There are so many options when it comes to making a meal plan. One that I have found interesting is Once A Month Cooking. (OAMC) Some websites refer to it as Frozen Assets, which I found very amusing.
The idea is that you take one Saturday a month and cook all your meals you need for that month. So, let's suppose you'll be eating chili, spaghetti, shepherd's pie, meatloaf, and hamburgers in a given month. When you have your cooking day, you cook all the meat, onion, peppers etc in one skillet, then portion it out to each of the dishes you need. You can do the same with ham or chicken.
Of course, this requires a lot of prior preparation. You need to go through all the meals you want to cook and find out how much of each ingredient you need, then buy it all at once. You can follow the sales in your local paper to make sure you get the best deals possible.
This is attractive to me for three reasons:
1. All my cooking for the month is done in one (very long, very exhausting) day. But we eat out the night of the cooking session.
2. I save money because I buy all my meat for the month when the price is the lowest, and because I have meals prepared, we eat out only the night I marathon cook.
3. Days when we're out doing ministry things all day long, I just pop a meal out of the freezer in the morning and it's ready to bake when I get home. Toss together a salad and we're done!
There are some negatives to this method. What if I don't have the money to buy all that meat for the month? What if my freezer is the size of a postcard? Well, cut it back to a two-week, or one-week plan. Cook all your meals for a given week on the Saturday prior, and pop them out of the freezer when needed.
There are several ways to go about the cooking and storing. I have found a wealth of information here. I haven't decided this is the way to go for us, but it's a thought I'm considering. Who knew meal planning could take so long to figure out?!?
On a side note:
A little tip I recently read at Living On A Dime says that dirty dishes cause debt. If you have ever left your dishes overnight, had an emergency strike and not been able to wash them the next day, you know you've taken your family out to eat as the only other option.
A good rule of thumb is to wash as you cook, then finish the dishes when dinner is done. This way you keep a clean, organized kitchen, and don't fall into the trap of going out to eat because there are too many dishes in the sink to cook.
Did you know going out to eat is one of the top five reasons for debt??? We, as the makers of our homes, need to be prepared and organized to avoid this financial (and health) pitfall. We must keep our kitchens clean, stocked with sale items, and have healthy meals planned and ready for our families.
Isn't it the least we can do? What are your thoughts?