The title, Once a Month Cooking, made me laugh. Cook once a month? I didn’t need a book to do that. I needed the motivation to cook the other 29 days of the month, too!
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I didn’t actually read that book until years later when I met up with co-author Mary Beth Lagerborg. I learned that “once-a-month cooking” is a method of preparing a month’s (or two weeks’) dinner entrees in one mega-cooking session, and then freezing them for use throughout the month.
While Mary Beth along with her co-author Mimi Wilson have developed a specific and thorough plan for preparing many meals at one time, any effort that results in preparing meals now to be used later has decided benefits:
1. Convenience. Having entrees in the freezer provides the convenience of take-out but with the aroma, appeal and taste of home cooking.
2. Simplification. Nothing unravels the seams of family time faster than having nothing on hand for dinner. Knowing dinner’s ready to go promotes household calm and peace.
3. Flexibility. Having your freezer stocked with entrees means you can welcome last-minute guests without feeling embarrassed, ticked off or stressed out. A meal-stocked freezer allows a family to carry on even when the home keeper is traveling, has surgery, a new baby or when the holidays approach.
4. Economy. Take-out food is expensive, and so are trips to the market at 5:00 pm. A quick stop for milk can result in a basket filled with impulse items.
Contrary to what many believe, not all frozen entrees are high in carbohydrates and fat. The authors of Once-a-Month Cooking have been careful to develop recipes that freeze well that are also nutritional and not high in fat. They’ve even addressed the challenge of freezer space, insisting that by following specific instructions, a month’s worth of meals for a family of big eaters can fit into the freezer portion of the typical refrigerator.
Trying to go from barely cooking to cooking for an entire month in one session may be represent an unreasonable leap. Instead, work up to it.
Start small. When you make that meat loaf for tonight’s dinner, make two. Before baking, wrap one of them tightly, label and pop it into the freezer. There! You’re on your way. You’ve anticipated a dinner meal for another day.
Do the same thing tomorrow and the next day. Soon you’ll be ready to advance to the next level of mega-meal preparation: Preparing a week’s worth of entrees at one time. Then move to two weeks and perhaps eventually an entire month’s worth of meals. You might even consider turning your efforts into a social event by cooking together with a friend and then sharing the results.
If the idea of cooking for a day then eating for month appeals to you, I highly recommend that you pick up both of Mary Beth and Mimi’s books, which are just terrific: Once-A-Month Cooking and Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites. They’ve done all the hard work for you, so you and your friends can just relax and have all the fun.
Trust me, Mary Beth and Mimi know their stuff. In the nearly 30 years since they first formulated their ingenious method of once-a-month-cooking, millions of adoring fans have more than proven this is a system that’s here to stay!