Imagine not having to cook at all for a month, but still having the benefits of being able to eat home-cooked meals. Cooking once a month can free up your time so that you can do other things and save you money. Getting a month’s worth of cooking done in one day may seem like a daunting task, but with proper planning, it does not have to be hard. Here are some tips for getting you get started for once a month cooking.
Once a Month Cooking
Learning the steps needed to successfully achieve one a month cooking is a game-changer. Whether you are looking to spend less time in the kitchen, want to have delicious, healthy home-cooked meals when time is short or want to save money, by buying in bulk, these tips will help you create a plan for once a month cooking that is perfect for you and your family. These free menu planner pages will help you get started, though you can find a more in-depth planner at the bottom of this post.
Put together a list of freezer meals.
Put together a list of your family favourites. More than likely, many of them will freeze. You can also look online for freezer recipes that you may want to try out. Make a list of the ingredients for each recipe and also write down what will go into preparing the dish, such as browning ground beef or dicing vegetables.
Shop your cupboards, and then go shopping
Before heading to the market or grocery store, look through your cupboards, fridge, freezer or pantry to see what you already have on hand. Then compare ads for the best prices on the remaining items. You may have to go to more than one store if you want to save the most money. Utilising warehouse memberships can be helpful if you have a lot of things to buy in bulk. It is best to do your shopping as close to your big cooking day as possible. This way, you will not have a refrigerator full of food for too long, and your produce will be fresh.
Prep the previous day
The day before your cooking day, do as much of the prep work as you can. Group steps together, meaning if you have four recipes that call for diced onions, cut enough onions for all four dishes. Do all other gratings, slicing, or crushing that may need to be done, as long as it will keep overnight. Come up with a plan as to how you want to attack your list of freezer meals. Put your recipes in order, starting with the meals that will take the longest.
It is best to start in the morning so that you can get all your cooking done before night. If you have any meat that needs to go into the slow cooker, put that in first. Start boiling any pasta early as well. In the same way that you combined steps when you prepared, combine like steps with your recipes. For example, brown all ground beef together. Then put all your meals together one by one. Work your way from the longest to the shortest cook time. Utilise all burners on your stovetop, your oven, slow cooker, air-fryer, instant pot, and thermo machine (if you have one) and have more than one meal cooking at the same time.
Storing your meals
To store your meals, you can use freezer storage bags or vacuum sealer bags. Both will lay flat and allow you to stack your food easily. Make sure to get all the excess air out if using freezer storage bags. Using bags will take up the least amount of room and will work well if you do not have a separate freezer.
For some people, recyclable plastic containers with lids will work better. This will work better if you have more room or a deep freezer. They are great for those, like hubby, who can grab a meal and. reheat at work when needed. No matter how you store your meals, make sure you label them with the name of the dish and the date it was prepared. Add any instructions for heating or cooking the meal as well. When it comes time to eat your frozen meals, simply take a bag out of the freezer and let it defrost.
There you go. You have just planned and cooked enough meals for an entire month. It may have been hard work, but it will get easier as you do it each month. Instead of having to spend your nights cooking, you just freed up the remainder of your month to do other things, or just relax.
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