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Once a Month Cooking Experiment: Part I Prep & Shopping

“What’s for dinner?” asks someone in my family every evening on our way home, which is usually after 5pm. Totally stressful coming home not knowing what we are going to have for dinner. Usually, it is what we call a “Free for All.” Whatever, you can find or make.

Since this isn’t the most healthy or economical situation, I’ve decided to make a change this month.

Have you ever heard of the Once a Month Mom? If you haven’t, it is a site by a friend of mine Tricia, who does these fabulous meal plans every month. I’ve raved about her before but I’ve never actually done a full once a month menu.

I’m finally doing it.  I’m not a big fan of cooking as it just take too much time to prep, make, and clean up! I’m looking forward to basically just one day of cooking and the rest of the month enjoying the meals I cooked and sharing them with my family.

As promised, I’m going to share this experiment with you!

To start with, I’ve done batch cooking before. However, it has been me compiling the lists and is not organized in any way. Invariably, I would always be missing a couple of key ingredients. With the Once a Month Mom’s handy grocery list, I was able to check my pantry for items I already had and then create my grocery list to shop for the items I needed.

I had quite a few items already in my pantry and refrigerator, which was good news. However, I still needed quite a bit on the list including some expensive items like spices and meat.

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(Items I already had stockpiled)

I decided to do this on Tuesday, which didn’t allow me much time to stockpile some of the list items at a the best prices. However, I decided in the end, I would be saving money and time so I went ahead and splurged on the remaining items. I spent $225 additional at the grocery store and much of that was fresh produce, spices, and a few items I purchased so I could make portions of each recipe meatless. I would estimate I had $50 in stockpile items already purchase for a total of around $275.

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(This is all of the pantry items I need to complete my meals!)

Once a Month Mom (Tricia) held a Facebook discussion tonight for questions pertaining to the September Menu. As soon as I get this post done, I’m going to get chopping.

I’m really enjoying the step by step instructions and already have our meat in the crockpots cooking. Tricia has years of experience of once a month cooking and has to spend hours creating these menu plans and detailed instructions. I’m looking forward to using her information and get cracking!

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Oh, Once a Month Mom highly recommends a cooking partner! Since, I decided to do this minute and Bryan claims I’m a loner, I didn’t get anyone to partner up with me. I do think I’m a bit crazy!

Stay tuned for updates on the actual cooking day, the meals, and follow up!

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comments { 12 Comments }
  • ichan rizkan - December 09, 2010 @ 7:38 pm 10

    Great read! You might want to follow up to this topic! :)

  • dj - September 22, 2010 @ 4:39 pm 9

    wow….wish i had friends to do this with when my children were younger. would like the recipes for the recipes shown for the september….

  • Llita Colyer - September 20, 2010 @ 3:44 pm 8

    Briana,
    I am curious. The $275 that you said it cost, is that for the full recipes that are listed on the site, or did you half them? My friend and I are wanting to do this next month, but we are curious about what the costs would be.

  • Ali - September 17, 2010 @ 7:29 pm 7

    Sounds like a good plan! Just a heads up on the spices, they are much less expensive and alot fresher if you buy them from the bulk jars at a whole food store or health food store. One of my favorites is Sprouts Farmers Market (http://sprouts.com/home.php?goto=ad). I could get lost in there for hours. They have lots of other good stuff and reasonably priced, local produce.

  • LaVonne - September 17, 2010 @ 11:00 am 6

    I can’t wait to get these updates. We are vegetarian and I’d love to see what you have done with the recipes :)

  • pam - September 17, 2010 @ 9:13 am 5

    This is how I have always done it, I think it even helps save money doing it this way. I even have my children help with the meal plaining, I have a calender and each month on their week they fill in the weeks, so the guessing game is over we know what we are having (I that way I have help deciding what to fix – which I hate doing)….

  • Kari - September 17, 2010 @ 8:47 am 4

    I’m interested to see how it goes for you! I wish someone made such a thing intended for a couple instead of a family though.

    • Briana Carter - September 17, 2010 @ 10:27 pm 4.1

      You can actually adjust all the recipes to fit your lifestyle! I made some adjustments to ours…which I will post about later! :)

  • Stephi - September 16, 2010 @ 11:13 pm 3

    I recently bought two cook books called “Once A Month Cooking” & “Once A Month Cooking: Family Favorites”. Seeing as I have a small family and DH has odd work hours I just picked out one of the two week cycles to cook and split some of the dishes that were designated for 10 servings and the like. It was completely AWESOME!

    With frequent Facebook breaks, a 2 year old, and an 8 year old assisting me – we had everything prepped, cooked, complied, in the freezer, and cleaned up within 5 hours. …Even though with the help of everyone, including my awesome husband, shopping took approximately 9 hours. (6 different trips due to fussy toddler, fussy 8 year old, or fussy husband, and not being able to actually FIND what was all on my shopping list)

    I can’t wait to check out more Once A Month variations from others!! It makes my bad flare up days much better knowing that for the most part even my 8 year old knows how to turn on the oven and pop something in.

    Definitely clean up as you go along, and find a partner, even if it is a child! Also, don’t forget a radio, turned way up, and dance with the littles, it makes it great fun, with fewer tantrums!

  • Tricia (Once A Month Mom) - September 16, 2010 @ 10:40 pm 2

    Great post on the start of it all. You will do a great job. And don’t expect me to ask how it went anytime before Monday. It is a bit like labor, but once your feet rest and you are enjoying meals it all comes into perspective.

  • Andrea @ SavingsLifestyle - September 16, 2010 @ 10:36 pm 1

    Next time we need to plan and you and the kids can come visit so we can do this together!! It’s a shame that I have to beg my friend from a different state to do this with me.

    • Briana Carter - September 17, 2010 @ 10:26 pm 1.1

      LOL. I was trying to figure out who this Andrea from Savings Lifestyle was! :)

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