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As a busy home school mom, I needed a way to have easy, quick, inexpensive meals without going out. I did not even have one day to do once a month cooking. So I cook half the month. I make a menu for 15 days.
On day one, for instance, we might have meat loaf. I make enough for two meals by putting the meat loaf in muffin cups and freezing half. This works with most things like hamburgers, chili, soups, etc. For pastas, I make the sauce and freeze and cook the pasta when needed.
It might take a while to get all these done in one day, but it is worth it later on.
Easy steps to fast, fuss-free dinners! (Recipes below)
Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. Cook penne pasta until just tender. Drain and set aside.
Cook pierogies; drain and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, in large skillet over medium-high heat brown beef in vegetable oil, in several batches, about 10 - 12 minutes per batch (6 pounds cooked yields about 12 cups; 7 pounds yields 14 cups). Set aside in refrigerator.
Meanwhile, dice ham; reserve. Cut chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. In large skillet over high heat saute chicken in vegetable oil, in several batches, until lightly browned and no longer pink, 10 - 12 minutes per batch (20 chicken breast halves yields 20 cups cooked chicken pieces). Set aside in refrigerator.
Preheat oven for chicken potpies. Make and bake pot pies.
While pies are baking, make Beef Chili and Beef and Vegetable Paprikash; cool completely before freezing.
Assemble chicken Pierogies Alfredo, Italian Pasta Bake and Cheesy Broccoli Pasta; cover, label and freeze.
Make Asian Chicken.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl combine 8 cups cooked chicken pieces, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, and 1 package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed. Divide between 2 (1 1/2 quart each) freezer-proof baking dishes. Place biscuits from 1 tube evenly over each dish of chicken mixture to form crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees; bake 20 to 25 minutes until biscuits are cooked and chicken mixture is heated through. Cool. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil; freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To reheat: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake, lightly covered with foil, 30 - 35 minutes, until heated through.
In large bowl combine 10 cups cooked penne pasta, 2 jars Double Cheddar cheese sauce, 2 packages thawed frozen broccoli florets, 1 package cheddar cheese and ham. Divide mixture between 2 (2 quart) freezer-proof baking dishes. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil; freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To reheat: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove wrap; recover with foil, Bake 40 minutes.
In large pot combine 6 cups cooked ground beef; 2 jars salsa; 2 cans red kidney beans, drained; 2 can corn, drained; 2 packages chili seasoning; and 4 cups water. Bring to boil, stirring. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Cool. Divide mixture between 2 (1 gallon each) plastic freezer food storage bags. Freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To reheat: Pour mixture into large pot. Cook over low heat until mixture just comes to boil.
Best served with: Tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded Cheddar cheese.
In large pot combine 6 cups cooked ground beef, 1 package onion soup mix, 2 tablespoons paprika and 4 cups water. Bring to boil, stirring. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Stir in 1 pint sour cream, 1 package frozen bell pepper strips and 2 jars sliced mushrooms, drained. Cook until heated through. Cool. Divide between 2 (1 gallon each) plastic freezer food bags. Freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To reheat: Pour mixture into large pot. Cook over low heat until mixture comes to boil.
Best served with: rice.
A word from the cook - You may want to add about half a envelope more of onion soup mix.
In large bowl, combine 10 cups pasta, 2 jars Garden Vegetable pasta sauce, 2 cups cooked ground beef (optional), 2 packages frozen Italian-style vegetables, thawed, and 2 packages shredded mozzarella cheese. Divide between 2 (10 cups each) freezer-proof baking dishes. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil; freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap; re-cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes.
In large bowl combine cooked 2 packages pierogies, 6 cups cooked chicken pieces, 2 jars Alfredo sauce, 1 bag frozen peas, 2 jars pimentos, drained, and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Divide between 2 (2 quart each) freezer-proof baking dishes. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated Parmesan over each tray. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove wrap; recover with foil. Bake 45 minutes or until heated through. Remove foil; bake uncovered 15 minutes until browned.
In large pot bring 4 cups water to boil. Stir in seasoning packets from ramen noodles, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (or 1/4 cup soy sauce) and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Add noodles. Cover; cook 2 minutes. Add 2 packages Asian-style vegetables. Cover; cook until noodles and vegetables are tender, 3 - 4 minutes. Cool. Stir in 6 cups chicken. Divide mixture between 2 (1 gallon each) plastic freezer bags. Freeze. Thaw in refrigerator 1 day ahead.
To reheat: Pour mixture into large pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 15 - 20 minutes.
