Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Once A Month Mom - my first try for March

I am quite tempted to just give you the pictures and let you imagine the words to go with them. But I will not do that, I'll give you details, because I know you will want them. *grin* My pictures are definitely out of order, but the point is still there and as a reader, you'll just have to appreciate them anyway.

About two weeks, maybe three now, I discovered a website called Once A Month Mom, quite literally
. The idea is quite interesting. The plan is with a partner (another mom or someone cooking for a family of four, so in total you are cooking for approximately eight) to bargain shop, and then cook for an entire day, and freeze your meals and in the end have a months worth of meals ready to eat at your beck and call (almost always after defrosting of course).

One of the first confusing issues, that makes so much sense once you have figured it out are the order of the menus, let me explain. The March menu becomes available on March 1st, then you spend the month of March searching and only buying what is on sale or you have coupons for a great deal. Then the last week of March, buy whatever ingredients you are lacking. Either in the last week of March or first week of April, make your meals and freeze them. Then you have food to eat through out the month of April. The April menu will be for May and so on. Get it?

Since I only discovered this a week or so ago, time flies and I'm confused, but either way it was not long. I made one huge trip to the grocery store and got everything that I needed (I had all but three spices, and was good on basics like flour, sugar, soy sauce, oils, etc). The kicker is that you are looking to spend about $150 for one family for the entire months meals. Yeah right, right? Well, DH (darling hubby) did not think that I could do it, and neither did I really. In the past when I have attempted to meal plan, a week or two would end up costing that much. Then I would get so depressed and upset about the funds that I would avoid the grocery store like the plaque for months eating only what we had or reverting to Ramen noodles and Salsa. *sigh*

Well, with all that said, I would like to inform you that for the March menu, I made THREE breakfast options, FOUR different lunches, and SEVEN dinners. Each of these will feed us twice and possible three times since at this time there is just pregnant me and starving DH. So, 14 meals, pretty well balanced meals. So the kicker, how much did I spend? $152.11 and quite frankly, I am certain that will feed us for more than one month. *grin* (I shall sit contently and smile a moment or two...)

Here we have the makings of Baked Chicken Fingers (above and below). First off, if you have not gotten the memo. I am pregnant. 21 and 1/2 weeks pregnant. Above that would be raw egg in that blue bowl. Raw eggs that I am dipping sliced raw chicken breasts in, then dredging in the crumb mixture and putting on the pan. I do not like raw things, I especially do not like messing with raw things during this up and down thing they call pregnancy. OMGoodness! This was a painful experience, those chicken fingers sure better be good... which they smelled fabulous, so I am sure they will be. But DH better appreciate them. ...

With the whole pregnancy thing, I am avoiding shrimp, so I took the Buffalo Shrimp and made it Buffalo Chicken. Quite yummy smelling too if you ask me. I am a huge fan of buffalo flavor and I am sure this will be well eaten in this family.

What is that you are looking at? More raw egg, yes. But it will be fabulous once cooked. This is the Farmer's Casserole, probably will be our Easter Brunch, my first attempt at an Easter Brunch, now this ought to be interesting.

Look (above) Raw chicken! It's okay though, it's marinading. There were also two different Salmon recipes, but some how they did not get pictured. Well, look at the chicken, now imagine it was one long piece of fresh salmon and that is about what the salmon dishes look like. *grin* I was "suppose" to have bough frozen salmon, but it was so much cheaper in my (Kroger) case to get the fresh salmon. The only issue is that all huge amount of servings are in the one bag. Oh well, salmon a couple days in a row (two different weeks). I will not mind and DH will survive.

Pizza Roll-ups. Did not cooperate. Look more burned in person. Not sure what I think about them.

Un-Stuffed Mexican Shells. Dinner tonight. Yum.
Exibit A. (above) Melt butter, but do not put it immediately into the cold milk and eggs, or the eggs cook and that is gross. Attempt #2 was much better, and did eventually turn into my purple pancakes. I mean Chocolate Chip Raspberry Pancakes (below). (Only issue, somehow all of the frozen raspberries ended up in the pancakes and none in the Raspberry Chicken... but that's okay.)

I got creative with the dishing and used these nifty Tupperware measure cups as a form (buy some from my sister - see side bar near the top, down a little, there ya go). I only have two crock pots. One I just got DH to buy me last year, the other was a hand-me-down and is quite older. The Spinach Tortilleni behaved quite well, but the Minestrone did not...

You could say it was a little over full... And then continuously would seep out the side. Smelled great. Big mess.

I have a bit of counterspace to work with, but not the best kitchen. I do however have the best helpers. They love to trip my unbalanced pregnant body as I walk from one side of the kitchen the other.

Orange Spice Muffins. Yum. (Sister B, you'd be pleased with the use of Flax seeds).
Sheperd's Pie. I could not have gotten any more veggies in this thing if I tried. Wait till I see DH's surprise when he eats some. haha.

The picture here (above) is not so great, boy was the food though! I will explain further in a minute. But my cooking day expanded past one day and this is what I was working on when DH got home. And he insisted we eat it then and there. So, Mandarin Orange Chicken for dinner it was, and boy was it a good one. Boy! (sorry had to, lol)

At the end of it all, here is my one and only freezer. I am begging for another freezer. DH is adament about no chest freezer, silly boy. But he will look at the idea of a stand alone freezer, if only a cube. That's something right?

