Saturday, March 3, 2012

A month of dinner done in a day!

Yep, that's right! I said a month of dinner D-O-N-E all in one day! If your wondering how to do this then you came to the right place. With the help of some of my new 'friends' I discovered how to cook some delicious meals for the entire month in just under 7 hours. (I apologize in advance for such a lengthy post.)  First of all a little bit of background. I love to cook meals for my family but there are a couple of nights during the week that I am not able to cook dinner because I am at my second or third job.  My first job is being a stay at home mom during the day and I am also a nurse at a local hospital and teach cake decorating a couple nights a week . In addition to this I may have one or two cakes to make during the week for a customer and if I left dinner up to my husband he would only serve pizza or ravioli. So one day I happened to ask on Facebook if anyone knew of any great crock-pot/freezer meals that were healthy. A friend of mine suggested checking out one of her boards on Pinterest and well the rest is history. This sparked a whole chain of events. First I fell in love with Pinterest and actually started to understand it. I then discovered the world of once a month cooking and found a whole bunch of great slow cooker recipes and even blogs about this. (Click here for a good one.) I have always had a love/hate relationship with my crock-pot. Love that all you have to do is throw everything in it and call it a day. Love that your entire house smells like what ever yummy recipe you are making. Hate that it feels like it weighs 20 pounds and having to lug it out from underneath the cabinet. Hate that no matter how much cooking spray I use, it is still the biggest pain in the butt to clean up afterwards. Now after discovering a few tips and tricks I have nothing but love for it.

 In order to be successful with once a month cooking you have to be able to devote one entire day to this. (Believe me it is worth it after all is said and done.) I usually pick a weekend day that I know my husband will be able to tag team in the kitchen with me or with our daughter. The night before I write down what meals I want to make and get my grocery list started. (I seriously think this part could be it's on post because it is a little time consuming as well.) For each recipe that you are making you will need to double the ingredients. So basically if the recipe calls for two cups of chopped onions you will need four. (Sorry to "dumb-it down", but I like when people really explain stuff!) The next morning I get up SUPER early before the rest of the gang gets up and head to the store. (Side note: I LOOOOVE grocery shopping and when I have BIG trips like this I choose to leave the husband and baby at home for time reasons.) When I get home I start prepping everything. With the help of my husband and a food processor we slice and dice all the vegetables needed for each recipe.

This little guy makes life a lot easier too!!

We then get started on the meat.  If you are making a crock-pot meal then you do not need to cook it, but if its for a casserole then you will need to brown everything.  Then after that we divide each doubled recipe up into a labeled freezer bags along with the spices, vegetables and meat.  Like I said before this is SUPER time consuming but it will change your life!! It takes us about 6 to 7 hours from start to finish and I imagine that if you did not have a toddler running around it will take even less time.  Here is what her day looked like while we slaved away in the kitchen.

She did a little coloring.

She played with her doll house.

She had a "birthday party."
She also "helped" us in the kitchen and then she napped, oh the life!!!

Here are is a list of everything we made.  Click on the link for the recipe. 

First of all we eat a lot of chicken because I have never cared for red meat, pork or turkey and chicken is so versatile.  Secondly if the recipe calls for ground beef you can always substitute ground chicken, turkey or soy.  Last if the recipe calls for a can or a jar of something I do not put this in the freezer bag. I wait and add this along with the freezer bag of food on the morning of.    Remember that we doubled each of these recipes and were even able to triple some of them!! We ended up having a total of SIXTEEN meals and most of the time each recipe will yield leftovers for the next day.

TA-DA!!!! (Sadly I couldn't fit it all in the picture.)

Don't forget to add these Slow Cooker Liners to your grocery list.  You will thank me later when you are no longer scrubbing your pot FOR-EVER!

Finally set your freezer bag out thirty minutes prior to putting it all in the crock-pot.

 If your wondering about the cost my grocery bill,  it ran a little over $320 dollars. This averages out to be about $80.00 a week and is a DEAL to me considering the cost of groceries now!  (Keep in mind this does not include fresh fruit and I *try* to buy organic veggies when possible and I use coupons!) 
Whew, I think that is everything!!
 Please leave any questions or comments that you may have.  I would love to hear about your experience with once a month cooking or any recipes you feel like sharing.
As always thanks so much for stopping by!!


  1. If you forget the slow cooker bag, easy clean up includes a dryer sheet and water. Put a dryer in your dirty crock pot, fill with water and let it sit overnight. In the morning, rinse it out!Good as new!

    1. Hmmm, learn something new everyday!! Thanks for the tip!!

  2. Wow - I don't know how you do it! SAHM, Nurse and now a Wilton class and your cakes?? I am tired just thinking about it! I love the idea of once a month cooking and need to try it. You must have a huge freezer :). It would be great to be able to pull out a meal and not think about it! Thanks for the info - I am going to try this soon.

    1. LOL! I pretty much stay tired Susan. ;) I know you understand all about chasing after a 2 year old all day long. They are more work then any full time job, but I am very thankful to be a SAHM!! You must try this freezer cooking, you will love it. Let me know how it turns out!! :)