Once a month cooking

Are you ready for this? Because I think it's the greatest.

A week ago I got an email from my sister-in-law Sara, explaining how she had tried Mimi Wilson's Once a month Cooking. I read Sara's play-by-play and thought the idea seemed like a good one, and that hopefully one day I might even try this method. But I had no real intention of getting the book until I really felt I had the time to put into a day of cooking.

However, things changed when I found a few different links online with sample menu's and sample shopping lists for just seven days. Seven meals I could handle.

The beauty of this system is that you are given a menu of meals that includes a list of things you should have in your pantry, items you need to grocery shop for (in categories, which makes shopping EASY AND FAST) and a list of prep tasks so that by the time you are ready to assemble your meals, all of you chopping, dicing and slicing is already done.

You're basically as prepared as a cooking show, simply dumping all of your prepared food items into the pot.

Let me show you with pictures:
I had most items that were listed on this first list. But if I didn't have something (we didn't have soy sauce, eggs and gallon freezer ziplocks) then I simply turned the page and added that item to the grocery list. I got every item listed out of my cupboards so that everything was ready and waiting for their moment to be used in a recipe.

This might be the very best part. Rory and I split up the list, he took one page and I took the other and we were DONE shopping in 25 minutes. I kid you not. Back in the car and pulling away in 25 minutes. AND...for the ingredients for these seven meals, we spent a little UNDER $70. Ridiculous! (in a really, super, fabulous way) These meals are cost effective because you're buying a lot of things in bulk to be used in the multiple recipes included in your list.
When I came home I followed the list of Preparation Tasks in the order specified. It was easy peasy. Except that I cried hard with the onions. And I got really sicky after shredding the chicken. I actually had to stop and lay down after the chicken. Who knows why that grossed me out, but pregnancy is weird, I will have you know.

After everything is chopped and shredded, you follow the simple recipes and because everything is prepped, this stage goes quite quickly.

Each recipe specifies what size of a storage container you need to package your meals for freezing. It suggests a lot of gallon ziplocks, but I often used tupperware and froze a few meals in more Rory and Becca portion sizes so I ended up with more than seven meals. EASILY.
For real, my wife-worth began to soar as these meals began to stack up. We've had good sandwich stuff and produce in the house all month. But meals have been...lacking.
Not anymore!

By the end, I had a clean counter, meals ready to consume and one lone can of olives. Tough to say what recipe they were supposed to go in. But I don't really like black olives, so I wasn't too concerned. Though they did look lonely.

I took all of my meals out of the freezer at the end for 1) a photo op and 2) to clear out the other things in my freezer to make more room.

This looks super tidy, and it is. But you should see the freezer door! It is overflowing with half used bags of corn and peas and salmon fillets and icecream and coldpacks and sausage links...

My bottom line in this process: AMAZING. I will be cooking like this for a great long while. I actually was enjoying myself during the process. Except for when I crashed my head into the cupboard door and the room went black and I cried and quit for an hour until I got my courage back to go face those cupboards again.

I also split my time up a bit. I grocery shopped one night, prepped and made three meals the next morning and completed the final four meals the following morning. It didn't need to take this long, but I really did have some woozy moments with all this cooking in the mornings and I saw stars when I hit my head on the cupboard and both these things set me back.

But all in all, if chicken parts didn't make me gag, and if I remembered to shut cupboard doors, the prep and assembly part of this meal should have just taken me 3 hours.

Now, if you're looking for a few sample menu's here are a few I found online:

Click here for the seven meal menu I used that was FABULOUS and included:
(scroll down to MENU SAMPLER 01 on this webpage)
Chicken and Dumplings
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Lemon Chicken
South of the Border Ground Beef and Corn Pie
Country Style Ribs
Pineapple Burgers
Penne in Cream Sauce with Sausage
So far, we have eaten the dumplings and penne with HUGE SUCCESS. Rory is impressed and very happy.

Click here for a seven meal menu that includes:
Cream Chicken Pasta
Brie Strata
Three Bean Chili
Pesto Grilled Chicken Breast
Spicy Taco Salad
Citrus Salmon
French Stew
Sledders Soup
Tortilla Lime Chicken
Chicken Almondine
Sweet Potatoe Casserole
Beef Flank Steak with Mushroom Stuffing
Apple-Sausage Brunch Cake

Happy Cooking everybody! I'm off to buy Mimi's book because I like her style!


Nancy Holte said...

Hey Becca, good job! I recently learned (at the ripe old age of 54 - at least that's how old I was when I learned it) that if you take chicken breasts and put them in the crock pot and add enough chicken broth just to cover, then cook on low for 5 - 6 hours, it shreds in about 30 seconds. Gag free, I promise you. Maybe not as economical, but way easier on the stomach, and chopping wrists.

Shannon said...

This is so Julie Johnson!! I wishthe six of us could meet at your house for dinner this week --every night this week : )

Becca Groves said...

Nancy! This is be very best cooking tip I have heard in a long, long time. Chicken breasts are always so tricky...they dry out on me everytime, so I can't wait to try this one! THANK YOU! Plus, I think it probably is more cost effective than buying a prepared chicken...

And Shannon. Yes please. I would give ANYTHING for a dinner this week. I cannot believe how much life has happened since we saw you in San Fran...