Katie Conner, a busy mom of six that lives in Augusta, GA, used to dread dinnertime until she started practicing once-a-month cooking (OAMC), a cooking method also known as bulk or freezer cooking that involves setting aside a day or two to cook a month's worth of meals and then storing them in the freezer. "It never fails. My kids all get crabby starting at 5 o'clock. For awhile, I just thought I didn't like to cook, but I realized I just didn't like the circumstances under which I usually had to cook," she says. "Now I concentrate on cooking one weekend every two to three months instead of worrying about it every night. I love the peace that it brings to the dinner hour."
Not only does cooking once a month mean less time in the kitchen and more time with your family, but also buying in bulk can help stretch your food dollar. "You can buy restaurant supply-size cans of things and it saves money because you're not paying for all those little bitty cans of things," Conner says. If you're really frugal, you can shape your meals by planning around what specials are going on at grocery stores. Chicken on sale? Then stock up on it and plan to throw together some casseroles, enchiladas and other dishes where chicken plays the starring role.
And believe it or not, whipping up a lot of meals ahead of time doesn't demand the culinary skills of Rachael Ray. Nor do you have to be a highly organized domestic diva to pull it off. "I'm not a naturally organized person," Conner says. "Anyone can do this."
Ready to simplify evening chowtime and save some cash? Here's how to get started with freezer cooking:
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