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Cooking a month worth of meals in a single afternoon may sound like a challenge, but in fact, it’s totally do-able and an amazing way to meal plan for a month! One month freezer cooking is a game-changer if you are looking to get back more time by reducing the time spent in the kitchen.
These tips will help you to create the perfect once a month cooking plan for you and your family so you can cook for a day, eat for a month!
How We Got Started With Once A Month Cooking
Freezer cooking is something we started back in 2012 when my husband went on full-time night shift.
Anyone married to a night shift worker will tell you it ain’t much fun cooking dinner for one, along with the fact that it can be a pain trying to come up with dinner ideas each day for the shift worker to take with them to work too.
Pair that with the chaos of mum life and running my own home business, yep… batch cooking was something that helped my sanity big time as a new mum!
We began cooking extra-large meals on weekends just so we would have a few leftover meals to freeze for dinners through the week. Half for my husband to take to work and the other half for me to have after a long day of work.
Or as our situation changed, to minimise the effort it took to put a meal on the table for me while home solo at night with a baby or toddler.
Our freezer cooking progressed into something we planned, creating a monthly freezer meal plan we could prepare in a single afternoon cook up.
This began our once-a-month cooking habit.
Freezer Cooking: Tips For Cooking A Month Of Meals In One Day
It seems like a time-consuming task, creating a whole month of meals for a family of 2 or more. But it really isn’t.
The best part is that you can load your freezer with a month worth of meals in just a few hours if you work together!
Meal planning is a great way to save time and money, by reducing food waste and making the most of the ingredients you have.
You can’t be successful at monthly cooking without a solid meal plan!
Meal planning can seem a bit daunting for some, but freezer cooking makes meal planning easier.
Tip: We aim to have at least 8 different freezer meals planned out in our meal plan because this way you aren’t repeating the same meal in the same week. It avoids you getting bored with your options.
Have A Well-Stocked Pantry
At least one day before your cooking session, make a plan of what meals you will be cooking and ensure you have all the ingredients you need.
If not, head to the shops and stock up on everything you need so you don’t find yourself missing any essentials on the day.
GET ORGANISED WITH YOUR MEAL PLANNING
Make extra-large servings
You can save a lot of time by simply making larger bulk portions of each meal. Consider doubling your recipe to make twice as much as usual.
The larger the quantities, the more servings you will get.
By doing this, you may not even need to do monthly cook ups. You can just keep adding to your freezer meal stocks by cooking a large meal once or twice a week.
This makes it super easy and usually more cost-effective too!
The size of your meals and the number of servings you make will also depend on the number of people in your household.
For us, it was mostly just us 2 adults initially. Once our kids were older, the quantities increased.
Make a variety of recipe styles
It helps if you can have more than one meal cooking at once. This is the biggest time saver when cooking bulk meals.
Have the slow cooker or Instant Pot on, while you also have a stovetop meal cooking. Meanwhile, you may also have something cooking in the oven or boiling in a pot. This is where teamwork is a huge help, so you aren’t juggling too much on your own!
This reduces time waiting for one appliance to make all your meals, one after the other.
If you’re a Thermomixer, no doubt that’s going to be your go-to.
We haven’t converted to Thermomix here yet. In fact, I still don’t entirely know how they work! We are big air fryer fans though!
Check out loads of simple freezer meal recipes if you need some extra inspiration.
More hands make for faster work. My husband and I do the freezer month worth of meals cook up together, each taking on different recipes or duties to get the job done quicker.
There are sometimes moments of frustration if someone is in the way, but it makes a big difference compared to when I used to do this alone.
If you have older kids, you can get them involved too which not only helps to teach them responsibility but can also be a great bit of family bonding too!
Fellow Aussies!!! If you haven’t read it yet, The Barefoot Investor for Families book will tell you the importance of teaching your kids how to cook some simple, inexpensive meals, before they move out of home. It will help them be better prepared for their financial future. Bonus!
RELATED READING: Gifts for people who like to cook
Freezer Cooking Swaps
Make a plan with friends or family to each do a big cook up of different meals and then exchange half of each meal so you have more variety and no extra time in the kitchen.
This is such a brilliant way to increase your meal repertoire and help each other out with your once a month cooking plan.
The best way to do a freezer cooking meal swap is to discuss what you plan to cook in advance to make sure you aren’t doubling up on the same freezer recipes.
Storage For Freezer Meals
Make sure you have the right kind of storage system that works for you. We are lucky enough to have a free-standing deep freezer and a smaller freezer at the top of the refrigerator too.
Because it is easier for hubby to take them to work and reheat, we use recyclable plastic containers with lids and stack them in the freezer.
If you are short on space, freezer or sandwich bags are a great space saver.
Just defrost in advance, remove from the bag, and reheat them in the microwave or oven to warm up.
Try a vacuum bag sealer and make them even more compact!
Always Plan Ahead
Every meal has the potential to create leftovers so start doubling your serves through the week or on the weekends when you cook too so you can continually be topping up your monthly freezer meals.
This means you may space out the time between when you need to do your next big cook up.
If you are entertaining, you are hardly likely to pull out last month’s microwave lasagne in single person serves, so on these occasions when you are cooking on the night, don’t be shy to make it a feast with the foods you know will reheat well.
This post was first published in September 2014.
Do you use meal planning or freezer cooking in your home? Leave a comment below.