Friday, June 20, 2008

Frugal Friday--OAMC My Way

"Once a month cooking" can help you cut costs only if your family enjoys the results. I tried doing "once a month cooking"(OAMC) where you make double of an entree and put one in the freezer for a later date. My family did not enjoy the "later date" meal when I would go to serve it. So instead of making up the entrees and freezing them I came up with other methods to help me save time in the kitchen preparing meals or for those times when didn't have any convenience items to pull for a quick dinner.

I wish that my Uncle was still living and was raising cattle like what he did when I was a teen. OR that I could find someone trustworthy to buy my meat in bulk. For now, I just find good meat sales at the grocery store or get it from Sam's Club.

Here is what I call "my version of OAMC".....

For 15-20lbs of ground beef, I take and make burgers and meatloaf with the raw meat and freeze them. The burgers get stacked with wax paper between them in a freezer bag. Each freezer bag has the number I need for one meal. I also make meatballs but I cook them and then flash freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag. I also brown some of the ground beef and put in plastic containers/freezer bags the amount that I need for a meal of spaghetti, chili, goulash, and sloppy joes.

For chicken meals, I normally just get the Quick frozen boneless chicken breasts/tenders because they are usually on sale more than fresh chicken. So I just take a bag out the night before for the dinner meal the next day. If I get fresh chicken I still make sure that I get it on sale and I get the boneless/skinless breasts....When I get home I clean and de-fat them and put them in a freezer bag in the number I need for a meal(usually 5-6 breasts do it for my family of 7). If the breasts are thick I will butterfly(slice them width-wise) them to make the meat stretch a little more, which means that 3-4 breasts is enough for my family. It also helps to butterfly them when you know that you are grilling them because the meat cooks more evenly! I also will cut up the raw chicken to pull out for using in soups and such. I also make sure that I get a couple of whole chickens when they are on sale to have to pull out of the freezer for the next day for a drop in the crock pot and forget type meal! LOL

For pork chops, I get one of those half boneless pork loins and bring it home and slice it into pork chops(or you can have the butcher at the grocery store do it too!) and once again make sure that I put wax paper between the chops and divide it into the meals in freezer bags.

I found doing things this way I am not tied down with the precooked meals in the freezer. If I want to try something different/new for a meal I can without having to go to the store to get other meat to use. I also found that doing my meats ahead and putting them in freezer, I have been able to cut the time in the kitchen preparing the meal in half! Most of meals I can get done in an hour or less, unless of course I am using my crock pot! LOL Also, no more wasted food from the family deciding that they didn't like the "second round".

This method I found was great each time that I had a new baby in the house. I was able to nurse baby and put baby down for a nap and then prepare and eat dinner before baby would need my attention again. If I am using my crock pot I would just put the items in the crock pot when I had about 5 minutes in the morning before lunch.

The other thing I do is keep a baking routine where I can get a good stash of quick breads/muffins, cookies, and other snacks in the freezer. The quick breads/muffins can be used for breakfast along with some scrambled eggs. The cookies are just nice to have for that sweet tooth! LOL Another thing for breakfast that I have made ahead for my boys is "Mom's Egg McMuffins" toasted english muffin with scrambled egg patty, sliced american cheese, and bacon or ham or sausage patty. Wrap the individually with plastic wrap and then put in a bread bag. When you want one take it out microwave for 20 seconds and then turn it over and microwave for another 20 seconds, if still cold in the middle microwave for 10 more seconds. Let set for 2 minutes and eat! You can use croissants or biscuits for the same type of sandwiches.


Kim said...

I do meats similarly. I'll cook and shred a big pot of chicken so that I've got cooked chicken ready for recipes.

I've tried doing baking days as well, but the results haven't been too nice coming out of the freezer--they taste freezer-burned. I usually put them in freezer bags and suck the air out with a straw. Any other tips?

Happy To Be At Home said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I always love reading what others do in their kitchens, and our methods are very similar. Great tips!


Jennifer said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Yours looks great! I will do my meat similar to how you do it. Also, I have found a few recipes that I can double and put one in the freezer. they don't all work for us either, but by usually having 2-3 in there, it makes my life so much easier!

The Happy Housewife said...

This is a great way to do it! I need to start cooking like this soon. Our freezer is so tiny, but I am sure if I cleaned it out, I would have plenty of space.

angela said...

Like you, my freezer is always stocked with meats. We raise our own chickens, buy 1/2 a pig direct from the grower and my husband hunts. When I buy ground beef in bulk I make burgers and then weigh it & package it according to the needed amounts for my usual recipes. I also always have lots of veggies in the freezer from our garden. Some other things I prepare to keep in the freezer are stuffed shells, lasagna, meatloaf pie, ground turkey meatballs, chicken rice casserol & chicken gravy. I prefer that things are assembled & frozen, but not cooked until the day of serving so they taste fresh.

Amy said...

That is a great idea. I usually have meat in the freezer, but it isn't prepared and ready to go into a meal. I should really do this... especially with ground beef! Thanks for the tip! :)

CC said...

Color more impressed!!!! Great pre-planning!

Donna said...

Wonderful job Sonshine!
Care to share your meatloaf recipe as well as the leanness of the ground beef that you use in it?