Does Once a Month Cooking Save Money?
I have thought a lot about Once A Month Cooking. It seems to be all the rage and I can see how it would really benefit someone that wasn't going to be around at dinner time to cook a meal. Many people say that it saves you money to just shop once a month and do all your cooking for the month right then. I am not so sure this is true.
My first thought when it comes to Once a Month Cooking is that there is no way I could ever purchase everything I needed to feed a family of 6 breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at one time and have it last a whole month. The milk would not fit in the fridge and the amount needed would go bad by the end of the month as would the produce. Not everything lasts a month in the fridge. So I would see myself still running to the store a couple of times for milk, produce and eggs.
My second thought is that if I picked a day this week to purchase everything I needed for my OAMC menu for the next month I would be forced to do one of two things. Either work my entire menu around what is on sale this week (i.e. ground beef and pork loin) or purchase exactly what I needed at whatever price it was that day. So some things I might need would be on sale, but many would not. Paying full price for many of the items I need would definitely not save me money. The biggest way I save money at the grocery store is by purchasing the sale items. When the sale items are at their lowest prices I will purchase a lot - I aim for enough to last until the next sale. I couldn't do this if I was cooking the OAMC way.
While I consider Once A Month Cooking a great idea and I am sure it works for many people, I don't think it would work for me. I am fortunate enough to be home most afternoons and able to cook. However I still love to have meals in the freezer that I can pull out at a moments notice. So I try to make meals ahead as I can. This week ground beef is on sale and I will purchase a lot of it - six pounds to be exact. When I get home I will make two meatloafs, a triple batch of meatballs, and a dish of porcupine scramble. I will also brown some up for other meals that call for browned ground beef, as well as form some hamburger patties for the freezer. When sausage is on sale I will make ahead some stuffing balls and sausage rigatoni bake. I will also brown some up for pizza toppings.
Purchasing a lot of something when it is a great sale allows me to put some meals in the freezer at a much lower cost than if I bought the ingredients full price for Once A Month Cooking. Shopping and cooking this way definitely saves me money as well as time. I don't think that Once A Month Cooking saves someone money. However it probably saves them time and could very well be a lifesaver for the very busy person who walks in the door at dinner time each night. You have to figure out what works for you and what is more important - saving money or time.