I’ve Got Some SERIOUS Questions about this Once A Month Cooking Thing!
Once a month cooking seems really overwhelming and near impossible to some people. Just looking at the menu sends them into a cold sweat. It really does not have to be that way. Once a month cooking is simple and easy if you have the right tools. BUT you can also adapt the menus and the servings to whatever your family needs. Here are some questions that might help you decide how to adapt your once a month cooking day.
How many does this menu feed?
Menus AFTER May 2011: These menus are custom designed and allow you to choose the number of SERVINGS (or people) you are preparing. Each menu varies a little by how much it will make but EVERY menu will yield you two of each recipe (for eating twice during that month).
No, this is not enough to feed you for every meal, but it should be enough to get you most of the way, after all, we still do eat out or eat with friends on occasion. If you are willing to eat the same meals up to 4 times each month (lunches and dinners) you can double the number of people that you are cooking for and you will get the quantities needed for each.
For example: The Traditional menu will yield you approximately 6-10 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 16 dinners for the month. Throughout the month you will be eating each entree 2 times.
Menus Prior to May 2011: It is designed to feed two families of four or less. Our family is just 2 people, however, I portion it for four for the following reasons: in case we have company over, the dish will last us two evenings, or we can take the leftovers for lunch the next day.
I see where most of your recipes are frozen in 8×8/9 x 9 pans. Why did you do it this way?
First, this is usually the best portion size for a family of 4. Second, I do it this way for ease of taking it out of the freezer, placing it in the oven and baking. If you are looking to save space in your freezer you can also (where appropriate – not lasagna) package the meal in a zipper type freezer bag, defrost in the refrigerator, and throw in a pan for baking.
Do you think we could get away with 2 8×8/9×9 pan recipes in 1 13×9 pan?
Yes, you most certainly can, the recipes will fit in 1 13×9 instead of 2 8×8/9×9 pans. Just keep in mind that you will have less overall dinners for the month if you follow the menu exactly.
Why breakfasts, lunches, AND dinners?
In the past I have only done dinners for my Once A Month Cooking BIG DAY. However, I realize that many others that plan weekly menus also plan for lunches and dinners. And now that I am a stay-at-home mom we eat more breakfasts and lunches around here. In our experience we decided at least breakfasts and lunches could also be used for weekend meals.
Why 15 breakfasts?
It really is important to start with a balanced breakfast each day. Whether your family has 4 members or 1, you can pop these breakfasts in the microwave and go. They aren’t really designed as much for the sit down breakfast as they are for the breakfast on the go. With 15, you will likely have breakfast items for at least 50% of the month.
Why only 10 lunches?
There are at least eight weekend days in the month. We thought that it might be helpful for families to have something planned for their weekend meals together. You could also use these throughout the week if you would like. We tend to have leftovers from our dinners so we don’t need as many lunches as we do dinners. Keep in mind that “lunches” can also be used for dinners if you would like, no limits here!
Why 15 dinners?
Usually there are 30-31 days in any given month. This amount gives you a meal for every other day. There are several reasons we don’t plan a meal for EVERY day:
- We often have a church function or gathering with friends – no meal needed.
- We have leftovers from the other meals.
- We do still go out to dinner somewhere every so often.
- I LIKE to cook and don’t NEED to use the meals every night.
This still seems like a lot of meals.
We have also found throughout any given month there are children being born, hospitalized friends/family/neighbors, or simply a family in need. Some of us dedicate about 10% of what we prepare that month for others. This is a good way to tithe our money, time and talents to the benefit of others.
For example, I also find that I may sign-up to take a meal to a family and have a wonderful menu planned only to get to that particular day and be extremely tired, or my son is acting up, or I forgot a menu item. Whatever the case may be, when my plans go astray, I can always go to my freezer and pull out a home cooked meal to take to the family instead.
What about side dishes?
I usually do not plan on making side dishes as part of my OAMC. I choose not to because sides are somthing that can usually be made quicker or easier on the day of the actual meal. While I am baking the entree I will simply heat up some veggies, rice, or pasta to go with our meal.
These dishes take cooking a bit of work, ever considered recipes that don’t have to be cooked before freezing?
Occasionally, you will see a meal that has no cooking before freezing on our menu plans. However, as a general rule of thumb, I try to pick recipes that I can not throw together quickly during the week. Entrees that are more labor intensive or are better suited for bulk preparation usually make their way onto my list. I would rather spend a lot of time in the kitchen on one day rather than throughout the month.
What if I am single and want to do this with a friend?
Portion the meals in a container size that will suit you. Perhaps instead of a 9×9 you could do a loaf pan OR instead of portioning in a gallon size zipper bag you could portion in a 2 quart size bags.
Do you use a stand-alone freezer?
Yes, I do. You could possibly use your refrigerator freezer if you don’t have it filled with lots of other stuff. I would say that if you are using your refrigerator freezer you should portion your meals in zipper type freezer bags, thaw in the refrigerator, and then put in the appropriate pan if the recipe allows. This will save you space.
There are meals that my family won’t eat on the menu, can I eliminate them?
You can, you will just have to do the subtraction to make sure you aren’t purchasing items for those meals. I also suggest that perhaps you give away those meals. Find someone in your community that could use a quick home cooked meal; a working mother, hospitalized neighbor, or a family who just had a baby. The possibilities are endless.
I hope you find these questions helpful to you. Please feel free to add your questions in the comments section and we will answer them as quickly as possible!