So, recap. It was suppose to be one full day of non stop cooking with a partner. One, I'm all alone and have not a clue first off to meet people in my new town (east of Atlanta, Georgia) and two, I like cooking so after going through and dividing all of the ingredients in half on the recipes and on the grocery list, I felt I was good to go. First, I woke up late, and got a fairly late start of about 10:00 AM or so. Second, I overheated by the stove, and my pregnant body fought back. I'll leave it at that, but that made me take a rest which took away some of my needed cooking time as well. Finally, about the time I was working on the Mandarin Orange Chicken, DH got home hungry, and my feet were protesting, so my day was forcibly at an end with several meals accomplished: Spinach Tortillini Soup, Jamie's Minestrone, Shepherd's Pie, Mexican "Un"Stuffed Shells, Orange Spice Muffins, Pizza Roll-Ups, Raspberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Raspberry Chicken, Mandarin Orange Chicken, and Buffalo Chicken. . DAY TWO: Woke up, started in on the recipes I had not completed: Baked Chicken Fingers, Orange Marmalade Marinade Salmon, Firecracker Salmon, and Farmer's Casserole. Only problem was, in between the two Salmon dishes I ran out of Soy Sauce! How does that happen!?!

Well, I had to go to the store, but I had to wait until the chicken fingers could come out of the oven. Then a neighbor came over (working on forging a friendship here) and then I figured if I was going to go to the store I might was well figured out what I can buy for April. *sigh* So finally, I get my list and get on to the store! The only that I bought that was not on sale and did not have a coupon was the Soy Sauce. *sigh* Oh well, completely necessary!

And now, I have some ingredients ready for April that were all on sale and had coupons!

For more information about Once A Month Mom, check out these links:

My overall opinion. My feet hurt and I would love to do it with someone, but I loved it and cannot wait for next month. All of the food smelled so great, and I am sure that DH will love it all. Now if only I can plan what to eat when...

9 comments and creative thoughts: said...

This was absolutely hilarious. Hope it was suppose to be hilarious. It does sound like an ordeal. The "last" time I did OAMC before February was last June when I was 6 months pregnant. It was torture and took WAY longer than normal. Your body just can't move as quickly or efficiently when you are pregnant.

I applaud your efforts.

I look forward to reading more in the future.

VanderbiltWife said...

Wow! I am impressed. I'm dying to try the OAMC but I have a bitty baby and I hate to give up one Saturday with her...but it would just create more time for us in the evenings! Hrm.

Your dishes look delicious and I applaud you for doing this all pregnant!

CherryBlossomMJ said...

Other than the meltdown on Monday, and running out of the Soy Sauce on Tuesday and making an emergency Kroger run. Things were fabulous!

Oh, and other than not pulling anything out for today's lunch. What?! I cooked for how long and have no lunch today?!!?

It is hard while pregnant. Definitely a fact, and I will do much better when not pregnant for the back and forth and on the feet time. But my thoughts are... I do not know many people here, and when this little girl decides to make her appearance in mid-August, there is no telling whether or not I will have people bringing me food. So, if I keep this up, I'll have my own stash homemade and ready to go! Thaw and cook, thaw and cook, thaw and cook. Just gotta remember that thaw part...

No idea how it will be once I have this little girl here for cooking days, but until then, huge or no, I will cook!

Lindsey said...

I was thinking that! That it was great you can do this in case no one brings you food after the baby is born. No one brought us food (we had just moved and didn't know many people) and I can't even remember what we did. I think like frozen lasagna and that kind of thing.

I am SO impressed! Do you usually cook like that? Those recipes I mean? Or are those from the OAMM site? I love this idea. Gonna have to think about whether it's possible for me. lol

Oh and I love your helpful cats, and all your pictures, too! I'm a visual person. I need pictures. :-) Everything look waaay too good. Too bad I live across the country. *sigh* ;-)

CherryBlossomMJ said...

I agree Lindsey, you'd be a great cooking partner! Only the entire distance of the US between us right?

Cooking recipes like this for me would usually be one extravagant meal a month for us, and then I'd go into my pouting mode for how much money I spent. These recipes were all from the website. They get their recipe ideas from an endless number of resources, be it cook books or other bloggers.

Cortney @ said...

Great post, caught myself laughing, not at you of course, but with you. I am super impressed that you did it alone AND pregnant. Good for you!!

Julie J. said...

I've really enjoyed reading this MJ!! I would love to be your cooking partner but I'm not a cook. I also would have to cook for 8 as opposed to a smaller number. I could be convinced maybe to do it once just for fun! Anytime you want to get together in the evening, I'd be happy to get together! I know we don't know each other well, but we're practically neighbors!!

I hadn't heard of OAMM but it sounds like a great idea. I'll think about it and see what I can come up with. I'm sure it would be helpful to me to eat at home more than on the road!!! Your pictures are making me hungry!!

Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam said...

Yea - just found your blog and already love the onceamonthmom ladies. How fun, and congrats. You did an awesome job!!

CherryBlossomMJ said...

Thanks Jen!

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