Our schedule tends to be very hectic, especially now that my son has started Little League. In trying to balance my time so I can spend more time with my family after work yet still provide a healthy and nutritious meal, I decided to start making freezer meals after reading up on the concept at Once a Month Mom. I did a trial run in March and made about 1-1/2 weeks' worth of dinners, and it was worth it! So I decided to give the OAMM another whirl and do an entire month's worth of dinners--and a few breakfasts--when I picked up my April Angel Food Ministries (AFM) order on Saturday. You can read about why I buy from AFM by clicking here.
I had only purchased 1 regular box this time, but I had also bought the new seafood box and a 10 lb boneless/skinless chicken breast special, in addition to one fruit/veggie box.
Here's what I got:
My Once a Month Mom (OAMM) Menu:
- Banana Muffins (my husband's favorite; he said I was spoiling him)
- Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
- Banana Nut Bread (used my breadmaker)
- Chicken Fajita Crescent Braid
- Crunchy Baked Chicken
- Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
- Cheesy BBQ Chicken
- Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Chicken Marsala
- Creamed Chicken & Biscuits
- Lemon Parsley Chicken
- Lemony Chicken & Pasta Saute'
- Creamy Italian Chicken
- Chicken and Gravy
- Stir-Fried Garlic Shrimp
- Festive Shrimp Kabobs
- Honey Garlic Shrimp
- Pasta Crab Casserole
- Baked Fish Au Gratin
- Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon
- Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos
- Pepper Ribeye Steak
- Pepper New York Strip Steak
- Li'l Cheddar Meatloaves (used ground turkey)
- Saucy Beef Strips
- Pizza Rolls
For those of you interested, I will share my recipes with you in some upcoming posts. Be on the lookout!
My OAMM Cooking Extravaganza!!:
I thought I'd share with you some of my experience from my OAMM cooking extravaganza. Or should I say workout! Ten hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday in the kitchen. It was quite an accomplishment for me, considering I had two kids and a husband coming in & out of the kitchen, each vying for my time and attention.
Before starting, I made sure to grab a few "must have" items:
Rachel Ray has her garbage bowl; I have my garbage bag. I come home with a wad of plastic bags after each shopping trip, so I "recycle" them by throwing my cooking waste into one of these bags. My Grandma swears that the ink on the bags will transfer onto your kitchen counter if you don't turn them inside out. That has never been my experience, but I turned them out for this occasion. My Grandma would be proud. :)
A BIG cup of ice water. Cooking can really make you thirsty!
As for cooking, I used the stove, oven, breadmaker, Crock-pot, and rice cooker (I don't recommend cooking and freezing rice; I just used it because we ate the Chicken and Gravy for dinner Sunday evening, and I served that over rice). The Crock-pot really came in handy as I was able to make the Crock-pot Pork Tacos in my 3qt crock and the Creamy Italian Chicken in my 6qt crock. That allowed me to make more things on the stove, like Chicken Marsala (pictured here).
I used different methods to preserve my meals in the freezer. Which method I used depended on what I cooked. Anything that needed to be baked before serving, such as Pasta Crab Casserole, got placed into a disposable aluminum baking dish. Solid food items, such as Baked Fish Au Gratin, go in a vacuum-sealed food saver. Here's a pic of both meals.
Liquidy items, like Festive Shrimp Kebabs and Saucy Beef Strips, were put into gallon-size freezer bags. If you use freezer bags, make sure you get out as much air as possible; otherwise, your food may get frostburn.
OAMM Lessons Learned:
- I had intended on making homemade chicken stock with some of the chicken I cooked up. In fact, I had made the stock. But silly me left the stock sitting in the pan Saturday night after going bed, and it was still there when I came home from church Sunday and realized the error of my ways. So I had to throw it out. :/
- If there's one thing that I learned from this OAMM cooking extravaganza, it is this: NEVER, EVER use your Pampered Chef bar pan in the broiler!
I made the Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon in the broiler using my large bar pan, and was SO upset when I pulled it out and heard "crack" "crack, crack" "crack!" I managed to get the bar pan onto the counter before this occurred:A crack from one edge all the way to the other. 8(
Needless to say, I was not a happy cooker. My bar pan had finally reached that state of seasoning perfection, and everything I made on it was coming out fabulous. But, alas, I will need to contact my Pampered Chef consultant and start the process all over again with a new bar pan. Oh well, you live, you learn!
If you are looking for ways to balance your time, and you don't mind spending one or two days stuck in the kitchen, then I highly recommend that you make some freezer meals. The concept of OAMM cooking is really catching on. My friend Melissa at Melissa's Bargain Blogs is preparing for her own OAMM cooking extravaganza, and you can read about her efforts here. You can make your freezer meals as simple or as complicated as you want--you know your family's needs better than anyone else.
How about you? Do you make freezer meals? How has your OAMM experience turned out? Interested in starting OAMM cooking? Please sure your thoughts here!