Hopefully you have been following all of the posts I recently finished regarding my Once a Month Cooking adventure. If not, they are definitely a must read. By now, you should be foaming at the mouth for the chance to get moving on this great opportunity for meal simplification, but maybe you are caught at where to begin. “What meals should I choose? How do I plan within our budget?”
Today’s post is going to answer some of the questions and give one final push of encouragement in your general direction. If you are able to eat each month, there is a OAMC solution for you! Don’t give up.
What Meals Can I Use for OAMC?
Although this may seem like a difficult question to answer, the solution is actually pretty simple: almost any meal that can be cooked in advance and freezes without issue. Simple dishes like sauces, meats, stir-fries, etc. can often be made in advance, frozen, and then re-heated for an enjoyable and easy to prepare meal option. You do not need a special “Once a Month Cooking” label on a meal for it to work, just a little thinking outside of the box for preparation.
My top recommendations for OAMC meals are:
- Chicken/Meat dishes that do not require pre-cooking, but a simple marinade/sauce in the bag with the raw/frozen meat- These meals are quick and easy to get right into the freezer, as well as prepare on cooking day. Take the prepared bag of meat and marinade/sauce out of the freezer and thaw in the fridge overnight and all day, during which time it will also begin absorbing all the delicious flavors of the sauce/marinade. Cook as usual and enjoy with desired sides. Easy!
- Large batches of Spaghetti/Pasta sauce- This is such a simple solution for the meal plan. If you do not want to use it entirely for a pasta night, you can also use the prepared sauce for pizza, lasagna, over a meat of choice, etc. Creativity is your friend here.
- Chilis- Chili tends to be such a simple dish to make anyway, especially when utilizing the crockpot/slow cooker! Having the meat already made up and cooked takes one more step out of the way on cooking day and makes everything dump and go. Perfect solution to already busy homes! Add a batch of brown rice and side of steamed broccoli or a salad on the side and you’re all set.
- Dry Mix Based Soups- One of the easiest dishes I made so far was made up of all dried ingredients, plus the addition of broth/stock. The soup was delicious, filling, and could easily be stretched with a loaf of bread. For our brood, it was plenty, and that is saying a lot. Find recipes that are made up of dried beans, lentils, rice, etc. and make up the batches ahead, storing in either jars or baggies. Once the meal’s night comes along on your ready-made food calendar, simply pour everything into your pot, add the broth, and cook until done. Beautiful.
- Homemade Pizzas- Pizza is a much loved meal at our house (actually it is on the menu for tonight, yay!), so anything I can do to make the day’s work easier is worth the effort. I have found recipes for freezable homemade crusts, or freezable pre-made dough. If you do not wish to make the dough in advance, you could also focus on prepping as much of the other components as possible ahead: chopping and freezing veggies, setting aside a specific measurement of shredded cheese, making a “from scratch” sauce, etc. Everything that is done in advance helps to simplify the dinner event. Anyone in charge of meals can appreciate that.
Don’t Over-think This!
Whatever you do, don’t over-think this! Just get started, somewhere. Jump in with two feet, because the reality is that you are going to learn as you go, even with the best plan put together. You are going to find that A does not work well for your family, and that next time you need to be more thoughtful about C. It is just the name of the game…Life.
I know you are going to do great and see awesome blessings from the diligent time and effort you put forth in your meal preparations. I can’t wait to hear all about it! Comment below so I can hear how it goes!