Thursday, October 16, 2008

Once a Month Cooking, Home Remodeling, and Transfer Meds

Does anyone do Once a Month (or once a week) cooking? Not the kind of once a month cooking where you eat takeout the other 29 days ;) ....the kind where you cook an entire month's worth of food in one or two sessions and then freeze it?

Because I knew THIS was coming...

I spent the day cooking a bunch of meals for us so that I wouldn't have to try to cook in this mess and so we wouldn't have to resort to takeout.

The days' results?
•2 Meals of Baked Spaghetti
•3 Meals of Chicken Enchilada Casserole
•2 Meals of a Dish my family has always called Chinese Casserole, though there's nothing Chinese about it
•2 Meals of Chicken and Stuffing Bake
•3 Meals of Ham-Tot Casserole
•2 Meals of Chili
•2 Meals of Chicken and Rice

I also have two meat loaves that I made the other day. Tomorrow I'm making a lasagna (enough for 3 meals), a double batch of beef stew, cornbread for the chili, and maybe a chicken broccoli bake. (Fortunately I bought most of the ingredients for these things today so I know where they are!) Theoretically, after these things are done, I shouldn't have to cook until after my kitchen is put back together.

Today's cooking took me about 4 hours, plus an hour of shopping and an hour to package and label everything and organize the freezer. The cleanup took some time but even it wasn't too bad.

I thought about it and I was so pleased with how little time it took compared to how many meals it produced. I typically spend an hour to an hour and a half on making dinner each night! I'm thinking I may endeavor upon this again!

My one complaint was that a lot of the recipes from my book that are freezer-friendly are casseroles--heavy on the cream soup and/or cheese. Great tasting, bad for the diet. It's hard to reheat lighter fare things like grilled chicken. I did find some recipes tonight that are basically frozen marinades and you still cook the night of--I may try those when I have meat that's not already frozen. It'd still be easy to pull a bag out of the freezer, toss it in a dish and put it in the oven. That would allow for some lighter recipes.

Does anyone else do this? Have you found it to be helpful overall? Do you have any recipes or words of wisdom to share?

In other news, my home is a total disaster. So much for all that nesting! We decided to go ahead and replace the kitchen cabinets. We also found some vanities for the bathrooms on clearance. So every free inch of space has some kind of cabinet on it, be it an old one or a new one! The kitchen cabinet contents are in boxes on every table we have and I generally feel like the house looks like a tornado went through it! I'll be glad when this is done because the disorder is stressful!

But the great news is that God was very generous to us in purchasing our home improvements. Through various coupons, sales, clearances and negotiations, we've ended up with 20% to 60% off everything that we've bought, saving thousands of dollars off of what the project easily could have cost and what we were expecting to pay. And my brother is an absolute wizard when it comes to all things handy (I decided he should open a business called "Rent a Jeff") and he has graciously given us his time and talents to spearhead the work! (We help, but we're Tim and Timmitha Taylor when it comes to handyman things!) We're just overwhelmed with God's provision and generosity!

Hopefully this project will be done soon!

One minor prayer request: I'm on my next med for the transfer. It's very unpredictable. At times I'm 100% fully functional, and at other times, it totally wipes me out with a severe migraine and/or total exhaustion. The inconsistency is almost as frustrating as the side effects themselves because I can't get in to any kind of routine! I'd appreciate your prayers for relief from the side effects. There's also another kink in my body's cooperation with timing--we'd love your prayers that that gets straightened out, too. But speaking of side effects, I'm a little dizzy at the moment, so I'm going to sign off!

One last thing before I do, though. Please keep Sara and baby Brynn in your prayers. Sara has a number of complications that are making little Brynn try to come early. She's 32 weeks now so well out of danger she could have been even just days ago, but still much earlier than is best. We're not sure if she's in labor or not--the last update on the blog seemed to imply "maybe." Please keep them in your prayers and pray that Baby Brynn will hang tight a few more weeks.

Night, all! Love and hugs to everyone.


