Have you heard of once-a-month-cooking (also called Freezer Cooking)? I've read a few books where it's mentioned as a wonderful timesaver throughout the week. The idea is, you spend one weekend day at the beginning of the month shopping for and preparing your meals for the remainder of the month. You could also try this on a smaller scale, such as once-a-week-cooking. Not a bad idea, right?
My thought is that although I have no desire to prepare and freeze every meal for the entire month, I can certainly utilize this idea in a number of ways such as trying a few make-ahead and freeze dinner recipes that simply have to be put in the oven on the night I'll be serving them. I also find it helpful to make up bread, bread dough, dinner roll dough, pizza dough, pie dough, and cookie dough in advance to freeze to be used throughout the month.
Another timesaver along this line that I've thought of is to freeze a cut of meat in the marinade, this way I won't need to prepare the marinade the day of the meal. I'll take the meat out of the freezer, put in in the refrigerator to defrost and it can marinate as it defrosts. That night I can grill, broil, bake or stir fry it.
Last year I tested once-a-month grocery shopping and found it not only saved time but money too. I prepared my monthly menu and grocery list, spent a couple of hours grocery shopping, and didn't think about it again until the next month.
Here's my plan for testing the once-a-month-cooking:
- make a monthly menu
- from the menu, make a shopping list
- gather store flyers, coupons, etc.
- plan a day for shopping and cooking (I think I can complete both tasks on the same day, but I'll plan on 2 days the first month just in case)
- cook and prepare all items that can be made in advance
- cool all items prior to packaging for the freezer
- line baking dishes with foil and saran wrap so that once the meal is frozen I can remove it from the baking dish to save freezer space and to free up my baking dishes
- label, date, and include cooking instructions on each package
I'll share the recipes that I try on my cooking blog
as well as reviews on whether or not they were successful.
What types of things do you do in the kitchen to save time and money?