My dear friend and SaratogaMama contributor Christine Rudnick (far right in pic) planted the seed. The key ingredients? 4 busy mama’s, one large-ish kitchen, more ingredients than you’d ever need, enough food to feed a small army. The result: A Mama Night OAMC Extravaganza!
By the way, I had never even heard of the term Once-A-Month-Cooking before all this and being someone who doesn’t quite find joy in cooking, I was more than a little skeptical. According to Christine, “Every mama needs a freezer meal in their weekly menu plan!”. Right…. my weekly menu plan. I’ll get right on that!
“The concept of once-a-month cooking (OAMC) is to spend a set time cooking, be it a day or two, but with an end result of having enough meals to last through the whole month. OAMC recipes usually involve freezing the meals until needed,” Christine explains.
This all sounded good to me, but what would I need to do?
Christine explains that there are several ways to go about doing OAMC. Here are some strategies:
- Go Mad!
- Prepare and store 3 batches of 3-6 of your favorite family recipes the day after a big shop for all the ingredients.
- Freeze flat or in stackable containers.
- Voila! – 9-27 meals ready when you need them.
- Repeat monthly.
- Go Steady!
- Once a week, prepare an extra 2 batches of the meal you are making your family for dinner that night.
- Freeze the 2 batches.
- After a month, you have an 8 meal stock of dinners.
- Keep up with that cycle weekly! You’ll be golden!
- Go Together!
- Host your own OAMC Mama Night! An OAMC Mama night is the modern mama’s cookie exchange.
- Gather a favorite recipe and prepare to make enough batches for each of your invited friends and one for your family freezer.
- Invite your friends to do the same – each bringing the freezer bag or container that is right for their meal and the instructions for re-heating.
- Make sure to meet all allergy & dietary needs!
- Serve finger foods and tasty beverages while everyone cooks!
- Go home with one of your recipes and one from each of your friends.
So what happened at our Mama Night OAMC Extravaganza?
Four friends; Christine (our fearless leader), Kristen (all thumbs in the kitc
hen like me!), Joy (definitely more ‘seasoned’ than Kristen and I) and myself arrived with ingredients and promptly got busy in the kitchen. We all arrived with our meals at various points. Kristen came directly from Hannaford having just purchased all her ingredients, Joy also brought the ingredients to prep while there, but had done a dry run, Christine (the most organized person I know) could have prepared her meal blind, and I, having a somewhat more complicated meal of stuffed shells came with my homemade sauce already in freezer bags, and the stuffing prepared. We basically worked together on one meal at a time, but there was a lot of multi-tasking. Once the meal was prepared, we cooled the food we prepared as fast as possible, than froze immediately.
We sipped cocktails, made messes, ate finger food, laughed, laughed so hard we almost cried, prepped, chopped, boiled, stirred, sauteed, stuffed, rolled, froze and ended the night with cheesecake and coffee with homemade creamer.
I left with four meals, my own turkey/spinach stuffed shells and sauce, Joy’s Mediterranean fish dish, Kristen’s chicken and black bean soup, and Christine’s vegetarian enchiladas with sauce on the side. I thought the night was a huge success! I had a blast cooking with friends (way more fun than cooking alone), and I felt so accomplished bringing home four meals to feed my family.
I encourage you to try a Once-A-Month Mama Night with a few of your friends. You’ll soon be hooked!
Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites: More Great Recipes That Save You Time and Money from the Inventors of the Ultimate Do-Ahead Dinnertime Method – $10, Amazon.com
Dream Dinners: Turn Dinnertime into Family Time with 100 Assemble-and-Freeze Meals – $15, Amazon.com