One of the most popular ways to meal plan is with Once a Month Cooking, or bulk cooking for the freezer. Although many people say it can be done with only the freezer on your refrigerator, we find that to be limiting. Having a chest or upright deep freezer will make cooking for the freezer much easier.
The idea behind full-fledged Once a Month Cooking is to set aside one to two days each month and cook all day for the freezer. For the rest of the month, all you need to do is thaw and reheat the prepared meals. There are many variations on OAMC, including the Busy Cook’s Pyramid which takes advantage of preparing individual ingredients for the freezer but leaving actual preparation until the night the meal is served. This, along with doubling recipes and freezing one, is our preference at Menus4Moms. It gives you much more flexibility and is does not require the time and energy that OAMC requires. It is much easier for a busy mom with small children at home to accomplish because you accomplish quite a bit by working a little bit at a time.
If you like the idea of bulk cooking but feel lost getting started, Bulk Cooking for the Freezer: Ground Beef will guide you through the bulk cooking process with step-by-step instructions for each dish. This ebook is available for immediate download from the Menus4Moms website. Each book is filled with tips, color illustrations, grocery lists, and step-by-step instructions. The ground beef plan includes 14 different ground beef recipes that make 20+ meals for your freezer. Bulk Cooking plans include both printed grocery list and Shopping List software grocery list file. (Shopping List software is Windows only).
Save time and money with this detailed guide to bulk cooking 20+ meals with ground beef. $6.95 ebook Download now
One of the most common questions I hear from people who are interested in freezer-meal cooking is: “How do I know what will freeze well, and what won’t?”If you’re unsure of how well something will freeze, freeze a single serving when you prepare the dish for a regular family meal. This way you can check on how well the item holds up to freezing and reheating. The following lists should give you a good start at identifying potential freezing problems with various food items. [Read More...]
Cheesy Spirals is from the Menus4Moms e-book, Bulk Cooking for the Freezer: Ground Beef and is also featured in the Busy Mom Menu. It is a good recipe to prepare when you buy bulk ground beef. You can brown your beef, use 2 lbs. for the Cheesy Spirals and freeze the rest in 1 lb. portions. The Cheesy Spirals recipe makes 2 pans, one for dinner and one for the freezer. If you have a smaller family and prefer to cook in smaller batches, you can probably get 3- 8"x8" pans out of this recipes instead of 1- 9"x12" pan and 1- 8"x8" pan. [Read More...]
When ground beef is deeply discounted, we buy large quantities and prepare both browned ground beef for the freezer and bulk meatballs for the freezer. This recipe calls for baking the meatballs instead of frying them, creating less mess. [Read More...]
Making chicken broth doesn’t have to be an arduous process. It does take a little more time than opening up a can of store-bought broth. But, I look at it as a gift I’m giving my friends and family. A homemade chicken broth is the cornerstone of any great homemade soup. The time it takes to make the broth is only to bring out the wonderful essence and wholesome flavor that’s characteristic of a great broth. Below are my favorite 12 soup cooking tips for making that happen. [Read More...]
Okay, I admit it. I’m a Once-A-Month-Cooking drop-out. I tried to make a month’s worth of meals for the freezer, but I couldn’t come up with enough time or enough meals. Next I tried to make 2 weeks of meals for the freezer and stopped because I ran out of dishes, freezer bags, and patience. I had good intentions, but I’m just not that organized. Even though I flunked OAMC, my freezer is not empty. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share. [Read More...]
It’s been at least six years since I balanced working outside the home almost full-time and having two kids. Friends were always amazed that I managed homemade meals on the table each night. Becoming a stay home mom with three kids made meal planning a bit easier because I was home, BUT several of the lessons I learned as a work outside the home mom still apply. I’ll give you a sample menu for one week to show how I would pull all these easy lessons together. [Read More...]
Here is my “Hamburger Plan”, probably one of my most used so far. I love having all of my favorite recipes in one place, and I find myself referring back to it often… Here are many ideas pertaining to hamburger, “master recipes” are on the left, “secondary recipes” are indented – you assemble these from the master recipes. You can also freeze the portion of the master recipe that is required in the secondary recipe and assemble the secondary recipe on the day you want to eat it. I do this a lot when trying and/or learning new recipes. [Read More...]
Here is the first plan I wrote, out of necessity! I couldn’t figure out how to deal with so many different parts of the chickens I was doing unless I had everything written down and the recipes gathered together… My Strategy – When dealing with meats that have different parts, you need to think about how you will use each to get the maximum amount of food for your dollar. Here is how I handled chicken (the same approach can be used for turkey and many of these recipes will work for turkey). [Read More...]
Here is my “Ham Plan”. I am finding it easier and more economical to have bulk cooking plans for when meats and veggies are on sale or in season. I do a big cooking that lasts a few months (Hopefully! I am still new at this) so I don’t have to cook that particular meat again for a while. I am hoping my chicken will last a while so I can focus on other meats. Here are some of the recipes I made around Easter (next time I will make a big ham or a few medium ones, last time the 20 pound ham was a bit hard to turn every half hour!). [Read More...]
I’m a bulk cooker and one of the types of sessions I do is potatoes. Many people are surprised by this because they assume that potatoes don’t freeze successfully. I assumed the same thing at first but after years of experimenting I’ve found that they are one of the easiest and most versatile foods in my repertoire. When they go on sale I buy at least 20#, frequently 60# or more. I never buy potatoes unless they are on sale and I never have to deal with watching them slowly go bad in the dark recesses of my pantry because I can’t use them fast enough. [Read More...]
