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Planning Ahead

Do your New Year's Resolutions include eating healthier and spending less money on food? Are you tired of restaurants, buying expensive frozen dinners or munching on junk food because you're too tired to cook? How would you like to come home at the end of the day and, within minutes, have a delicious, healthy, economical home-cooked meal like Vegetable Lasagna or Mandarin Orange Chicken on the table?

The secret is a cooking technique that involves investing one day in cooking enough meals to last for several days. While you may start out cooking enough on the weekend to feed your family all week, true devotees will stockpile enough food so that they can go months without doing any substantial cooking. Whether you call it "Frozen Assets," "Investment Cooking" or, most commonly, "Once-A-Month-Cooking" (OAMC), it can mean healthier, more economical eating and less time in the kitchen.

These sites will help you get started. OrganizedHome.com's Guide to Freezer Cooking has some great hints for beginners, a description of an OAMC cooking session and a FAQs page. OAMC 101 also has a sample OAMC session and includes suggestions for what kitchen supplies you'll need, as well as lots of recipes. Real Food for Real People's Once a Month Cooking has freezing hints, starter recipes and links to helpful websites.




There are a few helpful cookbooks that have been published on the topic. Frozen Assets Link Page highlights a cookbook entitled "Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month." You can order the book, or check out the links to articles that include recipes and OAMC hints. If you order the 30 Day Gourmet's Online Freezer Cooking Manual, you'll be given access to their entire website, but the free recipes are available to anyone. Most recipes have been doubled, tripled and quadrupled for up to 72 servings and include helpful hints.

One way that OAMCers save money is by watching out for sales and buying bulk quantities of popular ingredients. Then, they follow a "Plan" for that particular item, to make the best use of it. Frugalmoms includes plans for bulk preparation of a variety of foods. Also check out the "Plans and Recipes" section at Once A Month Cooking for what to do when you find a great sale on ground beef or find yourself staring at several pounds of leftover turkey.

As you get more comfortable with the techniques behind OAMC, you'll want to start adapting your own recipes. You'll find information on freezing, thawing and defrosting techniques at Quality for Keeps, Freezing Food and Home Freezing of Cooked and Prepared Foods. The Mining Company's Food Freezing Resources includes recipes, as well as safety information.

Speaking of recipes, visit OrganizedHome.com's Recipes for Once A Month Cooking, Kate's (Vegan) Cookery Site, Once a Month Cooking/Freezer Meals, Cooking for the Freezer: Poultry and Dinner's in the Freezer.




   --- J. Walker

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