I got into the whole once-a-month cooking thing last month (April of 2012) when my friend Amanda tried it and really liked it. I had looked into it before, primarily when I was pregnant and had wanted to make a bunch of meals for our “babymoon” just after B’s birth, but the idea of cooking for an entire day quickly put any visions I had of pulling meals from the freezer to rest as that did not appeal to me in any way.
Last month, though, I gave it a try and while it was a lot of work, I really did love being able to pull things from the freezer on days when I didn’t feel like cooking….which seems to come a lot recently. We’re giving it another shot this month armed with a few things we learned after our last cook day:
- Do your chopping and whatever cooking you can the night before. We didn’t do this even though every resource I read said to. I guess I like to learn things the hard way.
- The labels, while nice, didn’t work well for me as I stored several items in mason jars and they didn’t peel off well. This month I’ll use my labeler for each dish, then print out a master list of instructions to hang on the fridge for reference.
- As stated above, mason jars make great storage containers. 🙂 Just be sure not to fill them to the top with whatever it is you’re freezing to allow for it to expand.
- Waxed paper bags also make great storage containers. I used these last month on servings of egg dishes wrapped individually and stored in a larger gallon-sized bag and it worked really well.
We primarily follow the whole foods menu at Once A Month Mom, though I have found that I do need to make some changes/additions/substitutions in order to make it gluten-free (or grain-free in some cases) and more in line with traditional foods cooking.
This month’s menu, with our changes, looks like this:
- Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies is replaced with Anytime Cookies
- Strawberry Banana Muffins is replaced with Blueberry Banana Muffins from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook
- Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes is replaced with Ham, Gruyere, and Kale Egg Cupcakes
- Spicy Beef Lettuce Wraps has changes: fish sauce or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and the crispy peanuts recipe from NT instead of plain peanuts
- Southwest Chicken Panini has changes: instead of the artisan bread recipe posted, I’ll be trying the Against the Grain baguettes
- Sesame and Cilantro Vermicelli has changes: fish sauce or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, ghee instead of grapeseed or corn oil, crispy peanuts from NT instead of roasted peanuts, and brown rice spaghetti instead of semolina spaghetti
- Shredded Beef Tacos is replaced with homemade taco seasoning (this sounded so good but I don’t have brisket in the freezer and GF beer is awful)
- Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Lime Sauce is being made with no changes as long as I can get some pastured pork chops before cook day
- Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans is replaced with Buttermilk Herb Chicken Breasts mainly because I don’t have any bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in the freezer, otherwise this sounded good and I may try it in the future with ghee instead of olive oil
- Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce is not being made as it has both corn and beans in it and that’s a little too much phytic acid for me (I do soak my beans, but the method I’d need to use to soak the corn involves rye, which is brimming with gluten)
- Sweet Summer Vegetable Enchiladas is not being made as it also has corn and beans
- Easy Crockpot Pulled Pork depends on whether or not I can find a pastured pork butt or shoulder – if I can, there will be changes: maple syrup instead of brown sugar, fish sauce instead of Worcestershire sauce, honey instead of sugar
So that gives me three breakfasts, two lunches, and three or four suppers which isn’t bad. I’m a little intimidated to substitute recipes as Once A Month Mom has a lovely list of cooking instructions made already that I followed pretty easily last month, but I’ll give it a shot this month by substituting my recipes in place of the ones I’m not making. Yesterday I also discovered the site of a woman who has used several of the NT recipes successfully as freezer meals, so I may also look into that in the future.
I have a love/hate relationship with cook day. I get excited to shop for it and see what meals I’ll be making (seriously….I look forward to the start of each month so I can see what the new menu will be….I lead a small life sometimes), but the actual cooking day itself is very, very tiring. Fortunately, E doesn’t mind chopping and I don’t mind cooking, so we make a good team.