**This post is part of the “A Word About Wholefoods Series”. Click here to see the first post and links to other posts in the series.
In my last post of this series, I mentioned once-a-month cooking. I realize that this may well be a new term for many – it certainly was for me until recently – so I thought I would share a little about this way of eating healthily when time is not on your side!
When I was working full-time, studying part-time and trying to maintain my marriage to a youthworker who worked several evenings, time was definitely in short supply. I had committed to switching us to a healthier, more wholefoods lifestyle, but it was hard work, and I sometimes felt it just wouldn’t work with our timetables. Around this time, I discovered a good solution: once-a-month cooking.
There are many good descriptions of ways of freezer cooking in links at the bottom of this post, but here’s a little of my experience with this method (and another):
The basic concept of once-a-month cooking is quite simple – you set aside just one day a month to do your shopping and prepping. When you have your ingredients at home, you use your meal plan to assemble the ingredients for the recipes you will be using, and prep it as far as you feel is best, then freeze in individual meal portions. That way, all you need to do is take out the meal to defrost overnight or during the day, then when you get home from work, all you need to do is cook it/heat it up. If you have a slow cooker, it is even simpler: put the prepped ingredients in the slow cooker before you leave for work and set the timer, then food is ready by the time you get home!
This way of cooking is tiresome on that one day (that is a day to put on the dishwasher (or husband!) and have a very simple dinner like pizza, or even get take away), but it saves you so much time in the long run!
Now I have to say, as wonderful as this way is, I no longer use it. It worked well for us briefly, but now that I am no longer working, it just does not make sense for us to do the once-a-month way when I have the time to prep food for dinner on the day itself. Another reason, however, is that while this method works wonderfully for some, for others there are some different ways of doing it, and there is one that I believe suits me better. That is batch cooking.
So if I were to go back to full-time work and found myself swamped again, I personally would use the batch cooking method. This involves me making a meal plan for a fortnight and doubling it up for the month. In doing so, whenever I cook a meal, I make double the amount we need, and I freeze half of it for use later in the month.
I would still consider using once-a-month cooking again, and I know it suits many people and can even be cheaper, but my personality can struggle a little with it, especially since I really love cooking, and so sometimes I actually want to come home from work and roll my sleeves up and cook! I know, it’s weird, but I know there are some people who would agree with that. If that’s not your thing and you prefer the sound of one tiring day in exchange for very easy ‘ready-made’ healthy meals, then maybe once-a-month cooking is for you.
I hope you find the method that suits you best. I found Money Saving Mom‘s Guide to Freezer Cooking to be especially helpful, and it is free if you subscribe to her newsletter! 🙂