Sunday, November 25, 2012

Update: Once A Month Cooking

*note: If you missed my original post about trying Once A Month Cooking, check it out here first*

Many of you have emailed asking my feedback on the Once A Month Mom cooking blitz a friend and I did back in October and now, 5 weeks later I’m ready to give my review.


It. Was. Awesome.


Yes, the full day of cooking and the evening of prep and shopping prior sucked, but all that hard work paid itself back in spades the days and weeks following. Spades, people.   

I hate cooking. I also hate meal-planning, mostly because it forces me to think about all the damn cooking I’m going to have to do in the week ahead. But you know what?

I didn’t hate cooking this month. In fact, sometimes I enjoyed it.

And yes, I did cook these past 5 weeks. I’ve been using approximately 3 frozen meals per week, with the other nights taken up with regular cooking, leftovers, and eating out. By virtue of the fact that I only had to truly “cook” two or so meals each week, I actually enjoyed the process of recipe hunting and baking rather than dreading it like I normally do. And by having so many meals on-hand to grab from as needed, I found a lot more time available to myself for other things.

Like playing with my kids. Or planning Avery’s 1st birthday party. Or, you know, even relaxing from time-to-time.

Crazy, I know. I was actually living life rather than watching it go by from the kitchen (ok, I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration but honestly, that’s how I feel when I’m forced to cook. I can’t say it enough: I hate cooking).

"But how were the meals, Andra?” you plead. “You can go on and on about how it saved you all this time, but if the meals were crap it’s kind of not worth it, right?”

Here’s what I’ll say: The meals, which were all taken from the OAMM October 2011 menu, had about a 75% success rate in my house. The ones that were hits and that I’d highly recommend you try:

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread (so, so good)
Pistachio Chai Muffins
White Cheddar Chicken Pasta
Oven Baked Fried Chicken
Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup (omg, AMAZING! I now dream about this soup in my sleep)
White Chicken Chili

I quite enjoyed the Pumpkin Black Bean Tamale Bake and Monterey Chicken, but Jamie was only so-so on them (the kids are always a draw, as Avery will eat just about anything and Mason will eat just about nothing).

Jamie loved the Hearty Beef Stew but I found something about it lacking (and he’s a whore for stew, anyways. A big stew-whore, that one).  

The Garlicky Bean Enchiladas? Kind of dry and flavourless, which is surprising seeing as they’re a Rachel Ray recipe.

And the Sundried Tomato Goat Cheese Frittata and Spaghetti Squash with the Homemade Marinara we haven’t actually gotten around to sampling yet (oops).

Here’s the thing … apart from the enchiladas, all of the meals were ones we would willingly eat again. And they didn’t have that strange this-meal-has-been-previously-frozen "feel” I was worried about. Ya know?

Carmen and I both found it beneficial enough that we’re doing it again next weekend, and will be following the November 2011 menu from OAMM. This time around, we’re going to learn from our mistakes and try and fine-tune the process:

- rather than shop and prep the same night, we will shop one evening and prep the next. It’s not that you can’t get it all done in one night, just that it would be a lot less stressful to spread it out over two (with the Big Cooking Day on the third). 

- we’re going to do a better job of reading the recipes prior to our shopping trip, as we bought a number of things that we wound up not needing because we already had it in our homes.

- we’re not going to trust the amounts given on the shopping list spreadsheet (which you plug in your total meals to, and its supposed to calculate). Some things were way too much, some were way too little … all I can say is, thank god we caught the problem two hours before we left for our grocery trip! Reading through the OAMM site this seems to be a common problem based on the reader comments, though I would hope/assume the “paid-for” menus (beginning January 2012) have this issue resolved. I’m not even upset about it as the menus we used were freebies, and everything else on the site worked amazing! Just something to be aware of next time.

- we’re going to make sure we actually have significant space in our freezers to accommodate all the incoming meals, rather than having to shuffle things around and slot them in like it’s a damned game of Tetris.

And that’s about it! With any luck, this month’s Big Cooking Day will go off without a hitch, and I’ll have one last chance to roll in premade-freezer-meal-happiness before finishing my maternity leave at the end of December.



  1. Awesome!! I'm so going to do this! Thanks for sharing all your tips!

  2. Linked here from B.
    You are hilarious! And inspiring.
    I am doing this on Tuesday. I did all my groceries today. I brought my calculator and metric conversion chart to Costco. I totally get your childbirth comparison. Right now, it's like I'm pregnant, except instead of a fetus I have a fridge full of perishables. I will be excited on Tuesday, but eventually there will be back pain and tears. I know I will want to give up (transition??). Wish me luck!!


    (I think you helped me pick a rocker for my nursery almost 3 years ago :)

    1. Sorry I'm just getting to this now ... how did it go? You didn't mention if you were doing it with a friend or not, but I'm crossing my fingers it turned out ok! Post back if you see this! :)


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