A store filled with lots of food

Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month

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!

A store filled with lots of food, with Freezer and Refrigerator

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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!

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7 replies
  1. eveh says:

    I’ve done this many times throughout my life. It is a grand idea! Unless your freezer goes down. The first time I had my freezer full and woke up one day to find every thing thawing out. Ouch! So, I was broken-hearted but I did get a new freezer and have used this method a lot since then. I’ll check out this book. The one I used from the seventies leaned heavily on rice and pasta. Thanks Mary.

  2. Emily Booth says:

    I live alone. I am one of those odd birds who likes to cook and grocery shop. Everything I make is “batch” cooking. I either freeze half or freeze individual portions. BTW, I enjoy reading cookbooks so I clicked on your link. The reviews said the book has many recipe and ingredient errors.

    • Chris says:

      I am like you. I am married, but if I lived alone I would do it too, because I like cooking and I like reading cookbooks. If I see a good recipe I get excited about making it! I Love pinterest and seeing all the good ideas about batch cooking!

  3. Sheila Wood says:

    I’m getting ready to do another cook this weekend – it will be the fourth time. I wish my kitchen floor was padded, because by the time I am done, my feet hurt so bad! Although, because I have now done this a few times, I’m getting much faster. I don’t cook at all, I just do ingredient assembly.

  4. Marietta Walker says:

    i always make 3 or 4 meatloaf’s at a time and meatballs at same time .. if i’m going to get messy do it all at one time … always have frozen soup in freezer ! You just have to remember to take the meatloaf out 2 days before so it thaws in fridge ! meatballs i cook and freeze and toss in spaghetti sauce while noodles are cooking !

  5. Karen says:

    I own four large slow cookers that I purchased over time at a thrift store. Once every two or three months, I have all four cookers working at the same time. I do this during a weekend; once on Saturday and again on Sunday. Each slow cooker on each of those days is cranking up a different recipe, which means I have eight different kinds of meals to divide into storage containers and freeze. So easy!

  6. Chris says:

    It’s just my husband and I at home now, the kids have been out of the house for a couple of years now. Making two of a casserole is way too much for us. At first I cooked the way I did when there were 4 of us, and we would try to eat all of it, usually having to eat the same thing 4-5 times over the course of a week to get it all eaten. Finally I started freezing some after we’d eaten all we could stand of it. Now I’ve gotten to where I will either make half a recipe of something, or if I do make the whole thing, I immediately freeze half. We love homemade soups, and those are great to put in the freezer and pull out and heat in the microwave for dinner. I still love to put a beef or pork roast or a chicken in the crockpot while at work and come home and shred it for sandwiches. I freeze enough for the 2 of us in quart size bags so I can pull one out and thaw it while the rest stays frozen. So even if you don’t have a large family, there are ways to do it for two as well!


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