  1. I actually regularly go to Let's Dish ( and do this same thing. It ends up being cheaper than if I do it myself and buy all the ingredients. And it's nice to always have a meal in the freezer.

  2. Wow... it sounds like you've got a lot more than just a month's worth of food there! :) Great job!

    I do have a question... we will be starting our home study process soon for fostering & I guess I feel like we can't change a thing once our house has been approved. Remember, we haven't done much of anything for this, but are you planning to have the social worker come back & approve the renovations? I guess I'm just wondering how much we can change the house after we've been approved... are they really particular about that sort of thing?

    And that idea from Mrs. Shoes sounds great! I'm gonna check out that website now! :)

  3. Thanks for the response! To me, that makes perfect sense! I guess it's just been intimidating learning all the stuff you need to do with the house prep. Like for fostering &/or adopting... the locked cleaning supplies & such. Things that we'd never think about & probably wouldn't ever consider locking them up... yeah, putting them high & out of reach, but just overwhelming.

    One positive thing is that we are working with a Christian agency & the workers teaching the fostering class are very responsive & helpful. I think we'd feel much more comfortable having them come into our house & help us make it how they want it! :)

    PS- I am not sure if I've ever commented before or not, but I check your blog very regularly! I really enjoying reading your updates & learning about EA.


  4. Wow, your undertakings amaze me! While our kitchen cabinets are in decent shape, we too have plans to redo the bathrooms. My husband would love if I learned to cook (and shop for savings) like you seem to do!

    Regarding EA, we just finished our home study and are hoping to send off our application packet to Nightlight by the beginning of November. I've been curious about the transfer side of things, especially since your post about negotiating the contract with the fertility clinic.

    I'd love to pick your brain a little bit. You are a wealth of knowledge since you're approximately six months ahead of us on the path to parenthood via EA. Would you be comfortable emailing me sometime?


  5. Andrea-I'll try to email you tonight. If you don't hear from me, drop me a line at jenblogsif[at]gmail[dot]com. I'd love to talk to you!


    Taste of Home has a mini book out right now that has a bunch of really good recipes. There weren't all that many casserole recipes and it was about $4. I bought mine at Lowe's, but I have seen them every where that has magazines.


  7. I don't do once a month cooking, but once a week I double one of our meals and stick half in the freezer. I use one of those frozen meals every week or every other week, so I always have a comfortable week or two of meals in the freezer, in case things get crazy.

    And before the twins' birth, I bumped that up to a month's supply.

    I find the regular doubling much more manageable than a whole month's endeavor, and the result is similar. Many, many things freeze well besides casseroles. Lots of times I freeze something without the starch - like terriyaki chicken, or a meat and veggie curry - and then I just make rice or noodles the night of, to go with. Less room in the freezer that way.

  8. Hi, Jen!

    So when's dinner????

    I did cooking-for-a-month twice when we were first married and I was busy with culinary school. I stopped doing it because (1) I found it rather exhausting, (2) our tiny apartment freezer couldn't handle the volume, (3) I made some things that were less-than-popular and the multiples got thrown out, (4) Joe got sick of eating the same thing all the time, (5) freezer burn. Also, you are quite right - it is the high-fat, high-starch items that freeze best - lighter items don't work too well. Right now I focus on freezing homemade ingredients, such as chopped rhubarb, cooked beans (cheaper and no salt), etc. And with an apartment freezer, we don't have room for more than that plus our frozen meat and fruit/vegetables! What I tend to do is just double a recipe occasionally and freeze the duplicate. When I have a bigger freezer I plan to do that more often so that I can have spare meals without the extra work. You're right - mass cooking does save a lot of time, as does meal-doubling. Good for you for all your experimenting! We'll be over at 5p for dinner!!!


  9. Elena and I tried the OAMC when our 3 were infants and it was a little crazy. I like the idea though. I did do what Jess did before Vannah was born and it was very helpful. With people bringing meals and freezer meals I didn't have to cook for a month.