I also downloaded the e-cookbook she recommends from Mama and Baby Love. There are a lot of good recipes in here and we have tried almost all of them in our first month of once-a-month dinners. We've liked most of them so far and I think it was worth buying just to get some ideas.
To get started, I first brainstormed recipes. Using the e-cookbook was a good starting point, then we just added in things that were already favorites with us. I used this menu to make a shopping list, going through each recipe and writing down every ingredient we'd need. In the recipes from the website mentioned above, each recipe is set up to make two full meals, so you can eat one and bank the other for a supper down the road. I don't think I've ever bought so much meat at one time in my life! But, knowing it was a full month's worth of meals plus some, I went ahead. I was surprised then, when I only spent $267, and that included a lot of spices and things that I won't need to buy again for a long time (such as coriander, cumin, and curry) that I didn't already have on hand, plus breakfast, snack, and lunch things for us. Those can add up really fast! And that's still a lot less than the $700 or so that the average American family of four spends on groceries a month. For the rest of the month, I only anticipate buying milk and fresh fruit and veggies for snacks.
We brought home all our ingredients, along with the recipes, and started the assembly line! It was actually fun. We did it after the girls were in bed so we didn't have any little "helpers" to deal with, and we enjoy just hanging out together anyway, so it was nice to keep our hands busy and talk. We assembled each recipe, split the ingredients between two gallon ziplock bags, and added the meat last. In some recipes, I substituted cuts of meat that were less expensive or that I already had on hand.
|It was not an orderly assembly.|
As we got each bag finished, we made a label with the ingredients, the assembly date, and the cooking instructions, such as adding a cup of water to the slow cooker and cooking four hours on high. Each bag was then smashed flat with all the air removed for storage.
The bags were stacked in the freezer, and my menu put on the front of the fridge for easy reference. Each day, I simply take the bag I want out of the freezer (hopefully without an avalanche...there's a lot of meals in there!), and stick it in my Crock Pot. So far, it's been smashing success. It is super nice to not have to think about what we're having for dinner. It's even nicer to empty a bag into the slow cooker at eight in the morning and not think about supper for the rest of the day. All told, it took about four hours to assemble the meals, and I could not be happier. I will definitely be doing this again.