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One month of cooking in one day

August 12, 2012

I chanced upon http://www.onceamonthmom.com and as I usually do with projects, jumped in with both feet before testing out the water temperature.

The idea is you take one night to chop all your veggies, takes about 2-4 hours, and one day preparing and freezing all your meals that will last you the rest of the month. The cooking ranges from 6-12 hours.  This very kind lady puts together a listing of recipes and you plug in the number of people you are feeding and it spits out the amounts of food you need to get and the correct recipe for that large of a family. If you want half a month, you put in your actual family number.  If you want a whole month, you put in double your family. So this is a whole month’s worth of meal’s groceries.  It cost us $260 at Wal Mart with no couponing.  I did buy the chicken breast at publix for $20 and we used my father in law’s venison in place of hamburger so that was a freebie. We now owe him a deer this fall.

A few things before we get started.  While once a month cooking SOUNDS great. And that amount for a month’s worth of groceries sounds promising, this does not include your sides. Or milk. Or fruit. Or desserts. Or snacks.  So.. its not like you are completely feeding your family with just this cost.  Also if you jump into like me with no couponing and preparation, I feel like we typically feed our family cheaper then this with couponing.  This DOES save you TONS of time meal planning/grocery list making and grocery shopping each week.  What’s for dinner? Well what’s next up on the rotation.  You are also taking a chance making a large batch of something that you are unsure if your family will enjoy it.  That’s a lot of wasted money if no one eats it.

I recommend going through the recipes and seeing what ones just use whole pieces of meat.  This lady converts it to pounds but it makes no sense to me. If its a whole pork chop kind of meal, just buy a pork chop for each member of your family x however many meals you are making.  Typically 4 if you are doing the whole month version.  If its something like ground hamburger, then that’s fine. But the porkchops and the chicken breast messed us up. We now have several meals with only 3 pork chops.. which isn’t going to work.

I also recommend deciding to make one of her earlier listed month long menus, printing out the list and couponing all the ingredients like crazy.  I mean how cool is it to know what your next MONTH of meals is going to require and to know everything you coupon will be used?! That is just amazing to me! You can coupon or at least sale buy the meat and canned goods.  Get yourself all prepared so it doesn’t cost that much when you go to do your cooking.


The first night all we did was chop. This is using the cuisinart and with both of us working most of the time. I’m a horrible chopper so it did take me longer then it would a normal chopper I think.  It took us 4 hours to cut all our veggies up for the month. But do NOT skip this step. It will make the day you cook a living hell if you are having to chop.  It did feel good looking at all the veggies we were going to feed our family for the month. I don’t think we would have typically eaten this many veggies within our meals. Also this is a great time if you have a Sam’s or Costco membership to REALLY make use of it. You know you are going to use every single pepper in that huge bulk buy so none will go to waste. We literally went through 5 dozen eggs in one day.  Insane.

Here are a few of the things we made just to let you see what kind of food it is and also the AMOUNT you are fixing.

The day of cooking took us SERIOUSLY 12 hours.  12 hours with both Tom and I on our feet cooking. We do have 3 very young kids to take care of. I use that term loosely. They were in their high chairs watching movies ALL DAY LONG.  But they still had to be fed, Thad had to be nursed. Diapers needed changing, sippys refilled and that dang play button doesn’t push itself.  I can’t emphasize the time commitment on this. And by the end of the day, I recommend a REALLY good glass of something strong to push you over that hill because I didn’t know if we were going to get through the last few recipes. I was so sick of being in that kitchen. But we did.  Clean as you go. We did and there was still a huge mess at the end. It can’t be helped.

Another pointer, go through and pick out ALL the spices/sauces required, devote some kitchen counter space to put them in alphabetical order which will save you a TON of time.  Searching/hunting for things burned up a lot of precious time.  Every second counts when you are cooking for a month.

The  breakfast/lunches you completely cook/flash freeze and put into sealed bags to be quickly reheated and eaten within a minute or two. The dinners were mostly just getting the meat ready, putting together the marinade and putting the raw meat and marinade each into small bags and then together in a big bag to be pulled out, combined and cooked for dinner.

Now we have been eating our meals for going on two weeks.  No matter how good they look or sound just be honest with yourself on what your family is willing to eat.  The lunches for this month involved a lot of hamburger and I talked myself into the venison making it better for the kids but they are refusing to eat any of the lunches. Which is still ok since Tom and I are eating them but this means I’m having to rely on the same ol’ junkfood lunches as normal.  There are SO many recipes that she has done for you that honestly, just pick some different ones, get the recipe cards and modify your shopping list! We are done doing hamburger dinners or lunches (unless its something us adults want to eat).  And while Evie loves the pancakes this month and Rett loves the muffins, she hates the muffins and he hates the pancakes but at least SOMEONE likes one of them so they will be eaten.

Dinner has become a lot easier but I can’t say that we are eating out less yet.  The lunches not working out sort of still have us in a rut. We are planning on doing this again though for next month!

It was exhausting but in sort of a fun way looking back.  Tom and I didn’t really fight as much as I thought we would being in the same exhausting kitchen for 12 hours.  It might be nice to do a play list and have some spousal bonding time.  I can’t say 100% that it was worth it as far as time saved/money saved but like I said, the lunches are sort of biting us in the butt at this point.  I want to try it another month before really making a decision.  It is nice to just go pull whatever from the freezer and be ready!  But you really need to look at your meals and decide on sides also and just get whatever that might be.

Even though she says that you have to eat the same thing 4 times a month (basically once a week) we are finding some recipes can be changed into different types of meals. One thing that we made was meat balls. Extremely killer meat balls. So we do them with spaghetti. But you can also do meat ball sandwiches, you could break them up and do pizzas, etc.  We did one of the slow cooker beef recipes and added it to rice to make a more asian type dish. Tonight we had it with the gravy it cooked in for a more american style. So even though you are cooking the same thing to eat 4 times it doesn’t have to be the EXACT same meal so don’t let that scare you. Also if you are happy with your junk food lunches for the kids as is OR if everyone eats lunch box lunches outside the home, you could use your lunches as dinners and only do the half a meal cook. I believe the breakfasts go a lot further then she thinks. We made 30 breakfast burritos alone and my family.. well maybe Tom.. doesn’t eat more then 1.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I know a lot of people were also bit by the curiosity bug on this idea and I’m happy to share our experience with you if you are on the fence about doing it or not.

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