Source: Woman's World magazine, 2003
By sooz from Toronto, ON
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
Can anyone suggest some good cookbooks for once a month cooking? I would like to cook for two weeks at a time and then build up to once a month if my regular freezer will hold it all. I would be most interested in the cook it, freeze it, thaw it, and reheat it type of books. I've read some cookbooks that are more prepare it with no cooking, freeze it, and then cook it. I would even be interested in good websites. I think this will help my stress level when it comes to "what's for dinner?". Thank you!
I have been doing this for years. I don't know of any cookbooks dedicated to this but I simply buy whatever is on sale and turn it into soups, stews or lasagna, chili, spaghetti sauce and freeze it in smaller portion and use the microwave to defrost. I have a 2nd freezer in the garage so I never run out of prepared meals.
Thank you for asking this question since the websites I found are very interesting to me, and I think my daughter will be interested also. This is a really good idea for busy Moms. I can just imagine how nice it would be to come home from work knowing you have a homemade meal ready to heat up. It's frugal, and sure to please the family.
I've been reading stuff online about "once a month cooking". It's definitely something I am interested of because it's budget friendly and cuts down on cooking everyday. However I don't even know where to start with this. It's not realistic in my eyes to do 30 meals in one day and I am sure that's not how you do this. I've written down some frugal meals on paper. I am suppose to just triple these meals and freeze them.
By Krystal from Kenora, Ontario
Right! Make a mess once, and eat several meals from it. My friend and I used to grocery shop one day, then the next we would get together and cook all day long, let the food cool, and enjoy the time together. Then we would wrap and freeze the food cooked that day.
Since we both worked, it was done on a weekend, and we had kids so it was marvelous to be able to pull "dinner" out in the AM, leave in the sink to thaw, and easily have it cooked rapidly. Far healthier for us, and less money spent eating out at fast food restaurants!
You can easily thaw in a sink of warm water, meat, etc in about 15 min if you forget to take it out of the freezer. When you make waffles for example: make far more than you will eat for that meal; then freeze for "toaster" waffles. Make your own "hamburger" patties; frozen, you can take out and use in the George Foreman grill. Beans etc; make more and then freeze. Same with soups. There is also a "make a mix" book you can get or find many on line. You mix all the dry ingredients together and just add various variations of "wet" ingredients, etc to make various things.
You can join a yahoo group: frozen assets; the folks running it are experts at freezing, and you can tell from previous questions and answers how to make and freeze almost everything and how to do so. It's marvelous to be able to take out some yummy soup; and have with biscuits made easily from already "made up" mix!
I suggest starting with a half month, which is 2 weeks of meals and some of these kinds of cooking plans include making one meal a week, just for variety. You would be making 12 meals. So, make 1 casserole that covers 3 or 4 meals and then do other casseroles that cover a similar number of meals. Your first try would mean making 3 or 4 casseroles and dividing them up into freezer containers. Perhaps that would be less overwhelming.
I like cooking on the weekend but don't have the freezer space to do a whole month at a time. I also don't enjoy the daily cooking so this is manageable for us right now. Good luck as you try this out!
Make sure you tell us how it went!
Share you once a month cooking ideas.
Great suggestion, Marilyn! I would enjoy a home cooked meal every night, if I could do it:-)Overstock.com has this book for less than Amazon.com...it's $8.62 and they charge $1.40 for media shipping on one book.
I think that there are groups on yahoo groups who go with this. It IS a great way to go, especially when you are working, with a child, and need to get dinner on the table fast! With it you should also check out (perhaps Google or whatever it) the "make a mix"; you add all ingredients together; and then only have to add wet ingredients to make biscuits, cakes, cookies, waffles, pancakes, etc. both are very helpful to have!
What I used to do is to get with a friend, we would shop on one day; and then cook together on another! We would spend the day (most of it) cooking in crock pots, in the oven, etc. Mixing up the "dry mixes" as we both worked.
Then once cooled, we cut, wrapped and froze. For the soups, and beans: we cooled, then put into containers, or zip locks. Now, for a month is a pretty big step. Doing it for even a week at a time, then 2 weeks, til it is so automatic that whenever you cook, cook enough for more than the one meal you are having that night! And then freeze it, so that you cook once, and eat at least another time as well. You can rapidly thaw, by setting it in a sink full of warm water, if you have forgotten to take it out of the freezer! like in 10 to 20 minutes max.
There is a yahoo group of experts that run a group called frozen assets and they are so helpful and there are so much great information just going through the archives that it is well worth joining!
By spending several hours on an afternoon you can prep and freeze enough meals for an entire month. This not only saves time when heating or cooking them later, but you may also save on food costs by buying enough of some ingredients to use for more than one meal while it is on sale. This is a page about freeze a month of dinners in one afternoon.