worked well for me and my family and gave me more time to do other things around the house, like sewing. Since then I have been doing it on a semi regular basis. I make a ton of meals at one time and use them of the course of the next month to month and a half. (We don't always pull food from our freezer some times we go out, or buy pizza or something like that.)
This month there are 21 different meals. 14 were prepared ahead of time, most of those (8) were doubled, and 1 was tripled. That leaves 8 to be made the day of use. I freeze most of the meals in the large ziploc style plastic containers that are about 6 in deep and 8 in long and 4 in wide. I bought these over the course of several months and just used freezer bags in the mean time. I do use some disposable aluminum casserole pans for some casseroles that need to be assembled ahead of time.
We have a stand up freezer that we use. I know all these containers would not fit into our regular freezer. With the ziploc bags, they stack quite a bit flater, so they would fit more easily into a normal freezer.
The menus change based on what I want to cook and what I know freezes well.
This month's menu is:
(Prepared ahead of time):
2 Colby Beef Lasagnas - I fry the bacon before I do anything. I assemble the whole thing then freeze it. When I want it, I thaw it, then bake according to the direction. (The key is thaw at least over night!)
2 Tailgater Chilis - I let this simmer for a couple of hours then let it cool and freeze. Just thaw and reheat.
1 Hashbrown Pizza - This recipe is not the best, it has some interesting potential, but I haven't found it yet!
3 Bacon Chicken and Dumplings - I add carrots and celery to this recipe and make through adding the crumbled bacon. Then I freeze it.
1 Lentil One Pot Casserole - I have never tried this one before, but I want to incorporate more of this kind of meal.
Autumn stew - this has stew meat, potatoes, carrots, celery, and a little bacon.
2 Honey Mustard Chickens - A friend made this for us and topped it with bacon and cheddar cheese! I usually cook the bacon ahead of time and freeze it in a separate bag, then just thaw cook and serve.
2 Emeril's Beef Stroganoff - This meal is great! It takes some time, but is well worth the results. Once it is put into the casserole dish, it freezes well. Just thaw and cook like the recipe says.
2 Honey Mustard Mini Meatloaves - I make the meatloaves, and freeze them uncooked with the sauce in a separate container. I thaw and cook as the recipe says. I don't make the potatoes, only because I haven't tried freezing those before.
2 Cranberry Chickens - I make this minus the ranch dressing. (The version I have didn't call for that.) The combination didn't sound good to me the first time I made it, but it is REALLY good and the kids love it too!
2 Twelve Boy Currys - This is a great recipe and recommends some fun topping to make it more interesting for the kids (big kids included). I have never really liked curry in the past, but this is now a family favorite.
2 Spaghetti Sauces - This recipe is very good, nothing really out of the ordinary, but good!
1 Pulled Pork (for tacos) - Such an unusual combination (in my mind), but so good! Mix everything together and freeze. When you want to eat it dump it into the crock pot and there you go!
1 Cilantro Beef - Another absolutely amazing meal. Make up through the marinating the meat, then freeze. When ready to eat take out of the freezer and cook in the crock pot. The Pico de Gallo and Citrus Onions are great too, but I don't think they freeze well.
Rice with Pork chops - The version I have calls for a stick of butter, and you top it with pork chops while it is cooking.
Split Pea Soup - I often just mix things together, or buy a mix. Here and here are two recipes that I draw from.
African Peanut Soup - Another unusual combination, but a great soup!
Chicken Tortilla Soup - A recipe where you dump a bunch of stuff into the crock pot and let it go. Good stuff!
2 Aimee's Quick Chicken - Yet another unusual combo, but a good one that everyone here loves.
Chicken Parmesan - This is an old fake it don't make it from real simple magazine (though I couldn't find it with a quick search of their website). It isn't great, but it is different for us and really easy.
Calzones and Pizza - I just use a homemade pizza dough recipe and make either form as I feel the need. I stuff (or top) them with whatever I have on hand. One of the best is just sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.
I hope that helps. THe recipes that don't have links, I can send to you if you want them. I couldn't find these easily available on the web. So the next question (and the one I am currently pondering) is, what's for dinner!
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