The method I’ve adapted in cooking is also known as once a month cooking but I found this terminology very limiting. I like to think of it as investment cooking instead. When I cook this way I am investing in my health, my time, and my family’s lives. There are three different methods of investment cooking that you can use to provide great meals for your family. Let’s look at each one today.
You can cook a month’s worth of food in one day to stock up your freezer. In reality this takes three days of effort but one day of cooking. The first day you do your planning including what meals you want to prepare, create your shopping list and plan the best order to cook the items. On the second day you would do your grocery shopping. Finally on the third day you cook and assemble your meals. At the end of 6-8 hours you will able to put away 30-60 meals for your family’s consumption depending on your abilities and meal choices.
Another very efficient way of investment cooking is to do a mini-session based on one meat or base. This is a great method to use when chicken (or another staple) goes on sale. You stock up on that ingredient and cook as many meals as you can out of what you got. For example, if you bought chickens on sale you could make roasted chickens (use the cooked meat in other recipes), chicken soup, casseroles using chicken, and freeze chicken with marinade to grill later. You could also do a baking day making muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, etc. to stick in the freezer.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to start incorporating investment cooking into your life is by simply doubling or tripling a recipe as you make it and stick the extras in the freezer. When you are making French toast for breakfast, go ahead and make up a whole loaf of bread’s worth. Flash freeze and you’ll have a yummy breakfast another day that only needs to be warmed up in the toaster or microwave. If you are making spaghetti sauce, double it and freeze the extra for another night. It takes so little extra effort and the returns are tremendous.
I use all three of these methods throughout the year. When I’m making meals that are easy to double I take advantage of it and put some away for another meal. When I get meat on a good sale I will cook up a whole bunch for the freezer. Every so often I plan a cooking day and really fill up my freezer.
Here’s a great recipe I like to make when I get ground beef on sale.
4 pounds lean ground beef — or pork or turkey or a combo
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup onion – diced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 cups tomato sauce
Mix all ingredients very well with your hands in a large bowl.
For Meatballs: Form approx. 180 meatballs (large walnut size). Place meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and no longer pink in the center. Cool. Flash Freeze then bag in freezer bags.
To serve: thaw meatballs and bake at 350 for 10-20 minutes or heat in a sauce. (Spaghetti Sauce, Sweet & Sour, Stroganoff, BBQ, etc . . .)
For Meatloaf: Form into a loaf in a baking dish. Brush with favorite sauce. Bake at 350 for an hour or until no longer pink. Cool and chill. Slice meatloaf if desired.
Or freeze mixture raw, flattened out in a freezer bag, thaw and cook when desired.
To make meatballs of equal size:
1. Lightly pat mixture into a 1 inch thick rectangle (on wax paper).
2. Cut the rectangle into the same number of squares as meatballs in the recipe.
3. Gently roll each square into a ball.
(Be careful not to handle the meat too much.)