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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guest Post: Once a Month Cooking

I have been reading about these amazing women who cook for the whole month on one day, then only have to warm up dinner every day. My friend Dani, at The Future Reynolds successfully achieves this goal, and I asked her to share her secrets on how she does this every month. Not to mention, if I could grocery shop for the two of us on $200 per month, I would be ecstatic!
Hello!  I'm Dani from The Future Reynolds and I am so thrilled to share how we cook once a month on a relatively low food budget.  I started this process in March and haven't hit our $200/month budget yet.  My husband and I make a quick list of what sounds good for the month and always add in at least one new meal and take one out so we don't get bored.  My husband works on Saturday so I usually have the house to myself, a glass of wine, and 3-4 hours to knock everything out. 

When we go shopping, we usually go to Aldi for the staples, a local Meat N More outlet for meat and eggs, and Harps for produce and things that my husband is a brand snob choosy about.  It takes a little bit longer to get everything but it's worth it.  Milk alone is over a dollar cheaper from Aldi than any of our local grocery stores or Walmart.  Our final count out of the photo below is 48 dinners for $162.  We really only have to go back out for milk and bread about halfway through the month.

It's really not that complicated to do this, I promise.  To keep it simple, just start out by doubling the ingredients on each meal to have it twice throughout the month.  Separate your portions into gallon sized zip-lock bags.  It's a good idea to label them especially if someone else is going to be pulling them out of the freezer later so you don't have surprise meals that they are not sure how to warm up.  It doesn't take up a lot of space in the freezer to do this either.  We have the "cute" sized refrigerator and everything fits without a problem.
Most of our meals can be warmed up in the crock pot, grill, or on the stove and they taste great.  We were worried everything would taste a month old when we first started doing this and it's really not the case at all.  Most of what we cook only has about a 10 minute prep time to add a side of vegetables, noodles or tortillas and it's done.  Completely.  Imagine all of the things you could do with the time that you're not spending cooking dinner from scratch every night.  Awesome, right?

Okay, that doesn't seem too hard. My biggest problem now, will be what to cook? Do you have a great recipe that would work for once a month cooking? 
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