For the purposes of my once a month cooking experiment I am using the August OAMC plan from Once a Month Mom. Love that the meals are fairly simple and easy to make. I also love that she includes breakfasts and lunches. Best part? It’s all free!
For me, part one was acquiring the supplies for OAMC. Here’s what I learned:
- Plan on taking a couple of hours (maybe more) to go over everything provided for your plan. For me, that meant printing the shopping list and really looking at the recipes. There were a couple that my family wouldn’t have liked (ham and french toast) so I deleted them and altered the shopping list. This time I decided to go ahead and keep the serving sizes the same. I’ll end up with a ton of food, but sometimes servings are misleading. So, sthis time I may have food to last over a month. Also, since I deleted a couple of meals, I’ll have plenty to cover that gap! You may need to use your math skillz and cut down the recipes or find a buddy to share with.
- Print the plan in advance and shop the loss-leaders. I learned this from doing the Grocery Game for awhile. My plan for the September plan is to print it as soon as it is available and look to get stuff in bulk when it goes on sale.
- Shop your pantry first! One of the great things about this plan is that it uses regular food ingredients. Some stuff I already had on hand – diced tomatoes, cream of ________ soup, etc. It cut down tremendously on what I had to buy. We also had a lot of the meat since we bought a quarter of a steer last winter. Thankfully, what I did have to buy – chicken – was on sale as a loss leader at Kroger. Saved a TON there! (You can find loss-leaders in the online store fliers for the stores you like!)
At the store:
- Don’t panic. I sure did. Oy. As I was dragging two carts through Kroger on Saturday morning I seriously broke into a cold sweat at what the final bill might be. I was chanting over and over – it’s for a month of meals, it’s for a month of meals. Turns out, the damage wasn’t bad. I ended up spending $250. My goal is to keep the weekly trips for staples at around $25 or less. I also hope that having meals on hand means that we’ll eat out less. All of that combined means a huge reduction in food spending every month!
- I bought mostly store brand, and in bulk sizes. Giant cans of diced tomatoes and bulk butter are way cheaper than the little cans (per ounce) and every penny counts here when you’re buying 122 ounces of diced tomatoes!
- Coupons. Again with the every penny thing.
Part 2 – Prep Work
I planned my OAMC experience to cover three days, (Day 1 = shopping and minor prep, Day 2 = finish prep work, Day 3 = assembling, cooking and freezing) because I knew that would fit best in my schedule. It’s working well, but I need to be careful to have meals planned for the nights in that period. Don’t think we’ll have that problem going forward with meals in the freezer, but this time it cost me a pizza dinner on Saturday night. Whoops.
Here’s what I learned doing my prep:
- Get your tupperware in order first. I bought the suggested number of plastic freezer bags for the plan, but I still needed some containers for the chopped up veggies and stuff. Thanks to Captain Chaos, who loves to play with the tupperware I spent a good chunk of time looking for containers and matching lids.
- Fill the sink with hot, soapy water. You can throw dirty dishes in there as you use them. Clean up becomes a breeze.
- Make sure the fridge is empty. You’ll need a place for all the tupperware full of chopped veggies.
- Definitely do the prep work ahead of cooking day! This months suggested prep was chopping a ton of veggies, pre-cooking chicken (I did this Saturday as soon as we got home from the store), pre-cooking the roast, and pre-cooking the ground beef. Doing all of this saves a bunch of downtime on cooking day!
- Use your kids. They’re primary jobs were juicing the lemons and limes (I sliced them) and peeling the apples. Saved me some time and they had fun in the kitchen.
I did all of the prep work on Sunday afternoon and it took me about 1-1/2 hours. Probably would have gone faster had I not wasted so much time on the tupperware. Monday was cooking day and I’ll cover that in tomorrow’s post!