One of the best ways for busy families to get organized and save money is to start making Freezer Dinners. Also known as Once A Month Cooking (OAMC), the art of making large batches of food and then freezing them for later in the month is not just a moneysaver but a timesaver for busy moms. Find a few good recipes that your family likes, watch the fliers for the ingredients to go on sale, plan a day or weekend to cook from dawn to dusk, and freeze your creations. Voila! Your cooking for the month is done.
Use the following guidelines to make your Freezer Dinners a success.
Kitchen Supplies You Will Need for Once-A-Month Cooking
Have the following items readily available prior to beginning your monthly cooking session:
- Permanent marker for labelling frozen stored meals.
- Labels for the food containers (I just use masking tape).
- Your preferred storage containers. These might be large size ziplock freezer bags, plastic tupperware containers, washed out peanut butter, margarine, yoghurt or ice cream containers, foil lasagna trays - whatever works best to safely store suitable portions for your family in your freezer.
- Two or three large stock pots.
5 Websites for Freezer Cooking Recipes
Best Foods for Once-A-Month Cooking
The best freezer dinners are those that can be cooked easily in large batches, have enough liquid to them that they don't dry out while frozen, and are easy to thaw and reheat. Soups, stews, casseroles, and meat pies work well. There are books and websites with recipes galore that have been specifically created to produce great once-a-month cooking dinners to freeze, but don't be afraid to try tailoring your own favourite recipes by adding a little more liquid or spice, and doubling or tripling the batches. Here is a list to get you started:
Books on Freezer Dinners
Tips for Successful Freezer Dinners
- buy meat, poultry or fish on sale and plan to use it for two or three different recipes. For example, several pounds of ground beef can be browned at once with garlic and chopped onion, then portioned to be used as the basis for Spaghetti Meat Sauce, Shepherd's Pie, and Chili.
- get your children and/or spouse involved chopping vegetables, grating cheese, and measuring out ingredients. Make a day of it by starting early, and reward yourselves with a special dessert on your Once-A-Month Cooking Day.
- start a Freezer Dinner swap with family or friends by making several batches of your best/favorite recipe. Swap with friends for a batch of his/her favourite dinner. This is a great way to introduce your family to new foods and get out of the "recipe rut" that we can so easily fall into.
- don't make a large batch of a new recipe until you and your family have tried it! It is disheartening to be stuck with four dinners of a pasty macaroni and cheese dish, or a chili dinner that is far too spicy to be enjoyed.