Saturday, January 13, 2007

OAMC (Once A Month Cooking) How I got started.

My dad hates leftovers. When Danny was finishing his bachelor’s degree, and we were living with my parents, we all took turns cooking. Danny and I had two days a week. During that time, it was just us, no kids, my parents, and my younger sister. My dad, I soon found out, hates leftovers (except roast beef or spaghetti). He would eat it the first time, but if it was produced from the fridge for an encore performance, he would snub it. Valentine’s Day 2002, while still living with my parents, Danny and I were particularly poor. Our $300 monthly income from ROTC went to my parents for rent/groceries. The student loans we were living off of went for diapers for our brand-new baby and gas for the car. Valentine’s Day was my turn to cook, Danny would be late with classes, and I was recovering from gall-bladder surgery just three days before. I really wanted to do something special. I searched online researching frugal ideas when I came across Once a Month Cooking. One of the sites that piqued my interest called it “Freezer Cooking”. So I decided to experiment with Danny’s favorite meal: lasagna. Now, if we had been living on our own, I wouldn’t have experimented with such an expensive dinner. But my parents were paying for the food and had most of the ingredients already. I prepared two pans in the same amount of time it would’ve taken one. Dad was none the wiser when we had lasagna again the next month. It was new, not leftover.

If a 9x13 pan leaves your family with leftovers, do what we now do. I prepare four 8X8 pans of lasagna instead of two 9x13 pans on cooking day. When it’s time for lasagna, I serve it up with plenty of vegetables or salad, and homemade soft Italian breadsticks on the side.

My mom took a recipe for a 9x13 chicken tortilla casserole and split it into 4 meals for my dad and her.

Do you have a slow week? Plan on cooking triple meals on two of the nights this week.

Your OAMC challenge this week is to do one of the following:

1. Double or triple one freezer-worthy dinner within the next week.
2. Take a favorite family recipe and freeze a single portion to see if it freezes and reheats well.
3. Make a list for yourself with the pros and cons of OAMC.

My OAMC goal January 2007: stock new freezer with 6 weeks of dinners. If accomplished by month’s end, make a full batch of brownie bites (to be frozen of course).


bekibug5 said...

Nikki, you write such useful information that you really should consider publishing some of them for pay with online sites like Associated wouldn't have to change anything you do, just get paid for it!

Susan said...

That's an incredible goal, good luck! How long do you leave things in the freezer? Does it very from food to food? Do you change recipes when you freeze them, or just throw them in? You got a new freezer! That is so awesome! I would love updates. You're such an inspiration to me!

piglet26 said...

what in the world does OMAc mean? I feel so lost and confused.

DakRat said...

OMAC was the leader of the notorious barbarian horde, the Visigoths, which along with other Germanic tribes, overran the Western Roman Empire around 401; ultimately proving its demise. This in turn led in the 5th-c to the formation of Roman-barbarian kingdoms, such as the Goths in Italy and the Franks in NC Gaul, based on Roman structures.

How does this relate to food, you ask? Omac and his tribesmen battled climate and disease as often as human adversaries. Hailing from an area of sparse natural food resources and harsh and unforgiving winters, at times the weather was so severe that the Visigoths were only able to leave the embrace of their shelters once a month to hunt. Fortunately, they were skilled hunters and often amassed a large amount of game during these brief episodes. To avoid starvation until they could again venture out, they developed a system in which all able-bodied men, women and children devoted all their efforts in that one day to gather the maximum amount of food possible.

The following day, when they were once again forced to remain inside because of a renewal in the ferocity of the raging storms outside, all hands would turn to preparing the food for storage to be eaten throughout the month. Because of the freezing temperatures, the most common method was to divide meat and other foodstuffs into meal-size portions and wrap them tightly in oiled cloth. These packages were then placed in a small room attached to the main enclosure, but not insulated from the cold. In this manner, the food would not become buried in the drifting snow, but would very quickly freeze (sometimes called flash freezing). This preserved the food and made it accessible for families, allowing them just enough nourishment until the weather broke again.

While no longer required for mere survival, some people today continue this nomadic tradition in an effort to save money and energy. These modern day food storage enthusiasts refer to the Visigoth practice as once a month cooking or OAMC.

Nikki said...

I try to rotate entrees/dinners from about 1-3 months. It depends on what it is. Some things freeze longer than 3 months. Soups seem to last a good long time.
Danny bought me a 14.9 cubic ft. chest freezer for Christmas. It is a beautiful sight compared to our old 5.0 cubic ft. one.
All soup/chili/chowder recipes I've done so far I haven't had to alter. Recipes that have rice in them, I either leave the rice out to add later, or add it in uncooked. If there's a lot of liquid in the dish it makes the rice get softer and softer even in the freezer. Recipes with pasta I cook about half the recommended time-- except lasagna. I use a recipe that calls for uncooked lasagna noodles. More to come in OAMC updates!

gurrbonzo said...

AMAZING. nikki for president! i will take your challenge...though i am a little overwhelmed by the size of your freezer. WOW.

Liza's Eyeview said...

hmmmm... I need to do this. being a working mom, I'm always on a panic mode at dinner time....

Kitschy-Koo said...

I love big batch cooking! I save so much time and money. Thanks for posting your ideas!

Kimm said...

How in the world do you find 8-9 hours in one day to cook? Do you do this while trying to take care of your littles or do you have a babysitter arranged? I'd love to try OAMC but the big chunk of time is my stumbling block.

By the way, I can't wait to try your cake box cookies.


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