Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Food Experiment Follow Up

The month is over and I thought I'd report how my 'Once a Month' cooking experiment went.  I've done freezer meals for years, but normally only 1 or 2 meals a week.  I've never planned breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with about 80% of the food prepared ahead of time.  As a side note, our microwave broke the day we began this so we were microwaveless for 3 weeks.  It was tough...

Egg McMuffins: F - epic fail! though we had to reheat in the oven from frozen and it took too long and over cooked everything.  I'm willing to try again with  microwave reheating.
I also never got around to pre-making pancakes but we did do muffins and they worked
Other breakfasts: Smoothies, cereal, pancakes

Mummy Dogs: A+ .  They actually are so much better when you bake them from frozen. 
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: B .   Good, but took longer to reheat then it would to grill fresh, so no point in making ahead.
Pizza Cups: A...Definitely a keeper!
Chicken Nuggets: A.  They take time to make but SOOOOO worth it!
French Bread Pizza: A+.  Best discovery of this month.  So convenient, yum, cheap and kids loved them!
Bean&Cheese Burritos: I didn't try-my bad...but they seem awesome and convenient
Chicken Salad:  A.  Everyone loves
Other lunches: ham sandwiches, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

Cheese and Crackers: A+
Fruit Smoothie: A+
Granola Bars: C : too much honey in them.  I need to find a better recipe
Yogurt Parfaits: A+.  The kids favorite snack.  Clear cups, frozen fruit, greek yogurt and granola.  They ate these alot.
Chocolate Pudding: A.  It doesn't get easier than this
Soft Pretzels: A when fresh.  B when frozen and reheated. 

Cranberry Chicken: B.  I really enjoyed this.  The kids not as much.  They kept expecting it to taste like BBQ chicken because of the look but it didn't
Teriyaki Honey Chicken: A.  Everyone loved this
Twice Baked Potatoes: A.  Yummy,
Ranch Chicken Parmesan: A+.  Sooooo good. Everyone loved
Greek Chicken: B.  I overcooked it so we'll try again. 
Other dinners: Spaghetti, Taco Salad, Burrito Bar, Soup

I had vegetables cut up in the fridge daily for consumption.  I had a basket of fruit available every day for them as well. 
The other

So...did it work?  Yes!  We only did take out 1 time for the entire month. 
Cost effectiveness?  Saved $400 on our food budget-which is HUGE.
Quality of food?  We ate soo well.  Excellent vegetables, fruits, meats, breads, cheeses etc.  Our meals were well balanced.  The snacks were nutritious
Convenience:  A!  Kids were able to handle all of the meals if needed
Time?  We did the cooking over the course of 3 days.  One really long night and two shorter stints over 2 days.
It took me much longer to plan the food menu, recipes, ingredients and shopping list.   
Was the time worth it?  Yes! Because when it came to daily schedules, we had great food available.
Will I do it again?  Yes! Yes! Yes!  I'm working on this months menu right now
Do I recommend this type of cooking? Yes!

Do I have a file with all of the recipes, shopping lists and menu? Yes thanks to Kristin!  Love you woman!
The end!!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


My days are busy! and I mean busy! I have five kids I'm homeschooling. Two in High School, one in middle school and two in Elementary. I go from child to child to child teaching, mentoring, helping, playing, re-teaching etc...all day every day. I also have kids in lessons, clubs and actually do have some interests of my own. This is my choice and I love it! But...I've come to realize a few things about the all important subject of Food. My children need to eat. You would think that would be a given, but on busy days I often forget about food because I don't have time. They don't forget though. Also, when my kids don't eat they get grumpy, tired, and lose the ability and desire to work/think. If I stop what I'm doing, which always has something to do with the kids, to go make food, then the kids stop what they are doing. And then they have to stop what they are doing to actually eat. It's not a win-win situation for our days. But my kids still need to eat. I haven't been organized enough to tell an older child to 'go make lunch.' They always get frustrated at that if they want to make something more than peanut butter sandwiches. I realized I needed to make a PLAN.
I follow a blog 'Once a Month Mom.' The premise is that you make a plan for the month: breakfasts, lunches and dinners and complete all of the cooking over one or two days at the beginning of the month. Then, when you are hungry there is a plan and food already prepared. Just re-heat. OaMM provides 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 15 dinners. I decided I needed to do this but on a bigger scale. So, this past week I've taken the time to make our own menu utilizing food that I know my kids love. I've planned breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner for every day but Saturday. It's been quite the job. My kids have been intrigued and even excited about this. I shopped all morning and afternoon for a months supply of grocery items-(I even made a grocery list of exact amounts so I wouldn't waste budget)
On a budget note: I realized after completing shopping that this plan will potentially save us over $400 a month on groceries. I should only need to shop for milk and fresh vegies and fruit every week.
Tonight, we began assembling meals-enough for 8 people. Thanks hubby for helping. We made 12 Egg McMuffins, 32 Mummy Dogs, 16 Broccoli/Ham Twice Baked Potatoes, 2 meals of Cranberry Chicken, 2 meals Greek Inspired Chicken, 4 meals Honey Teriyaki Chicken, 1 meal Ham Fried Rice, 2 meals Ranch Parmesan Chicken. We also cooked up enough chicken for chicken salad, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chicken Crescent Rolls. Now all of the dishes are NOT chicken based but I had purchased a 40 lb box of chicken breast and had to take care of it right away so I didnt' need to figure out a way to store it. Tomorrow, pancakes, muffins, fruit smoothies, mac and cheese, pizzas, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, breakfast cookies, granola bars and yogurt parfaits will all be made. The kids are helping a ton. Lilly is helping with breakfasts, Kylie with Lunches and Paige with dinners. Steve has been washing dishes like crazy to keep me stocked with pans, knives, measuring cups and spoons and clean cutting boards.
I'm really curious about this experiment. I believe it's going to be extremely beneficial. Something else I know about myself. I love to cook...but only on about 6 days of the month. I'm just to busy, tired or distracted to stop what I'm doing to cook every day. This plan should solve that.

If you'd like my plans, menus or budget, let me know. I'm happy to share.