By Shannon Brown, Contributing Writer
A couple of months ago my sister and I got the bright idea to do a once a month cooking day together. We planned to have the kids hang out with the daddies while we whipped up dozens healthy, homemade meals for the freezer.
To be sure, we had Pinterest-y visions of making a month’s worth of meals in just a couple of hours.
We dreamed of the time we’d spend playing with our kids each afternoon instead of cooking, how much more cheerfully we’d greet our husbands after work, and of course how much money it would save on groceries!
About 7 hours later, the cooking still not done, my sis had collapsed on the couch, and I was slumped over the kitchen counter exhausted. In that moment, we both agreed that we’d prefer to cook dinner every night to the marathon of once a month cooking!
7 Simple Tips for Once a Month Cooking Success
Luckily, I’ve learned a few simple tips for once a month cooking since then to help make the process much simpler, faster, and less exhausting!
1. Pick a Freezer Cooking Plan with Recipes that Your Family Usually Eats
Mistake number one on that fateful freezer cooking day was that we chose a Paleo meal plan. The problem: Neither of our families eats Paleo and we were not used to cooking that type of recipes.
Instead, choose recipes that you know your family will love, so the food doesn’t go to waste. It will also be much faster for you to cook recipes that are at least somewhat familiar.
2. Choose a Freezer Meal Plan with No-Cook Recipes
This tip will make your freezer cooking day go light-years faster, without adding any extra time on the day you actually serve the meal.
Look for something where the most you have to do is brown some ground beef. It will be much faster than than forming meatballs, browning them in the oven, letting them partially cook in the crockpot, then allowing them to cool before freezing like we tried to do!
Here are a couple of my favorite freezer cooking plans:
- 20 Freezer Meals from Costco for $150 Series (affiliate links)
- Once a Month Meals
3. Get ready for Garbage
While freezer cooking you’ll need to be ready to deal with all the packaging and food scraps that will need to head to the garbage.
Make sure you have receptacles conveniently available for trash, recycling, and compost. This could be simply a grocery sack or your regular cans. Either way it’s much easier to have these right where you’re working.
4. Take a Break
I know it can seem counter-intuitive to take a break when all you want to do is get your cooking day over with as soon as possible. However, just sitting down to rest for a few minutes will let you come back rejuvenated and will help you get done faster in the long run.
5. Have a Snack
While surrounded by a month’s worth of groceries, it can be strangely easy to forget to eat. Everyone’s a bit different, but I always need to eat frequently, especially when I’m on my feet for hours in the kitchen.
If you start to feel sluggish, make sure to grab a quick bite to eat to get energized again.
6. Ask for Help
Freezer cooking is much easier when you have a helper on your team. Whether they simply wipe the counters, load the dishwasher, or read the recipes to you, having a helper on freezer cooking day is a huge asset.
Consider asking your mom, a friend, or even your husband to help out to make your freezer cooking day a success.
7. Do it kid-Free
Don’t get me wrong, I love to include my kids in the kitchen. However, for freezer cooking day, I find it is much easier to focus and get it all done quickly if the kids are otherwise occupied.
Luckily, with the tips above, you’ll be able to get it all done within naptime plus maybe a little screen time, or a little quality time with Daddy or Grandma. You’ll know what works best for your family, but I highly recommend planning ahead for this.
Freezer Cooking Success at last!
This past weekend my husband and I did the unimaginable. We put away 20 freezer meals in just 3 hours. I never would have thought it possible after my initial freezer cooking disaster.
What a blessing it is to have these meals already prepared, so my family can have a much calmer wife and mommy in the evenings. Plus, I love that once a month cooking is a great way to save money on groceries.
If you’ve been afraid to give once a month freezer cooking a try, be sure to apply the tips above to keep it simple, and you’ll be sure to have success!