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Once-A-Month Cooking – Cooking Day

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Cooking Day, boy, I must have been excited because I woke up right before my alarm went off on Wednesday morning. I was ready to go!

I followed the instructions that I printed off of  the Once-A-Month Mom’s site and did my best to follow each step.

I won’t give you the play-by-play because that would take all day but I will list a few of the highlights:

  • I started with Stuffed Pancake Cupcakes (which came out great!) I made these gluten free by using Pamela’s Gluten Free Mix.
  • I was pretty hesitant making the Beef Empanadas, but we ate them last night and they were delicious!
  • Using a liner for the crockpots is a great investment, I saved so much cleanup time and the meals didnt’ burn around the edges, which is a problem I often face when using the crockpot.
  • Cutting up all of the vegetables the day before MUST be done, it would have been a great time-saver!
  • I will invest in reusable containers so that there is not so much waste, I do love the aluminum pans but if I do this often that would make for a lot of expense and waste, something we’re trying to reduce.
  • WEAR SNEAKERS IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE ON YOUR FEET ALL DAY! My feet are still aching me, I should have know better!
  • Clean as you go, especially the dishes – this is where a dishwasher would be handy too. (*hint hint sweetie)
  • Have a plan for your kids for the day. Claire our 3 year old was set up at the dining table for a while with playdoh, Caleb was able to spend some time with me in the kitchen in his highchair. I took a few breaks just to read a book or play for a few minute. They also enjoyed a good amount of Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, Dora and Thomas. I was really impressed how content they were all day while I worked, but next time I’ll try to arrange a play-date or sitter for the kids so that I can get things done with out distractions.
  • Making your own Granola is EASY and so delicious!
  • Next time I’ll make more breakfast meals. I skipped the pancakes this time but it would have been really nice to have them in the freezer for a quick breakfast.
  • Set up extra tables if you need more counter space.
  • I used our dining room table and set up a “packaging area” where I could package the meals and label them.
  • I put food that needed to be cooled outside on our porch ( It was below freezing on Wednesday). This was actually very helpful!
  • Labeling everything before you freeze it is so important! Many meals look similar when frozen. The labels on Once-a-month Mom’s site are perfect!

I was a bit confused about one thing, I wasn’t sure how to measure out the cooked ground beef for each recipe. I had a similar problem with the onions.I ended up guessing the amounts which worked out this time but I sent Tricia a message asking her if there was a solution to my problem. She replied (isn’t she great!)

“I found somewhere that stated that 1 lb of raw ground beef is equal to about 12 ounces cooked, or 1.5 cups…
For the onions, I had given the amount of each so I was figuring everyone would just create “portions” and guess from there. Either way it is hard. Even for the hamburger it can vary by meat type (fat content). So it is always a little bit of guessing.

Thanks Tricia for responding to my e-mail so quickly! I did a pretty good job guessing the portions and everything turned out well, but now I know this for next time!

Do you have any questions? I’m working on doing a little interview with Tricia because I’m so impressed with her website and so grateful that she takes the time to organize the whole production.

I’d love to know hear from all of you what your questions are about Once-A-Month Cooking.
Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post with all of your questions/comments!

One final thing, I’d like to take a moment to say a special “thank-you” to:

My IPod, you kept me moving!

Rebekah, for letting me borrow her Crockpot!

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners, you made cleanup a breeze!

and finally, Coffee, I couldn't have done this without you!

So if you’re wanting to try Once-A-Month cooking, I say GO FOR IT! Find a friend, set a date and try it out! I am so pleased with the outcome and love being able to just grab a meal from the freezer!

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  • Reply
    February 19, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I am sooo motivated to try this out. I was looking at the recipes and I don’t think my family would like all of them so maybe I’ll try to start off with the one’s they’ll like and go from there. I am loving your blog Donna, thanks for taking the time to do it!!!!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm


      Thanks for your kind words. I really hope you give it a shot. It feels so good to know we have plenty of food in the freezer. Be sure to look back at menu plans from previous months on Once A Month Mom’s website, she has lots of recipes that you can mix and match.

  • Reply
    Martha Michaud
    February 20, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Checking this out! Will you let me know if you liked the crock pot black bean salsa chicken? 🙂 thanks!

    • Reply
      February 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm

      We had the Black Bean Salsa Chicken last night and it was great! Next time I think I will use a medium salsa instead of mild just to add some flavor. I loved it! I’m a big fan of black beans. We ate ours with Tortilla Chips but it would be good over rice also!

  • Reply
    Martha Michaud
    February 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Sounds yummy! I’m going to try that one soon. My chicken is all frozen so I’ll have to make that one fresh and eat it 🙂 I checked out the site and I like the idea, but we eat more american non spicy type food so I thought I’d try to make my own menu and just make 1-2 types of foods on the day I buy the meat when it is on sale. I could never cook that much in one day with the 3 kids 🙂 I bought a giant pork loin from sams club and prepped 4 roasts, and 2 batches of pork chops. I made 4 batches of pot pie filling and 100 mini meatballs so far. I am thinking about going back and getting another package of ground beef and making chili, 1lb bags of cooked meat to add to pasta sauce and cooked seasoned taco meat for tacos. Later in the month when I’m making my baked mac & cheese and stuffed shells I will make a double batch and divide it into 4 pans each. Then I think I’ll be all set.

    I told my friend Tina about this and she suggested having a mops cooking club night at her church and having every one bring a baked good that could be frozen and bring a meal to make together, so everyone would go home with eight meals and some baked goods for the freezer. Sounds fun! We would eat some of the baked goods while we work and have coffee!! Can’t wait for more updates 🙂

    • Reply
      February 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm


      Be sure to check back at Once A Month Mom’s website next month, she is going to have a bunch of links to different once a month cooking plans, there will be some great recipes there I’m sure! I often do what you do, I make 2 batches of lasagna, chicken enchiladas and other casseroles. I also cook up big batches of chicken and beef to have ready in the freezer for crockpot meals. I’ll tell you that it has been such a blessing having these meals in the freezer this weekend because we’ve all been sick and it’s such a relief to know that dinner’s in the freezer! I’ve always wanted to ask our mom’s group leader if we could do a big cooking club event, I might have to try to put something like that together. Any excuse for a girls night makes me happy!

  • Reply
    March 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I am glad you got to do this and am very amazed you did it with your little ones around. I make sure my husband disapears for the day with my son 🙂

  • Reply
    Kathy @ House of Hills
    March 7, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Sounds like you had an AMAZINGLY productive day and with the wee ones about. IMPRESSIVE!!! Isn’t it just so satisfying to have all that done!

  • Leave a Reply

    Hey Donna