By: Sherry Frewerd
At the end of a busy day, what's the one thing you're looking forward to? Relaxing on the couch, taking a long bath, reading a good book...cooking a home cooked meal? Yeah, right. Unless you consider cooking a treat, which most tired mothers do not, the idea of coming up with yet another healthy and tasty dinner is just too much, and certainly not fun.
What would you say if I told you there is a method that has become very popular among exhausted parents that gets the cooking done and meals prepared and made ready for the busy work weeks. No, I'm not talking about hiring a live in cook. Besides that's just another person to deal with. No, what I'm suggesting is something called 'once a month cooking.' Yep, you read it correctly. Also known as 'freezer cooking', it's a concept that's really taking off.
The idea is to set aside a couple of days where you cook your little heart out. That way your family gets really good dinners for the rest of the month and your time is freed up to do things like enjoy that hot bath or take tap dancing lessons...whatever floats your boat.
What I've heard from moms who have tried 'OAMC' is that not only are they saving time and making good food, but they're actually saving money too. Seems like they're keeping their budgets on track by planning their meals. Makes sense.
Giving in to exhaustion and driving through a burger joint is way too easy. It's expensive and unhealthy, but we all know that. What I suggest is taking on the challenge of planning a month's worth of meals, buying the ingredients and supplies and scheduling the days to do the work. You can do it all in one day, but if that sounds like a little more than what you're willing to take on, then break up the cooking into two days.
So, what do you think? Sound like a good idea? If 'freezer cooking' is something you'd like to try, there are a few things that you need to get clear before you begin. First of all, don't go into it blind. Make a plan and schedule the time. Don't schedule a cooking weekend during one of your family's busiest times. Avoid holidays and other deadlines. This is supposed to be a positive thing you're doing here. In fact, if you can find someone to watch your kids while you cook, then by all means take them up on it. If not, then let the older kids help and have lots of fun things for the little guys to do while you're busy making their lives better.
Naturally, you're going to need some good, easy, affordable menus for your meals. Plan this well so you save money. Don't wait to do the shopping on your actual cooking day. There's nothing more frustrating than the grocery store anyway. Be sure you have your list with you and look for bargains and bulk pricing and use those coupons when you can.
Decide how you plan on storing your meals and make sure you have all of the storage bags and containers ready. Most folks like to start off their cooking extravaganza with a well organized and clean kitchen. Get out your crock pot and make as many crock pot recipes as you can so your oven is free for casseroles etc.
Ready to give 'once a month cooking' a go? You'll soon discover that it's fun being frugal and way smarter than fast or convenience foods for your family's health and budget. Involve your friends and other family members and make it an event. However you do it, just plan well and reap the rewards.