When Alicia’s Homemaking asked me to do a cooking day with her where we would cook a month’s worth of food for TWO families of four, I was scared. And I had a lot of questions. And I was scared. Honestly, it took me a long time to wrap my mind around what we were going to be doing. However, Alicia steered me in the direction of Once A Month Mom and I started to do a little bit of reading… and I became less scared and a little bit curious.
First I looked at the menu for the month of February. Next, I looked at the grocery list (it was very long!), and finally I read the instructions for the “Big Day”. OAMM had all these things on google docs, which made it super easy to read and understand.
The menu (which we followed EXACTLY) consisted of three breakfast, four lunch, and eight dinner ideas. Usually, each meal was portioned in two so that we had at least 6 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 16 dinners.
I started planning for our cooking day about two weeks in advance. I met with Alicia at her home and we went over the grocery list and decided who would buy what. I had some of the items already on hand and so did Alicia. We tried to make it as even and fair as possible. For most of the items we just decided to split it 50/50. If our grocery list called for 10 pounds of bananas we each were planning to buy 5. We also looked at the instructions for the day and planned to use four crockpots, many mixing bowls and measuring spoons/cups, among other things. Also, in the instructions we had to chop the vegetables and cook some of the beef and chicken the day/night before.
I started shopping for our cooking day about a week in advance. I went to Southern Savers and tried to find grocery stores that had the items I needed on sale. I probably could have spent less if I started shopping at least 3 weeks ahead of time, but like most things that overwhelm me I take baby steps and try not to get overwhelmed by going too fast. That’s just how I roll. I went to Wal-Mart twice and spent $35.11 and $51.76, Publix twice and spent $6.82 and $13.67, the Dollar Tree and spent $9.68, and Winn-Dixie once and spent $23.70 for a grand total of $140.74 (for 30 meals). Alicia spent $115 (for 30 meals). She’s so awesome!
The night before our “Big Day” I chopped up all the vegetables (cried quite badly while chopping the 80 million cups of onions) and put the crockpots on to cook the beef and chicken overnight. I double and triple checked all my lists to make sure I had everything and packed up the non perishables in laundry baskets to make it easy the next day to transfer to my car.
The day of I loaded my car with tons of stuff (including my 8 month old son and all his supplies) and went over to Alicia’s. I got there at 9 am and didn’t quite get started until 10 am (busy baby wrangling). Alicia and I cooked until 7:30 or so and I was home at 8 something. Alicia has a three month old baby so we took plenty of breaks for feedings, playing, nap time, and diaper changes.
Even though it cost only $140 listen to this – I have tons of leftover ingredients. Here they are – baggies, tuna, cherry filling, raisins, honey, butter, brown sugar, mustard, lentils, olives, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, green onions, sweet onions, garlic, potatoes and the disposable pans I bought from the dollar tree (which were too big to put the actual meals in, but great for holding the frozen meals in the freezer). This is what I used that I already had in my kitchen – black beans, cumin, eggs, beef stock, ranch, foil, cream of chicken (I bet there is more but I can’t remember them). Last night and today for lunch we ate the black bean salsa chicken and it was yummy! The banana pancakes are AWESOME.
All in all, I would totally do it again. In fact, I’m planning on doing March’s menu in April with my friend Stephanie. Can’t wait!
Here are some photos from our day:
The finished product (Alicia's food is in the freezer):