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Down in the O(am)C


They are 4 letters that intimidate me. A lot.

OAMC, or Once-a-month Cooking, is a common meal planning technique that is pretty self-explanatory. You set aside one day (or one weekend) per month, and do an all-out cooking marathon. You prepare an entire month's worth of dinners for the freezer in one fell swoop. I can't imagine surviving such an undertaking without several chocolate martinis...which means there's no guarantee the last few dishes would be edible. :)

However, the end result appeals to me a LOT. I imagine my basement freezer stacked to the brim with neatly packaged mini-meals. If I have to work at night, hubby can tap into a storehouse of homemade TV dinners and I don't have to worry that the peanut is getting hot dogs and mac & cheese AGAIN. Meal planning that just involves a quick inventory in the basement. And me, freed from the bonds of the kitchen for 28 days out of the month...where's that martini?

There are lots of OAMC resources out there for those of us thinking of getting started:

Mom's Budget - a good quick reference FAQ list. Check out their recipe listings too!
Real Food for Real People - cookbooks listing complete with links to Amazon
Cook of the Month - a beta freezer cooking site that lets you select recipes, and organizes them to create a shopping list for you
Bulk Cooking by Jennia Hart - a wealth of how-to links, recipes, and planning tips

This is just the tip of the iceberg - because in truth, you can expand any of your favorite recipes to make them bulk-friendly. You can double or triple family favorites, and AllRecipes.com allows you to increase or decrease the number of servings on their recipes and adjusts the ingrediets accordingly, taking the math out of your hands. If I'm going to spend 10 hours cooking, I don't want to wrestle with a calculator too! The key to the whole process is PLANNING. Planning your shopping to maximize savings, planning your cooking day to be efficient in the kitchen, planning your packaging to freeze things in usable portions and label them for easy reference later.

I don't know if I will ever get to the point where I will make a whole month at a time, but it will definitely be worth my while to consider making three or four dishes in large batches to give me a buffer in meal planning. And when the produce sales hit, I can cook and freeze and not worry about either watching my savings spoil in the fridge, or serving 3 pounds of zucchini for dinner.

No matter what, it's another tool in my arsenal - whether it's used a little or a lot, OAMC (*shiver*) is definitely going to help take the mission to the next level. I just need to dust off those martini glasses....

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