It’s 5 pm and the kids are hungry. You rummage through the refrigerator looking for leftovers – no such luck. You hastily attempt to prepare a simple Spaghetti Bolognese and realize that you’re out of pasta. We’re all aware of the chaos that a lack of organization around mealtime can bring! Instead of dinner being a time when the family comes together, it can be a time of frustration. For Kathy Cottrell, a schooling mother of two teenage sons who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, part of the solution has been planning and preparing meals in advance. [Read More...]
List member Christy recently wrote to me . . . “I am looking for a cookbook or ideas on making meals for a month (or at least a week) and freezing them. I know they have cookbooks that you can do this for a month. Has anyone used one and which would you suggest? Thanks for any help.” . . . And then the very next day, I happened to get an email from my dear friend Ann Marie on this very topic: [Read More...]
For Lisa Donatelli of Cuyahoga Falls, nirvana is not a day at a spa, but dinner in the freezer. Donatelli spent one evening last week making dinner with four of her friends. They made 80 meals — enough to stock their refrigerators and freezers with 16 dinners each. The women did not make the dinners in one of those new meal-assembly shops. They made them in my kitchen, in a do-it-yourself session with recipes developed for the project. Not only did they save money, they had a ball. [Read More...]
One of the basics of Menus4Moms menus is having food prep already done before dinner time. One way we accomplish this is by bulk cooking meat and freezing it in meal-sized portions. Here is a wonderful recipe for cooking chicken in bulk. Have grilled chicken for dinner the night you cook it, then chop and freeze the leftovers in dated freezer bags. The longer the chicken marinates in this mixture, the more flavorful it will be. [Read More...]
Using dried beans instead of canned beans is an easy way to save money. Cooking dried beans takes several hours but only requires checking on them a couple of times, so using a slow cooker is the easiest way to cook them without being physically present. For our menus, you can cook a bag (or two if your pot is large enough) of dried beans and freeze the beans in their own juice. These bags of frozen beans, which are far less expensive, can be used in place of canned beans. Pinto beans cooked with chopped onion (1-1/2 onions per pound of beans) are delicious served over cornbread with chopped onion and shredded cheddar cheese on top. Season the beans with salt and pepper after cooking is complete since salt inhibits the cooking process. [Read More...]
Homemade pie crusts are healthier than their commercial alternatives but are time-consuming to make. By making several at a time and freezing the dough, you can have the convenience of prepared crusts without the time investment each time you need one. Freshly ground whole wheat flour may be used in this recipe instead of white flour. [Read More...]
The Busy Mom Menu plans bulk cooking into your dinner menus so you don’t even have to think about it. Just… Print. Shop. Cook. The menus…
- Include well-planned dinner menus for 5 nights
- Feature tried and true recipes with grocery lists
- Feature full color photos
- Take advantage of stocking your pantry, planned leftovers, and cooking for the freezer
- And cost about half the price of a fancy coffee each week!
Popular Bulk Cooking Cookbooks
Frugal Mom’s Guide to Once a Month Cooking by Candace Anderson – This eBook is an excellent bulk cooking cookbook. It contains over 70 family-friendly recipes in an easy to use format that includes clear preparation, freezing and cooking instructions.
Once A Month Cooking by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson – This easy-to-follow, family-tested cookbook explains how to: plan ahead, spend less time in the supermarket, cut down on prep time, group similar kitchen tasks together to get them all done at once, make kitchen clean-up more manageable, use the freezer, computer, and our head to create a month full of delicious, nutritious meals and actually have enough time to relax and enjoy them.
Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough – Frozen Assets is small in stature, but jam-packed with meal-planning advice. It contains recipe ideas, plus detailed instructions on how to get the maximum value from your food dollar, while also slashing meal preparation times.
Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik – Cooks will find 125 delicious, healthful recipes to choose from. Each one includes directions for dividing, preparing, and storing raw ingredients; a second set of simple direction is included for thawing, cooking, and enjoying the food. Designed for the way people cook today, Fix, Freeze, Feast meals are lighter and fresher than traditional bulk-cooking recipes, with a focus on simple stews and stir-fries, quick grilled or broiled main courses, and popular ethnic meals such as Beef Fajitas and Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry. Fix, Freeze, Feast, also includes ready-to-bake cookie doughs, soups, side dishes, smoothies, and snacks.
Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, Madeline Westover – Make-A-Mix is really two cookbooks in one. The cookbook begins with 67 make-ahead shortcut mixes for everything from all-purpose cake mix to meatball mix. These can be made on a weekend-or whenever there’s free time-and used to speed food preparation on busy days. The mixes are a key ingredient in one or more of the 306 recipes that follow. The kitchen-tested recipes run the gamut from breakfast dishes to after-dinner treats. They include hearty dinner entrees, like enchilada casserole, onion pot roast, and shrimp & vegetable stir-fry; international fare like green chili burritos and quick chow mein; soups and other appetizers, like New England clam chowder, and even freezer treats like fruit slush. With the Make-A-Mix method, home cooks can control the amount of sugar, salt, and preservatives in a recipe, and save money on store-bought mixes.
OAMC Introduction from Ellen’s Kitchen
Budget101 OAMC resources from Budget101
Freezer Cooking Recipes You Can Count On – LifeAsMom’s OAMC Resources
Recipezaar’s Bulk/OAMC/Freezer recipes
Once A Month Mom – Tricia Callahan’s OAMC blog with many OAMC plans
Bethany’s OAMC Posts – lots of posts detailing Bethany’s monthly plans, recipes, photos, and tips