Monday, July 18, 2011

Once a month cooking

Have you ever heard of "once a month cooking"?   I hadn't until recently when my friend Tami blogged about it.  The idea is that you do a massive cooking day (or two) and make things in bulk.  In the end you will have cooked enough meals for a month, and they will all be in your freezer needing minimal prep to be able to eat.

Well I thought I would give it a go.  Now I didn't do the full blown craziness and have meals for a month.  We don't need breakfast or lunches, but having quick dinners is a key.  The main website Tami used and which I have referenced is Once a Month Mom.  She gives you a full ingredient list, step by step directions on how to prepare everything, and then how to finish everything off.  But any recipe you like, you could double or triple, and then divide and freeze.  I usually make 3-4 items at one time.  So about 12 meals.

The nice part is, say you need a 1/4 onion for this recipe.  Well in our household, I would usually forget about the rest of the onion before it went bad.  That won't happen when you cook once a month.  The hardest part is finding vegetarian recipes.  But Once a Month Mom just started posting vegetarian meals.  And I have found a few others around the web.  But we have been doing this all summer, and I think I have found some great meals!  The best part - I usually try to cook every other Sunday because we then have someone that cleans our house every other Monday.  And so when I make a total greasy mess of the kitchen, I don't worry about it.  And when we go to eat during the week, there is usually just one pot to clean!  Love, love, love that!

So here are some pictures and links to what we have tried.
In general, we have learned not to freeze the pasta in dishes - soaks up all the liquid and loses flavor.

Fire roasted vegetable pasta - very good.
Buffalo "chicken" bagels - never made it to the freezer - very good and so quick.
Sushi salad - surprisingly good.  Make with carrots, cucumber, avocado.  No "crab".
Mexican verde casserole - ok.
Mexican cornbread casserole - one of our favorites and I was so hesitant to make it because I thought I
wouldn't like it.
Black Beans & Quinoa with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce - had high hopes for it. I think I would freeze the sauce separate from the dish as it all soaked in and lost the flavor.
Polenta Gratin with Spinach & Wild Mushrooms - awesome! I love polenta.
Vegetarian Beef Stroganoff Recipe - love this! Freeze without the noodles.
Breakfast cookies - it's basically a muffin top. So, so good. And I had to make mine with chocolate, cause you know, I am obsessed with chocolate.

Wel I am sure I have made others, but you get the idea. I also have been making my own "beef crumbles". Way better than the store bought stuff, and way cheaper. And when it says to make an 8x8 pan, I have been dividing into 2 bread load pans as that is the perfect size for us. Then I put the other bread pan in the freezer, once frozen I remove and place in a zip lock. Everything else is frozen in a zip lock bag lying flat. Once frozen, I stand them up right in a crate. I have two crates - the top one has one of everything in it. The bottom one has everything else. As I pull one from the top, I move one from the bottom up to the top. Seems to be working!

Chipotle raspberry quinoa
Mexican Verde Casserole

Fire roasted vegetables

Going into freezer
The cooking mess
Breakfast cookies

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